NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement on Thursday saying the league disagrees with recent comments made by NBA players union executive director Michele Roberts to ESPN The Magazine.
Roberts expressed disapproval of max contracts, the rookie wage scale and the salary cap, which she described as "incredibly un-American." She also indicated that she will strive to earn a higher percentage of basketball-related income for the league's players.
In the statement, Silver says the salary cap has helped the league grow and helped players earn more money. The commissioner also rejected the idea that there's anything "un-American" about how the league pays its players.
“We couldn't disagree more with these statements. The NBA's success is based on the collective efforts and investments of all of the team owners, the thousands of employees at our teams and arenas, and our extraordinarily talented players. No single group could accomplish this on its own. Nor is there anything unusual or "un-American" in a unionized industry to have a collective system for paying employees – in fact, that's the norm.
“The Salary Cap system, which splits revenues between team owners and players and has been agreed upon by the NBA and the Players Association since 1982, has served as a foundation for the growth of the league and has enabled NBA players to become the highest paid professional athletes in the world. We will address all of these topics and others with the Players Association at the appropriate time.”
In July, Roberts, a renowned trial lawyer, became the first woman to be elected union chief of one of the major North American sports. Adam Silver replaced David Stern as commissioner in February.
The league's owners and players can opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement to initiate a lockout following the 2016-17 season. Last month, Silver said it was "premature" for him to be concerned about the possibility of a work stoppage.