NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Discusses His Call With President Trump

Melissa Rohlin

President Donald Trump held a conference call on Saturday with many of the major sports league commissioners. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver discussed what happened during that call during a live-streamed interview on the NBA's Twitter page Monday. 

Silver said the NBA and other sports leagues were leaders in shutting everything down to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. And they'd love to be the ones to jumpstart the economy, provided that it can be done safely.

"Beyond virtue of crowning a champion, what will the symbolism be of major league sports starting back up in this country?" Silver said in an interview with Turner Sports' Ernie Johnson. "I think that's what President Trump wanted to talk to us all about on that call on Saturday. I mean, it wasn't just a pep talk, but I think it was a reminder of what the meaning is of sports to Americans, to our culture in particular."

Silver said all of the leagues are anxious to return as soon they get the go-ahead. 

"In essence, what came back from all of the leagues collectively, was once we get the all clear, however that's determined, of course, with public health officials, by our government, federal and state, and it may vary from location to location, we're going to be ready to go," Silver said. "But as you said, first and foremost is the health and safety of everyone involved."

Silver said Trump held "an old school conference call" without video. All of the leagues were notified last week that Trump wanted to have this meeting and the time of the call was determined Friday. 

The call lasted about 45 minutes. 

"He made some introductory remarks," Silver said. "The fact that he is a passionate sports fan and the fact that he missed seeing live sports on television. He mentioned that he's been watching some classic telecast games in all sports. He went on to say, you know what, I'd love to hear from all of you. I think we all just took turns."

Silver said the NBA has tried to use its influence and power to disseminate information about the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed 12,064 people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Warriors' superstar Stephen Curry recently interviewed Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, over Instagram Live, a social media platform on which he has 30 million followers. 

"Early on, I think there was particular concern from the government that young people, in particular, who are known to feel a little invulnerable in life, and the extent that we and our players could get those messages out, that would be very helpful," Silver said. "I think at this point, we've had roughly 30 public service announcements, including from players like Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, who were some of the initial well-known people to test positive in this country.

"It gave them a chance also to remind young people, in particular, even to the extent the data is showing that young people, while at risk, are not as at risk as older people or people with preexisting conditions, that they owed it to their fellow citizens to sacrifice and to stay at home and observe those protocols."

In terms of if or when the NBA will resume, Silver said there's no timeline. He said the league won't be making any decisions in April, as everyone waits and sees how the COVID-19 pandemic progresses. 

He added that he's kept up at night by the fact that 55,000 jobs are impacted by the league's suspension.

Silver said Saturday's call gave the major sports leagues commissioners an opportunity to voice their thoughts. 

"It was more just a chance for us to say that we stand behind the country," Silver said. "We want to be helpful."

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