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Adam Silver: NBA Social Justice Messaging Will Be Largely Left Off the Court Next Season

Adam Silver sat down for an interview with Rachel Nichols on NBA Countdown earlier this week and indicated that the social justice messaging that currently displayed on the courts and the backs of players’ jerseys will be “largely left off the floor” next season:

Here is the relevant question and answer:

Rachel Nichols: The NBA has certainly been the most visible billion-dollar organization championing social justice and civil rights. As you noted in your press conference the other day, though, that has not been universally popular. How committed are you to being that going forward?

Adam Silver: We’re completely committed to standing for social justice and racial equality and that’s been the case going back decades. It’s part of the DNA of this league. How it gets manifested is something we’re gonna have to sit down with the players and discuss for next season. I would say, in terms of the messages you see on the court and our jerseys, this was an extraordinary moment in time when we began these discussions with the players and what we all lived through this summer. My sense is there’ll be somewhat a return to normalcy, that those messages will largely be left to be delivered off the floor.

And I understand those people who are saying ‘I’m on your side, but I want to watch a basketball game.’

The ratings have fallen precipitously throughout the playoffs and especially during the NBA Finals. It’s true that the NBA is out of season, other out-of-season sports like hockey and horse racing are down a lot too, and it’s weird with no fans in the stands.  The NBA is competing against football games and MLB playoffs when it normally has national sports fans’ attention mostly to themselves, and it’s a miracle how seamlessly they pulled off the bubble for their fans and TV partners.

On the other hand, the league’s biggest star, LeBron James, and sexiest franchise, the Los Angeles Lakers, are setting one all-time low after another after another for NBA Finals viewership.

Consequently, this is as close to a direct acknowledgement from the NBA Commissioner as you’ll ever see that embedding the social justice advocacy directly into the on-court product hurt the viewership. What proportion you want to assign to that phenomenon can be a matter of opinion and conjecture. You can’t deny, after watching that interview, that Silver believes it has contributed to the decline.

Written by Ryan Glasspiegel

Ryan Glasspiegel grew up in Connecticut, graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and lives in Chicago. Before OutKick, he wrote for Sports Illustrated and The Big Lead. He enjoys expensive bourbon and cheap beer.

43 Comments

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  1. They should just be transparent and put the real message on the court:

    #WeLuvDaYen

    Now everyone knows where you stand, the same dozens can keep watching, and you can begin transitioning facilities and teams to China. Why delay the inevitable?

  2. Commish Nosferatu: “My sense is there’ll be somewhat a return to normalcy, that those messages will largely be left to be delivered off the floor.” [Of course, I’ll still have to be invited into the players home…but as long as there are no mirrors around I should be fine.]

    Pretty sure OUR sense, Commish, is that the NBA is not coming back to life any time soon.
    Could be years. Sponsors…TV advertising…arena advertising…shit you never worried about before will all now be in play vis-a-vis “negotiations”.

  3. NBA took this stuff way too far. The owners and commissioner are letting the players bury themselves into this HUGE hole. And if Biden wins, much of that 70% absolutely won’t forgive the league for a long time. The irony is that LeBron doesn’t care since he has already made his fortune and is near retirement.

  4. Is the “selling our country out to CHINA” gonna be largely left off the NBA’s agenda too? Is the stirring of race wars gonna be largely left out? Is the promotion of resisting arrest gonna be largely left out? The NBA is completely out of control and they think they can make everything right by stitching MLK into jerseys.Give me a break. The NBA is a complete joke. After all they have done, after all their promotion of the violent and marxist BLM movement, it is such a disgrace that they would dishonor the memory of MLK by stitching his name into jerseys. I will NEVER watch them again.

  5. I had planned on dumping cable & getting YouTubeTV. Now I’ll have to explore other options considering YTTV is sponsoring this shit show. The NBA isn’t recovering from this as long as LeJoke is in the league, and likely far beyond that. The NBA isn’t the NFL.

    • Although I am not an NBA fan, I am a huge NFL fan. There isn’t much talk about NFL players making social gestures anymore. I think the NBA absolutely took it to far with letting LeBron be the voice of the league. Now that the ratings are showing negative results, the commissioner had to say something. Remember that LeBron said he doesn’t care if you don’t watch? I’m paraphrasing, but you all know what I’m talking about. Fark China!

  6. Soooo..Black lives only mattered this season? Systemic racism and KKK cops only matter this season? Hmmm..I truly believe these leagues run by white commissioners did this woke social justice stuff to shut the black players up, knowing they didnt have to worry about half empty stadiums and arenas this year because of pissed off fans. I don’t think they would have taken the risks. Too embarrassing. And the shark tank dick head should turn his team over to a black person to run the team. He’s such a social justice warrior after all.

    • To Brock’s excellent point he uses the phrase “return to normalcy”. If he honestly believed this really mattered then it should become the new normal should it not? Why would he want to go back to the way things were before. I thought the message was that was bad.

  7. LOL. Why they want to get rid of it?? They should push it more. Paint it bigly in letters across the whole court. Paint China’s flash on there too.

    NOBODY CARES ABOUT THE NBA ANYMORE.

    They need to complete the flush.

    #CompleteTheFlush

  8. To quote some of my woke brethren – you’re not listening. You blew it Klink. Anyone with a functioning head and who is grownup does not want to be lectured too. Guess who else doesn’t want to be lectured to – the NBA players. Tell us how rotten we are (for most part we’re actually decent people) while you mine billions from China. China, you know the country and leadership that is actually what you say we are. I don’t root for failure or destruction but if your product fades away I won’t feel bad and I’m pretty certain I’m a good person.

  9. Also said it in his Finals press conference before Game 1: “There are a lot of fans who look to sports as a respite. I’m listening.” So that’s twice in a week he showed he might finally get it, that insulting customers is not a winning business strategy. With all the other challenges faced by the NBA this season — gone from their home markets, no fans in seats, crowding into a different time of year, people out of the habit of watching — the last thing the league should have done was offend a big segment of its audience by letting angry, uninformed players attack law enforcement, the legal system and white people. Where was all this virtue when they were cashing checks in 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 and so on?

  10. Some will go back. I won’t. Just don’t care anymore. The less I know about the NBA, the better. The bummer is, I have some cool Clippers swag. Maybe I should mail it to Balmer with a love note telling him what to do with the stuff?

  11. Sorry Silver, too little too late… the nba is damaged goods and your “king” Lebron is largely responsible. Life long Lakers fan and I have zero interest in watching them. I won’t support a league who enables cop haters and props up career criminals.

  12. How long before ESPN figures it out YET AGAIN. The amazing thing about ESPN, Disney, Nike etc. is how the principles that are shoved down our throats are so quickly abandoned once the money starts drying up. So unbelievably transparent. Oh well LeBron, there’s always China.

  13. from the time Kobe was 18 through his championship years with both Shaq and Gasol- i didn’t miss a game……..

    since the BLM nonsense i have no watched a single min of Basketball – and the lakers are my most favored franchise……. the collective tone deafness and lack of awareness is truly stunning!!

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