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Adam Silver, a lawyer and former NBA executive, is the league's current and fifth Commissioner. He has been an NBA employee since 1992, and his most recent position was that of Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Commissioner under David Stern, his mentor and former boss. After Stern's departure in 2014, Silver was appointed the new Commissioner, and under his leadership, the league has seen an increase in its financial standing and global reach, particularly in China. Silver was born on April 25, 1962, in a Jewish-American family in Los Angeles. His father, Edward Silver, was a labor law expert and senior partner at the company Proskauer Rose and served as a role model for Silver. He was raised in Rye, New York, a Westchester County suburb of New York City, and graduated from Rye High School in 1980. He then attended Duke University, where he was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, and graduated in 1984 with a bachelor's degree in political science. From 1984 to 1985, he served as a legislative assistant to the United States House of Representatives Les AuCoin. In 1988, he graduated from the University of Chicago Law School with a J.D. degree in civil litigation and was then employed as a law clerk by Judge Kimba Wood of the Southern District of New York's federal district court. He then joined Cravath, Swaine & Moore as an associate.
Before taking on the role of NBA Commissioner, Silver had served as the league's Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer for eight years. During his time at the NBA, he worked on projects such as NBA China, the WNBA, the NBA Development League, the NBA's partnership with Turner Broadcasting to manage its digital assets, and three of the league's most recent collective bargaining agreements with the National Basketball Players Association (NBA). Silver had also been the NBA Entertainment President and COO since joining the NBA in 1992, and had previously held the positions of Senior Vice President and COO of NBA Entertainment, Chief of Staff to the Commissioner, and Special Assistant to the Commissioner. While at NBA Entertainment, Silver was the Executive Producer of the IMAX film Michael Jordan to the Max and the documentary Whatever Happened to Michael Ray? He was also a team member on the Like Mike and The Year of the Yao production teams. On October 25, 2012, David Stern announced that he would step down as NBA Commissioner on February 1, 2014.
On April 25, 2014, a video obtained by TMZ Sports showed Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling speaking to his fiancée in a racist manner. In response, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued Sterling's lifetime suspension on April 29, 2014 and fined him $2.5 million, the maximum penalty allowed by the league constitution. Sterling's influence over the Clippers was reduced to a minimum, and the team's owners were persuaded to vote to remove him from ownership. No one was allowed to enter any of the Clippers' buildings or attend any NBA games because Sterling was banned from doing so. It was one of the most severe fines ever imposed on a prominent sports franchise owner. On November 13, 2014, Silver wrote an op-ed for The New York Times in which he argued that sports betting should be "brought out of the shadows and into the sunlight, where it can be efficiently monitored and regulated." On October 4, 2019, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey expressed his support for the 2019-2020 Hong Kong protests.
In the end, Morey decided to take the tweet off his feed. In a statement released on October 6, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called Morey's tweet "regrettable," while Morey said he did not mean to insult anyone. A bipartisan outcry erupted among several U.S. government officials when the comments were made. As Silver explained on October 7, he respected Morey's right to free speech while also respecting the right of China's government and enterprises to respond to his tweet. Soon after, Silver was confronted with a potential clash between the NBA and China. China threatened to cut ties with the NBA due to its outrage. Silver made it clear in public that "Many people from different parts of the world, including Americans and Chinese, will have differing viewpoints on certain topics. It is not the role of the NBA to mediate these conflicts." In response to Silver's remarks, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer Vivo issued the following statement: "There is no room in Vivo for anything that could jeopardize the country's sovereignty or territorial integrity, which is why the organization has always put the national interest first. As of right now, Vivo will no longer be collaborating with the NBA."
On March 11, 2020, Silver decided to halt the 2019–20 NBA season in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. On June 4, 2020, 22 of the 30 NBA teams announced they would restart their seasons with a $170 million investment to safeguard players, coaches, and the season's success. To quote Silver, "The bubble was better than we had envisioned" near the end of the regular season.
Maggie, Silver's wife, has been married to him since 2015. They have two daughters; the first was born in April 2017 and the second in May 2020.
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