Being in touch with the players is one of Adam Silver‘s greatest strengths. Silver’s a good commissioner because he regularly hears the side of the team owners and players to strike a balance between the two. But, in recent years, the Commissioner has been criticized for leaning too much on the players’ side. While talking about the upcoming NBA season, Silver made an admission that revealed how massive LeBron James’s influence is in the NBA.
Silver consulted James about play-in tournaments
LeBron criticized last season’s condensed schedule as one of the reasons why so many players were injured in the Playoffs. Teams had to play back-to-backs to finish the regular season and Playoffs according to the target dates. It left a mark on the Playoffs, as fans claimed that the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks’ path to the Finals was easier because they battled teams with injured stars watching from the sidelines. LeBron used the opportunity to voice his frustration (and get back into the spotlight after the Lakers were eliminated.)
Silver reportedly consulted The King regarding adjustments on the season next year, especially the play-in tournament.
“We talked about it. I think at the end of the day, I understand. Especially if you went deep last year and you have that end, you have that many sort of games on your legs. You’re not looking forward to more games. But, I think he understands the context of the league.”Adam Silver, TMZ Sports
The Commissioner pointed out the Players Union approved the schedule, implying that everyone was on board with increasing injury risk to make sure the TV deal is fulfilled in full and all the money from that deal is secured. That’s the “context of the league” Silver was referring to.
This move would raise suspicion in the basketball fandom that James has massive influence on his team and how the league is being run. LeBron is not even the NBA players union President – that position belongs to CJ McCollum, which makes it even more interesting why Silver had to seek LeBron’s opinion on this matter.
When LeBron fails to reach the Finals or has an early Playoffs exit, expect changes to happen in the offseason. Only three years into his Lakers tenure, James is the veteran on the team – every player that was on the roster when he arrived is no longer a Los Angeles Laker. LeBron insisted he has nothing to do with it, but the list of players traded and coaches fired upon his arrival, or a bad result keeps growing.
The NBA is a superstar-driven league, and no one is more empowered than LeBron James. Others may have the titles and leadership positions, but LeBron gets the phone calls. It’s great the NBA listens to players before making major decisions, but what’s the point of the NBPA and their organizational structure if it’s not respected?
Maybe Silver wanted to call the Lakers union representative, but given the fact Jared Dudley and Alex Caruso are no longer with the team, he called the veteran until the Lakers elect new leadership. It will be interesting to see if LeBron will become the new Lakers union representative, as he is obviously already in touch with the Comish.