Ever since Adam Silver stepped into the role of NBA commissioner in 2014, he has remained vocal on social and racial issues. Although he’s strict on his players, Silver allows them to have the freedom to express their feelings and views through their actions on and off the court.
Recently, he expressed to The Undefeated his stance on athletes who take controversial positions on racial issues, and how he has handled these instances as NBA commissioner.
“There have forever in this league been questions about social justice, about issues of diversity, respect, inclusion, about economic opportunities, about racial injustice,” Silver said. “All those things, all bundled together, that might lead someone to want to protest. What we did in [the Kaepernick] case — the players association together with the league — was to speak directly to our players about those issues and deal with issues we felt we can have a direct impact on. And that meant putting together forums — many, by the way, that had begun before any protest occurred in the NFL.”
One of the most recent racial issues that occurred within the NBA involved songstress Sevyn Streeter, who was told she couldn’t perform the national anthem at the Philadelphia 76ers home game because of her shirt’s social justice message.
“On the Philadelphia anthem thing, you put yourself in the team’s shoes: You have a real-time situation where – not the senior management of the team – has to make a real-time decision,” he said. “I think it’s easy to look back in retrospect and say this anthem singer should have been free to express herself with a ‘We Matter’ T-shirt. But I don’t want to suggest these were easy decisions.”
Following the election of Donald Trump, a few NBA players have expressed their thoughts on declining an invitation to visit the White House. To this revelation, Silver thinks that thought process would actually hinder the player.
“To me, if a player were to choose not to go to the White House, whether they were choosing not to go to the current White House or a future White House, my response would be: ‘That’s a lost opportunity,’” Silver said. “Because that’s an opportunity that most citizens who have a political point of view would kill for — the opportunity to directly tell the president of the United States how they feel about an issue.”