Why Adam Silver Is By Far The Best Commissioner In Sports
Football season is over. Baseball hasn't started. Now is the season of dominance for the NBA.
Basketball includes all of the stupefying athleticism of football, but none of the guilt-inducing violence.
If you like the trickling stream that is baseball, then GTFO because basketball's pace is an engorged river charging through a canyon of three-pointers, dope passes and dunks.
The players are not hiding under helmet or hats. Fans have direct access to their personalities, and under the Athlete Law of Comedy, where every huge, agile human is at least somewhere between five and 20 times funnier, the NBA is full of comic geniuses.
Retired Shaq is the best example. A normal person crashing into a Christmas tree is just kinda uncomfortable, but Shaq demolishing TNT's prop tree is a moment that should be locked in a time capsule and shown to future generations as the ultimate example of what was funny in 2014.
The league is as competitive as ever, with surprise contenders and a level of league-wide talent not seen since Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan were tugging over the title of basketball's alpha dog.
But, perhaps the NBA's best attribute is commissioner Adam Silver.
After occupying lofty positions within the NBA for about 8 years, Silver succeeded David Stern and immediately met a doozy of a scandal.
As we all remember, Donald Sterling was recorded sounding like Calvin Candy, instead of a valued member of the NBA ownership community.
Silver could have waffled and played to owners' fears that they might get caught in a similar situation. He could have hit Sterling with a fine, suspension or strongly worded reprimand, and we would have been adequately satiated.
Instead, he laid down the hammer and banned Sterling for life.
He kicked the wheezing, droopy racist out of the league and replaced him. He has also opened up discussion about legalizing gambling, reforming the draft lottery that rewards "tanking" and abolishing the archaic conference playoff system. Everything he has done has made the NBA either more fun or more fair.
Silver has earned a rare element: trust. For the first time in my generation, fans actually trust the head of a sports organization.
David Stern did tons for the league, and the NBA might still be barnstorming without him, but his efficacy came with the grease of conspiracy.
Stern is the central figure in a web of semi-credible theories including the frozen envelope, the fixing of the 2002 Western Conference Finals and Michael Jordan's two-year first retirement from basketball — not to play baseball — but to cool out his gambling habit.
Even if these rumors aren't true, their existence proves we didn't trust David Stern. Like a humble olive oil importer with political connections and plentiful cash, we assumed there was more to the story than he revealed.
Bud Selig is tarnished for profiteering from the illegally enhanced limbs of superstars, and then acting as though he was morally outraged when information about the wide spread of HGH came to light.
With the prevalence of steroids at their peak, Bud either had to be dishonest or incompetent not to put a halt to the practice.
Roger Goodell is among the most evil and well-paid human beings on the planet today. He botched a career's worth of scandals every year. He has made building mistrust a performance art form.
Unfortunately, his ruling of the NFL with the tact of a mustachioed soap opera villain has made a ton of money, so he's not going anywhere, anytime soon.
But, it is not just the Big Three's head honchos that have been mired in a tar pit of collusion.
In the last decade or two, we've seen nothing put a progression of leaders making the shame face. Our presidents lie about blowjobs and causes for war.
Our senators send dick pics. Our governors have affairs with elite escorts and their maids. Our financial leaders gamble with the pensions of the elderly. Our police officers kill people on camera.
Sh*t is cray. But, at least the guy in charge of basketball isn't so bad.