How Adam Silver evolves after Robert Sarver decision will determine his tenure as NBA commissioner

Never has a sports commissioner sounded so fierce, so forceful and so empowered as Adam Silver in that moment.

His stewardship was just 87 days old in 2014 when handing down an unprecedented penalty to then-Clippers owner Donald Sterling, following audio of racist comments.

Silver cashed in on equity he hadn’t yet earned with NBA team owners, a novice in the position as caretaker for the game but set a tone — even if it was more symbolic and idealistic.

I am personally distraught that the views expressed by Mr. Sterling came from within an institution that has historically taken a leadership role in matters of race relations,” Silver said that day.

“And caused current and former players, coaches, fans and partners of the NBA to question their very association with the league.”

But, he buckled. If anyone believed he’s anything but an employee for the team owners, he delivered that clarity. Jeanie Buss won’t be grilled about this, neither will Steve Ballmer.

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