LeBron ushers in the 'Ask Adam Anything' era of NBA leadership
LeBron James wants to have a chat with the new "commish," Adam Silver. Basketball royalty so casually requesting an audience with the CEO speaks to how much more open and approachable the new boss will be.
So LeBron James wants to have a chat with Adam Silver. (So do I, but that's another matter entirely.) LeBron wants to offer some ideas for how to make the game "bigger," and see right there, he's already on the same wavelength as the new NBA commissioner.
Silver, who replaces David Stern at the end of the work week, is all about growing the business. He was one of the key forces behind the league expanding its business operations to China. The next frontier will be India. The scale and scope of how far basketball can spread should not be underestimated.
But I'm intrigued by this chat LeBron wants to have with "the commish," as he calls Silver. I find his choice of words interesting. Without doing too much psychoanalysis, which covering the NBA actually does qualify me to perform, I'd say that James calling Silver "the commish" speaks to how much more approachable the new boss will be than the old boss.
Stern kept everyone at arm's length. Some team executives found him distant, always behind a wall of intermediaries. Silver texts people. He types, "LOL." He reads Twitter. Relative to Stern, who marauded through his undeniably successful three decades as commissioner with the air of an emperor, Silver is a man of the people.
So what about the forum for this chat that he and LeBron are going to have? On the eve of the Heat-Thunder game, I can hear Scott Brooks saying, "How about Wednesday night between 7-9:30 ET?" I have an even better idea. Silver should host an "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit, and LeBron should log in and ask his questions and pose his ideas. It would be the most popular AMA in the admittedly short history of AMAs. And it would speak directly to how popular the game has become, how far-reaching it is. The best player on the planet and the CEO of the $5 billion business, hashing it out online? Who needs a Super Bowl when you have that?
As for what ideas LeBron would propose, he isn't saying. He mentioned something about a lot of people wanting to watch the game that can't, but I'm not quite sure where he's going with that. Anyone with an Internet connection in more than 200 countries can watch any NBA game he or she desires.
Perhaps James has some ideas about how to grow the NBA business. While there's no denying he's a business-savvy athlete, Silver and his hand-picked deputy commissioner, Harvard Business School graduate Mark Tatum, should have that covered. When it comes to students of the game, few are more intellectual than James. So maybe he has some ideas to improve the quality of the game, such as widening the court to create more space for the bigger, stronger, faster athletes that are clogging it up now. That would be an excellent idea.
In the end, it doesn't really matter what LeBron and Silver discuss when they have their chat. The point is, they will have their chat; they may even set it up by texting each other. Before he's even sat down in the old boss' chair, it's clear that the new boss will be more accessible, more communicative, more approachable and more open to ideas. Silver will thus be exposed to some good ideas and some bad ones, and will need to be judicious in which ones he adopts.
And with that -- with a request from NBA royalty for an audience with "the commish" -- the "Ask Adam Anything" era of NBA leadership has begun. And I have to admit, it hasn't even officially started yet and I like it already.
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