Adam Silver NBA All-Star press conference: Commissioner honors Kobe Bryant; addresses China, league's future

Silver provided updates on what's going on with the NBA, both on and off of the court

As he does every year, NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed the media at All-Star Weekend in Chicago on Saturday night. Silver provided an update on the status of the league -- both on and off of the court -- and then took questions from media members. As commissioner, Silver is always looking for ways to improve the product that the league puts out, and that was clear in his comments. 

Silver's availability, which he began by paying tribute to David Stern and Kobe Bryant, lasted over half an hour during which time he touched on a wide variety of topics, including the current status of the league's relationship with China, the potential addition of a midseason tournament, potential changes to the league's regular season and playoff schedule, and the development of the BAL

One of the main takeaways from the press conference was the fact that the league has renamed the All-Star MVP trophy after Bryant. The award will now officially be called the Kia NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award, and it will be handed out for the first time on Sunday night. Considering the universal respect that the league's players have for Bryant, it's safe to say that this is an award that players will want to win. 

"Kobe Bryant is synonymous with NBA All-Star and embodies the spirit of this global celebration of our game," Silver said. "He always relished the opportunity to compete with the best of the best and perform at the highest level for millions of fans around the world."  

As far as the league's relationship with China, well, let's just say it's still a work in progress. Silver said that NBA games in China are not back on CCTV, but he is optimistic that they will be in the not-too-distant future. He also noted the league still has a strong fan base in China. Silver acknowledged that the financial fallout from the issues with China has cost the league hundreds of millions of dollars, though not near a billion dollars as some reports suggested. 

As far as the league's declining television ratings, Silver said that there's still massive interest in the NBA as a product, but he cited injury issues, along with a disconnect with younger viewers who don't watch traditional television as main issues in the NBA's declining television ratings, though he called the dip in ratings a "solvable" problem. Silver also said that he is still optimistic that the NBA will indeed introduce a midseason tournament in the future, as well as play-in games for postseason berths, and he acknowledged that the league will continue to discuss ways to improve the regular season, although no such changes are imminent. 

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Commissioner Silver ended his media availability talking about the NBA's TV ratings. He said that there's major interest in the league as a product, but acknowledged some structural issues regarding how games are consumed today.

Silver said he learned of Kobe Bryant's passing shortly after it occurred. He called the event "unspeakable."

Silver said the league was thinking of a permanent way to honor Bryant, and that's how they came up with the MVP award. He noted the fact that Bryant played in a record 18 All-Star games and won the game's MVP award four times.

Adam Silver said that the NBA's issues with China cost them a "substantial" amount of money. However, he said that the number was much less than $1 billion, and was instead closer to $300 million.

Silver is still optimistic that the league will implement a mid-season tournament. However, such a change doesn't seem imminent. Silver admits he may have been naive thinking that such big changes could be implemented in a quick manner.

Silver said he is personally very excited about the Basketball Africa League (BAL), which is set to tip off its inaugural season next month. The 12 teams in the league were officially announced earlier today.

Adam Silver was asked about the status of the league's current relationship with China. He says games in China are not back on state TV, but he hopes they will be eventually. He also noted the NBA still has a strong fan base in China.

Adam Silver said the games that took place on the day Kobe Bryant died proceeded because fans were already in several arenas, and at that time Bryant's death hadn't been officially verified. The league didn't want to make moves on something that hadn't been made official yet.

The new award named after Bryant will officially be called the "NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award."

Pictures of David Stern and Kobe Bryant were added to the NBA's official credentials for All-Star weekend. Silver said that the pictures were "so everybody can have them in their hearts while they're here."

Adam Silver announces that the NBA is naming the All-Star MVP trophy after Kobe Bryant. The first one will be handed out at the 2020 All-Star Game on Sunday night. 

Adam Silver said he became especially close with Kobe Bryant after his NBA career. He called his loss "unspeakable."

Silver is now talking about Kobe Bryant and the legacy that he left behind after two decades with the Los Angeles Lakers. He said that Bryant had a lot in common with Stern.

Adam Silver said that David Stern had a vision of what the NBA could become, and he said that the league wouldn't be what it is today without Stern's influence.

Former NBA commissioner David Stern is Silver's first topic of discussion. He called him a "close friend" and a "mentor." He also called Stern's passing a huge loss for the league.

Adam Silver starts off his media availability by discussing his connection to the city of Chicago and thanking the Reinsdorf family for bringing All-Star weekend to Chicago again.

Adam Silver is making his way to the podium.

Adam Silver's press conference is set to start at 7 pm E.T. It will air live on NBA TV.

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