Dr. Silver and Mr. Greed: The hypocrisy of the NBA.

I am sure that we are all familiar with the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It is the story of a man dabbling with good and evil. It is the story of where a man can be both good and evil at the same time, yet the evil side will always become more dominant as time passes. It is a story that is a sad metaphor that is retold in hundreds iterations in human history. It is also the story of the NBA and its most recent commissioner: Adam Silver. Just like in Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous book, a drug was used to separate the good and the evil; the good and the evil in Silver is also brought forth by a drug: greed.

In the eponymous novel Mr. Hyde progressed from a bad event, the trampling of a young child, to the murder of a gentleman. Adam Silver might have just reached such a height. Silver just meted out one of the largest fines in NBA history to Joe Lacoby, owner of the Golden State Warriors. You see, Joe had the audacity to complain about the Luxury Tax system that the NBA employs. I have to admit that Joe used some pretty harsh language. He was quoted in a CBS Sports article using the words “penal” and “unfair”. Wow, I’m sure his mother wants to wash his mouth out with soap. She should probably use something stronger for such harsh rhetoric. Hopefully, the sarcasm is dripping. The Golden State Warriors, according to Lacoby, are paying around $170 million in luxury tax fees. We could argue whether or not the system is fair or whether or not we should care because Lacoby knew what he was getting into with the payroll, but we can’t argue that the Golden State Warriors have been organic in their development. Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson were all drafted by the Warriors. They have picked up cast off players like Andre Iguodala and Andrew Wiggins to supplement their roster, and Kevin Durant aside, have not really been a player in marquee free agency. Actually, the Warriors just lost Otto Porter Jr and Gary Payton III, two players that they revitalized, in free agency due to the luxury tax. This is not the Brooklyn Nets that went out and signed Durant, Irving, and Harden or The Decision. The Warriors are being penalized for being good at finding talent and wanting to keep the family together. Yet, Adam Silver has to trample that family out of greed.

Regardless of your stance on luxury tax, Joe Lacoby should have the right to complain about a system of which he is a major part. The Warriors bring in a ton of revenue for the league and have formed a dynasty. Regardless, even owners of teams like the lowly Pistons, a recent bottom feeder, deserve to have a say in their business dealings. Adam Silver deciding to hammer Lacoby for complaining about a work issue is draconian, Machiavellian, and several -ians that no one ever uses in speech or text. It seems like there is something called Free Speech that is being abridged here, which leads me to my case that Adam Silver has taken a Mr. Hyde-esque trip to the dark side of morality.

Joe Lacoby aside, Adam Silver tosses out fines like it’s candy at a parade. The Mavs this year were fined three times because their bench stood the majority of a game. Let me repeat this, the Mavs were fined three times for standing. This wasn’t a small sum either; the total penalty added up to $200,000. I could understand fining a bench if they were shouting racial slurs, misogynistic slurs, profanity, etc, but they were cheering for their teammates. You have a group of millionaires that are all experts at their craft and can have egos; instead of these men showing hubris and greed, they are being role models for kids: be a good teammate even if your butt is on the bench. But this lesson means crap to Adam Silver because it might cost him money. You see, people behind the bench might stop paying big money for those seats. For Dr. Jekyll, a potion turned him into the evil Mr. Hyde, for Adam Silver it is money that turns him evil.

Money plays a role in Silvers views on politics. In 2019, Daryl Morey of the Houston Rockets tweeted a pro-Hong Kong sentiment. The NBA sent out an English tweet and a Chinese tweet. The Chinese tweet, which looked little like its English variant, made use of communist propaganda messages and said that the NBA “was extremely disappointed in the inappropriate comment”. Politicians from both sides of the aisle lambasted the NBA for putting profit, the Chinese government threatened to ban the airing of games, over democracy and freedom. The NBA also bowed to public pressure during the Bubble when players threatened to boycott unless a BLM logo was placed on the playing floor and slogans like “I can’t breath” and “Justice” on shooting shirts. Adrian Wojnarowski reported that this was a very divisive stand but Adam Silver mandated the action. In the end, both sides felt disenfranchised as those opposed felt it heavy handed and those in favor viewed it as lip service and short-lived. It doesn’t matter what your views are on either of these events, or my views; the key part of this is that Adam Silver made the NBA do both actions solely because of threats to his pocket book. To Adam Silver, there is only one political stance that matters: money.

Mark Cuban is another franchise owner that has experienced Adam Silver’s heavy hand. According to Bleacher Reports, Cuban has paid almost $2 million in fines, three times more than any other individual. A lot of Cuban’s infractions have been referee related. I am five million percent behind Cuban on this one, as the consistency of calls has been questionable. I remember when Serge Ibaka broke Lebron James’s nose on a no call. We all just witnessed Draymond Green steamroll Celtics during Game 2 of the Finals this year; sadly, it was the trampled player that was assessed a foul. During the Finals, I wrote an article on the impact that Tony Brothers played in changing the flow of the series. After a Game 1 collapse by Golden State, it looked like the Celtics were going to run away with the series. This was Adam Silver’s worst case scenario- a Finals sweep, so refs were brought in that made sure the Warriors didn’t leave San Fran down 0-2. Think that this is too conspiracy theory? Well, let’s listen to former referee/the NBA’s referee analyst Steve Javie on this: https://youtu.be/g9KUFdpNI68 . Javie flat out admits that “good refereeing” is taking into account who has fouls. Why is that important? The NBA makes money if certain people are on the floor. Notice that Tony Brothers is the one making the decision. In the end, the Warriors Draymond Green was allowed to get away with a flagrant foul that should have ejected him form the game.

In the book Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll finally realized that he had lost all hope of being good. His only recourse was to go away. The only chance for the NBA to get clean is to get a commissioner that cares about something other than the money. It’s time for Adam Silver to step down.

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