Commissioner of the NBA

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Commissioner of the NBA
Adam Silver (15847004771) (cropped).jpg
Adam Silver
since February 1, 2014
Inaugural holderMaurice Podoloff
DeputyMark Tatum

The Commissioner of the NBA is the chief executive of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The current commissioner is Adam Silver, who succeeded David Stern on February 1, 2014.

List of NBA commissioners[edit]

# Image Name Deputy Tenure start Tenure end Tenure length
1 No image.svg Maurice Podoloff - June 6, 1946 April 30, 1963 16 years and 329 days
2 No image.svg J. Walter Kennedy - May 1, 1963 May 31, 1975 12 years and 31 days
3 Larry O'Brien 1961.jpg Larry O'Brien - June 1, 1975 January 31, 1984 8 years and 245 days
4 David Stern (cropped).jpg David Stern Adam Silver February 1, 1984 January 31, 2014 30 years and 0 days
5 Adam Silver 2014 (cropped).jpg Adam Silver Mark Tatum February 1, 2014 Incumbent 9 years and 44 days

Maurice Podoloff (1946–1963)[edit]

Maurice Podoloff was the first president of the NBA. He served from the league's founding as the Basketball Association of America (BAA) in 1946 until 1947.

After the BAA signed several of the top names in the National Basketball League (NBL) into the league, Podoloff negotiated a merger between the two groups to form the National Basketball Association in 1949. As a lawyer with no previous basketball experience, Podoloff's great organizational and administrative skills were later regarded as the key factor that kept the league alive in its often stormy formative years.

In 17 years as president, Podoloff expanded the NBA to as many as 19 teams. He also briefly formed three divisions and scheduled 558 games.

During his tenure, Podoloff introduced the collegiate draft in 1947, and in 1954 instituted the 24 second shot clock created by Dan Biasone, owner of the Syracuse Nationals which quickened the pace of games, and took the NBA from a slow plodding game to a fast-paced sport. In 1954, Podoloff also increased national recognition of the game immensely by securing its first television contract.

As the commissioner of the NBA, he was the one who gave lifetime suspensions to Indianapolis Olympians players Ralph Beard and Alex Groza, not for what they did in the NBA but for point shaving in college at the University of Kentucky.

Maurice Podoloff stepped down as NBA Commissioner in 1963. During his period in office, he had helped increase fan interest during the NBA's formative years and improved the overall welfare of the sport of basketball through his foresight, wisdom, and leadership. In his honor, the NBA would name its annual league Most Valuable Player trophy the Maurice Podoloff Trophy.

J. Walter Kennedy (1963–1975)[edit]

Succeeding first president Maurice Podoloff, the likable, approachable J. Walter Kennedy became an iron-handed executive and let everyone know precisely where he stood on issues. Kennedy quickly exerted his authority, slapping Red Auerbach with a $500 fine for rowdy conduct during a pre-season 1963 game. At the time, it was the largest fine ever levied against a coach or player in the NBA.

His title was changed to "commissioner" in 1967. Kennedy was also the commissioner who upheld the first protest ever in the NBA, which was the one filed by the Chicago Bulls for "the Phantom Buzzer Game" against the Atlanta Hawks in 1969.

The new commissioner came into the NBA when the league was struggling with only nine teams, no television contract, sagging attendance and competition from the increasingly popular American Basketball Association. When Kennedy retired in 1975 as commissioner, the league had increased to 18 teams, landed a lucrative television contract and improved its financial standing considerably, experienced a 200 percent boost in income and attendance figures tripled during his tenure.

Walter Kennedy was also instrumental in bringing an annual NBA game to Springfield to benefit the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, where he served on Hall of Fame's Board of Trustees for 13 years, including two years as the Hall of Fame's President. Kennedy himself would be inducted into the Hall in 1981. The NBA's annual citizenship award recognizing "outstanding service and dedication to the community" is named in Kennedy's honor.

Larry O'Brien (1975–1984)[edit]

Larry O'Brien was appointed in 1975 by the National Basketball Association to serve nationally as its commissioner, where he directed the successful ABA–NBA merger. It brought the American Basketball Association into the NBA, negotiated television-broadcast agreements with CBS, and saw game attendance increase significantly. He continued this service through 1984. The NBA Championship Trophy was renamed in 1984 the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy in honor of his service to the sport of basketball.

However, his league was troubled by public relations issues through his tenure, especially after the merger. He was generally pushed by his staff into many of his decisions, most notably by his successor as NBA commissioner, David Stern. Many consider Stern the driving force behind the television contracts with CBS and rise in game attendance, as well as several crucial issues that predicated the rise of the NBA in the early 1980s.[1]

O'Brien was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, located in his birthplace, Springfield, Massachusetts.

NBA career highlights[edit]

David Stern (1984–2014)[edit]

On February 1, 1984, David Stern became the Commissioner of the NBA, succeeding Larry O'Brien. It was during that same year (1984–85) that four of the NBA's biggest superstars – Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton—entered the league.

The arrival of Michael Jordan, in particular, ushered in a new era of commercial bounty for the NBA. With him came his flair and talent for the game, and that brought in source contracts from Nike which helped to give the league even more national attention.[2] Jordan and the two other premier basketball players of the 1980s, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, took the game to new heights of popularity and profit. By 2004, Stern oversaw the NBA's expansion from 10 to 30 franchises (since 1966), expansion into Canada, and televising games in countries around the world.

Stern also oversaw the creation of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), a professional women's basketball league. Stern has been credited for developing and broadening the NBA's audience, by setting up training camps, playing exhibition games around the world, and recruiting more international players.[3]

The NBA now has eleven offices in cities outside the United States, is televised in 215 countries around the world in 43 languages, and operates the WNBA and the National Basketball Development League under Stern's watch.[4][5]

Following a Board of Governors meeting in October 2012, Stern announced that he would retire from the office of Commissioner by February 1, 2014. It was also announced that he would be succeeded by then-Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Adam Silver.[6] Stern stepped down from the position at end of day on January 31, 2014, concluding a 30-year tenure to the day.[7][8]

Notable events during Stern's tenure[edit]

[11][circular reference] [12][circular reference] [13][circular reference] [14][circular reference]

Adam Silver (2014–present)[edit]

On February 1, 2014, Adam Silver was unanimously approved to succeed David Stern as Commissioner of the NBA. Originally the Deputy Commissioner from 2006 through 2014, he was a protege of David Stern, who endorsed Silver to be his replacement in October 2013.[15] Previously, Silver worked as senior vice president of NBA Entertainment, president of NBA Entertainment, a special assistant to the commissioner, NBA chief of staff, and Deputy Commissioner under Stern.[16] Basketballs for games now contain Silver's signature, a first for the NBA. Silver hand-picked Mark Tatum as his Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer. Tatum is the first African-American Deputy Commissioner of the NBA in history.[16][17]

Three months into Silver's tenure, he banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the league for life in response to racist comments made by Sterling, during a private telephone conversation with Sterling's girlfriend. Additionally, he fined Sterling US$2.5 million, the maximum allowed under the NBA Constitution, and urged owners to vote to expel Sterling from ownership of the Clippers, which they eventually did. Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft CEO, became the new owner of the Clippers.

Six years into Silver's tenure, he announced that the league would suspend operations as a result of Rudy Gobert testing positive for coronavirus disease 2019.

See also[edit]

Commissioners of major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada:


  1. ^ Halberstam, David (1999). Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World he Made. Random House. ISBN 0-7679-0444-3.
  2. ^ Burns, Marty (2002-05-07). "In terms of dollars, Jordan was NBA's real MVP". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2007-07-20.
  3. ^ DuPree, David. "NBA Finals are whole new world", USA Today, June 14, 2005. Retrieved September 3, 2007.
  4. ^ "Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce eNews". Archived from the original on 2006-03-18. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  5. ^ "David J. Stern". 2007-11-09. Archived from the original on 2010-07-17. Retrieved 2011-01-10.
  6. ^ Wojnarowski, Adrian. "David Stern stepping down as NBA commissioner in 2014; Adam Silver will take over". Retrieved October 25, 2012.
  7. ^ Stein, Marc (January 31, 2014). "Hard to imagine NBA without Stern". Retrieved February 1, 2014.
  8. ^ Aldridge, David (January 27, 2014). "Oral history: The life and times of Commissioner David Stern". Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
  9. ^ Sheridan, Chris (10 June 2008). "2002 Lakers-Kings Game 6 at heart of Donaghy allegations". Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  10. ^ Munson, Lester (12 June 2008). "NBA's pursuit of restitution from Donaghy a blunder". Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  11. ^ David Stern
  12. ^ Charlotte Hornets
  13. ^ New Orleans Pelicans
  14. ^ Seattle SuperSonics#Relocation to Oklahoma City
  15. ^ "Silver replaces Stern as NBA commissioner". (Press release). Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. Associated Press. February 1, 2014. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
  16. ^ a b "NBA Careers". Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  17. ^ "Mark Tatum will succeed Adam Silver as NBA deputy commissioner". Retrieved 11 March 2019.