Today’s news conference was not what Adam Silver likely envisioned when he considered his first major act as NBA commissioner. But, as we say when a new coach is introduced and wows a crowd, Silver won the presser today.
Newly appointed NBA commissioner Silver today announced that the league would fine Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling the league maximum $2.5 million and ban him for life from his team and any basketball operations.
Whatever your thoughts regarding right and wrong in this case, no one can argue that Silver, who has only occupied the boss’s chair for three months, handled his first PR crisis in textbook fashion and then some. It was only Saturday morning that a racially laced audio surfaced in which Sterling spewed hatred in a conversation with his girlfriend. Ire erupted from all corners of sports and civilian planets and the topic has dominated traditional and social media ever since. Silver spoke publicly Saturday, and promised a quick and thorough investigation.
Just three days later, Silver said that not only had his office determined that the voice on the audio was Sterling’s, but that the Clippers owner admitted as much. In a tone and confidence that often evolves with time, Silver explained the legal elements with which he was about to act, then lowered the boom on Sterling with a firm voice and obvious irritation that a man had tarnished not only one club’s name, but the NBA’s image, as well.
Silver initially read from notes, likely, to accurately and factually communicate his rights as NBA commissioner. He further expressed himself candidly and decisively when he explained the punishment assessed. He pulled no punches. Silver spoke with authority, confidence and most importantly, understandably to the masses. It’s very easy for a person with a legal background such as Silver, to slip into legal speak. He did none of that. He outlined each item and answered media with brief, emphatic and uncomplicated answers. He commanded his audience that expanded far beyond the media in front of him. In reading social media responses, Silver bulldozed an ugly, contaminated house and emerged with plans to build a contemporary bungalow.
His job regarding the Sterling issue is far from done. With Sterling’s stubborn, litigious reputation, he won’t go away quietly. Silver will depend on the Association’s attorneys and NBA owners to make sure that the sentence against Sterling sticks.
Until then, Silver put a huge stamp on his reputational stationery, and the world took notice.
(Copyright, Gail Sideman, PUBLISIDE)