“My preference would be that players adhere to our uniform rules, both in the NBA and the WNBA,” Silver said during his news conference following the NBA’s board of governors meetings here Tuesday night. “I think it’s a very slippery slope. As to where you would draw the line when it’s appropriate for a particular player to use that, use a game, pregame, as a political forum, I think it’s a dangerous road for us to go down.
“I would greatly prefer that the players use the platform they’re given, social media, press conferences, media in locker rooms, however they want to do it, to make their political points of view be known.”
Silver stressed, however, that he thinks players willing to use their platforms to discuss these issues should have the right to do so. To that point, he mentioned an intriguing possibility: The potential for Team USA — which will begin training in Las Vegas for next month’s Olympics in Rio de Janiero next week
— to have a chance to sit down with members of the community to discuss, among other things, the recent shootings that have taken place in Minnesota, Baton Rouge and Dallas.
“I think one of the things we’ve discussed with [Team USA Executive Director] Jerry Colangelo and [Team USA Coach Mike Krzyzewski] is whether there’s an appropriate forum for them when they’re still in the United States,” Silver said. “They’re playing several exhibition games in cities like Houston and Los Angeles and maybe potentially picking one of those cities and creating some sort of forum. Maybe it’s an opportunity to sit down with police officers, with local folks, the youth of the community who are directly affected by these issues, to have a platform to talk about these things.
“I think one of the great things about sports is it does bring people together. Without going too long on this, I think part of the fundamental issue is trust, and I think maybe using basketball, using this platform, we can get people having a very healthy dialogue on these issues.
“In short, I think those are the platforms, whether they’re created by the league or players on their own as opposed to using our uniforms for political expression. My preference would be the former.”
>>> Speaking of the NBA being involved in matters of social significance, the league again put off making a final decision on the 2017 All-Star Game being played in Charlotte next February. However, Silver admitted — after saying last month the time for a decision would likely be sometime in July — that the time for making one is drawing near.
“It’s a process,” Silver said. “I’d only say, one, we were waiting for the legislative session, and we were frankly hoping that they would make some steps toward modifying the legislation, and frankly I was disappointed that they didn’t. And then, coming out of that legislative session, we wanted the opportunity to talk directly to our teams. As I said, we had committee meetings today in addition to full board of governors, so we wanted to have the discussion with them. I think this is a very difficult issue for us, and we’re trying to be extremely cautious and deliberate in how we go about making the decision.
“But having said that, I recognize that we’re not trying to keep everyone in suspense. We recognize this decision needs to be made fairly quickly.”
Silver added that it will be the league office — not the owners — that will make the final decision on whether to move the game.