Stern: Silver worthy successor as NBA commissioner

February 25, 2012 - 10:16 PM
NBA All Star Basketball

NBA Commissioner David Stern speaks to reporters before NBA All-Star basketball festivities in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012. ({AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — David Stern will reveal only two things about his future as NBA commissioner.

He'll be retired within five years, and he hopes Adam Silver replaces him.

Stern endorsed Silver for the job on Saturday, calling the deputy commissioner and 20-year employee of the NBA a "first-rate, top of the class executive."

"I guess I would say that one of the things that a good CEO does, and I try to be a good CEO, is provide his board with a spectacular choice for its successor, and I think I've done that, and that's Adam," Stern said, with Silver sitting at a table to his right.

"That's ultimately, if I had the decision, if I were doing it myself, he would be the commissioner."

However, Stern said the choice would be left to the owners, and he's given them no indication when they will have to make it.

Stern committed to a minimum of five more years on the job after the previous collective bargaining agreement was ratified in 2005. He said he's told them nothing now, though he said the discussion would come "very soon." He repeated what he's said previously about not being around to handle the next round of negotiations, which could be in 2017 if either side exercises its right to opt out of the 10-year deal.

"I'm not going to be here when it either is or isn't reopened in six years," he said.

Silver was already the lead negotiator during the recent labor talks, leading owners through a five-month lockout to a new deal in which they saved about $280 million a year in player salary costs.

Stern has leaned on his longtime assistant and the former president of NBA Entertainment more frequently in recent years, often leaving it to him to answer difficult questions. He passed the microphone to Silver on a couple of occasions Saturday for questions about the league's future that Stern, 69, may not be around to answer.

He has plenty of business to complete now.

He will meet Sunday with leadership from Sacramento and the Maloof family, who own the Kings, as the sides try to beat a March 1 deadline to complete a plan to finance a new arena the city needs to keep the team.

"We'd like the city, on behalf of the Maloofs, to make the largest possible contribution," Stern said. "The city would like the Maloofs to make the largest — both have come up with very substantial contributions. It's really getting there. It's just not there yet. And we're looking for ways, imaginative ways, to bridge the gap."

Also Saturday:

—Stern said the league is in discussions with one unnamed group, with another sitting behind, for the sale of the Hornets. He is optimistic a deal can get done in a week to 10 days.

—Stern doesn't see expanding beyond 30 teams in North America, but neither he nor Silver would rule out overseas in the next decade.

—Silver said the league is working to schedule games in London next season, after this season's games at the O2Arena had to be scrapped because of the condensed schedule.

—Silver said Nike and Adidas, in the wake of reports they try to steer stars to large markets, have assured the league that the incentives they build into contracts are based on winning, not market size.

—Stern said the league will return to Orlando for another All-Star game, though didn't say when. The game hadn't been here in 20 years, but Stern said there's "no better building in the world" than the new Amway Center.

—Silver said the league is in discussions about playing preseason games next season in China, perhaps in Shanghai, where former Houston All-Star Yao Ming owns the Chinese Basketball Association team.