National Basketball Association commissioner Adam Silver supports the new high school league, which will pay young players at least $ 100,000.
Silver spoke to the media this weekend to release his annual update on the NBA, the day before the 2021 All-Star Game takes place in Atlanta. The NBA boss discussed the new basketball league (Overtime Elite) of the media company Overtime for 16 to 18 year olds.
“I think it is generally good for the community to have optionality, especially when they are very solid people, which it seems to be [OTE], support it and behind it, “said Silver.” This is one thing that we will be paying a lot of attention to because these players may be the future of our league. “
On Thursday, OTE announced it would start in September and pay up to 30 players at least $ 100,000 if they choose to join. The league is backed by overtime investors, including NBA stars Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, and venture capital company Andreessen Horowitz.
Silver said he had “no objection to paying young people” any other way than turning professional and skipping the NCAA.
An overtime logo on a basketball court
“We formed Team Ignite in the G League to give players the opportunity not to go to college and become professionals,” said Silver. “You can go straight to the G League and be well compensated.”
The NBA requires a player to be 19 years old before entering the league. The Ignite program is designed for people who want to skip college but are not yet eligible. Ignite players will receive approximately $ 200,000 to $ 500,000 while waiting to be eligible. Silver said the NBA could change their eligibility rule in the next collective agreement, but for now the NBA will oversee the OTE.
“It’s good for the game,” said Silver. “It’s more focused on the game, especially everything that’s happening on digital media right now; social media, new streaming services. There’s definitely interest in this content, so let’s pay attention.”
Back to regular business in the fall
On the call, Silver also mentioned that the NBA is expecting a return to its regular schedule for the 2021-22 season with full arenas. The NBA cut their schedule to 72 games this season due to the effects of Covid-19, but would like to return to an 82 game season.
“It remains planned to continue our season as normally as possible next year,” said Silver, adding that he was “pretty optimistic” that the league will start in October. “If vaccines are used against the virus and its variants as quickly as before and continue to be as effective as we are, we hope we will have relatively full arenas next season as well.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver
Stacy Revere | Getty Images
When asked by CNBC to provide a financial update on the NBA, which suspended games almost a year ago due to the pandemic, Silver was optimistic. He said the league “is fortunate to operate in these circumstances” although their missing 40% of their fan sales are still limited.
“The league’s long-term health is very solid,” said Silver. “We are seeing significant losses between last year and this year. I generally do not speak publicly about this as the teams are largely privately owned and we are not suggesting that this is anyone else’s problem.”
“But last season and this season, the team owners have had to make significant investments – they accept that,” Silver continued. “The players will receive a salary cut this season because they are partners of the teams and the league in terms of revenue.”
The NBA missed sales forecasts by $ 1.5 billion due to Covid-19, according to the Associated Press. With the resumption of the games last July and the conclusion of the 2020-21 campaign, the company was able to ward off massive losses. Should it resume normal operations for 2021-22, Silver said all NBA players would not need any vaccinations.
“I don’t see every player who needs vaccination as an obstacle to fans returning to the arena,” said Silver. “I don’t think anymore that the fact that not every fan is vaccinated is an obstacle to fans returning to the arena.”
Men walk past a poster at an NBA exhibition in Beijing, China on October 8, 2019.
Jason Lee | Reuters
NBA-China Business Update
When asked about the affairs of the NBA in China, Silver suggested that the business be carried out as usual.
“Our business continued there,” said Silver. “We have hundreds of millions of fans in China and we see it as our business to serve those fans.”
NBA team manager Daryl Morey’s Twitter comments in 2019 supporting protesters in Hong Kong sparked conflict with China. Morey’s action resulted in China suspending NBA games on CCTV and streaming platform Tencent also restricting NBA content. The media company returned NBA games during the finale.
During the 2020 All-Star Game, Silver initially suggested that the feud could result in a loss of $ 400 million. The NBA valued its business in China at over $ 5 billion in 2019 following a $ 1.5 billion media rights deal with Tencent.
“Our values remain the same and our business continues,” said Silver. “And it’s mostly about exporting American basketball and the culture that goes with it to China.”