When the Heat and Spurs both complained mightily about having to wear short-sleeved jerseys for Noche Latina, we floated the concept of new NBA commissioner Adam Silver reversing course and ditching sleeves (which are, let’s be an honest, the perfect place for advertisements). Mr. Silver must read a lot of SportsGrid, because he’s reportedly considering doing just that.
Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck spoke with Silver, who isn’t deaf to the fact that a lot of NBA players, not just LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard, “hate” the sleeves. But he does seem to hold LeBron’s opinion in high regard:
“Ultimately, if the players don’t like them, we’ll move on to something else,” Silver told Bleacher Report. “I don’t regret doing it for this season. But it’s intended to be something fun for the fans and the players. And if it becomes a serious issue, as to whether players should be wearing sleeves, we’ll likely move onto other things…
Silver admitted [negative remarks from LeBron] struck a chord.
“It did,” he said. “I’ve had conversations with LeBron about the jerseys, and we agreed that we would park the issue until the end of the season. And that once the season is over, he expressed an interest in sitting down with me and Sal LaRocca (the NBA’s president of merchandising) and discussing his point of view.”
The fact that Silver would consider killing the jerseys at all appears to contradict Sal LaRocca, who told us personally that sleeves were inevitable. But when the league’s biggest and best star makes enough noise, the higher-ups have to listen.
Despite having suggested reversing course ourselves, Silver may be setting a dangerous precedent here. Less than a two months into the job and he’s talking about changing a very vital part of the league’s future mostly because of LeBron. Other players have complained, but LeBron is the one getting an audience with the commissioner to discuss his thoughts. Derek Fisher isn’t getting a meeting; neither is Kevin Durant or Chris Paul. This sounds like it could be LeBron’s call, and while he won’t also be fixing tanking or setting the league’s salary cap next year (“So, four-time MVPs are elegible for a yearly bonus of $100 million. Everyone cool with that?”), he shouldn’t be the one in charge of any major league decision.
Then again, no one likes these jerseys so we should probably be thanking LeBron rather than lambasting him. (I just don’t know how to turn off the hate…)
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