On Friday, the Associated Press released a story on an interview they recently had with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver before next week’s All-Star Game. In the interview, he went over the league’s decision to hold a game and also on possible future plans on expansion.
When asked why the All-Star Game should be held despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Silver replied that fan interest was why, citing that the number of fans voting this year nearly matched last year’s. He also noted that the NBA’s global strength won’t take away from the fan experience of the game. Here is his quote on that specifically.
It’s a global community on social media, representing close to 1.9 billion people who are engaged with us. There fact that there won’t be the traditional receptions and parties and fan events — and we’ll sadly miss them — it won’t change the experience for the largest portion of our fans.”
Of course, economic factors were the second reason why a game is behind held. The coronavirus pandemic isn’t just a health issue. It’s an economic issue that caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs since last March.
I agree with Silver that the fans are the most important part of All-Star Weekend. But I also think that fans knew they were voting on teams that may not play at all because of the pandemic. Naming All-Stars without a game to show for it isn’t the end of the world given the circumstances, but that’s just me.
Silver also talked briefly about the future of the NBA where he believed that league expansion “inevitable.” There is no specific timetable on when to add teams. To be clear, he stressed that “it would not be appropriate to expand right now, given where our focus is on trying to work through this season.” Still, this is big news nevertheless.
One reason why the NBA may be open to expansion is to expand into additional markets in the United States (A return to Seattle? St. Louis?) and Canada (Bonjour Montreal? Or a return to Vancouver?) where some cities could feasibly support a team. Though not mentioned in the article, another could be to generate additional revenue in the form of expansion fees. There are markets outside of the Americas like Europe which the late David Stern was interested in.
It will be interesting to see which cities may be interested in an NBA team once we get past this pandemic. Until then, mask up, social distance in public and take the vaccine when it’s your turn.