New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday the league office is not worried about a downtown arena getting built in Sacramento.
Silver, who has been with the league for 22 years now, attended his first game as commissioner in Sacramento on Wednesday when the Kings took on the Toronto Raptors. The commissioner looked excited to be settling in to his new role, smiling from ear to ear as he made the rounds at Sleep Train Arena.
An entourage surrounded Silver the entire night. Kings owner Vivek Ranadive was the head of that entourage (Silver said he's been talking to Ranadive about a trip to Mumbai, India - Ranadive's home country).
"It is appropriate that commissioner 3.0 comes to franchise 3.0," Ranadive said. "He's going to be, I believe, one of the best leaders of any sports franchise and it's a huge honor to have my friend Adam here."
Silver had initially planned to tour the Downtown Plaza arena site earlier in the day, but weather forced a flight delay. He expects to take the tour on Thursday, however.
Below are some excerpts about the downtown arena from Silver's interview with the media at halftime.
Silver: I've never seen anything quite like it, I mean talk about, he [Ranadive] coined the phrase NBA 3.0 and this is arena 3.0. It's sort of an inside-outside architectural vision of Vivek's and his partners and, you know, everything appears to be on track and we remain excited and thrilled with the opportunity here.
Question: How worrisome is the political situation with the possibility of a vote later this year that could derail the funding?
Ranadive: We're going to be on schedule with this arena. I know they're called Stop, this is a go so it's going to be a go all the way.
Question: Do you concur Adam?
Silver: Yeah, no worries from the league office standpoint.
Question: How can you be so confident about the new arena getting built, given the political situation?
Silver: I'm so confident because I've known Kevin Johnson for over 20 years, I knew him as a player, I knew him as a broadcaster and obviously, I know him as a mayor now. I've sat in literally dozens of meetings with lawyers, political advisers, political leaders both from Sacramento and from California and talking to Vivek and his partners that I'm absolutely confident it's going to get done.
Question: How much input have you or the NBA had into this process?
Silver: We've had a lot of input from the beginning, I mean you guys know David Stern made this a priority for the league over the last several years so we have been very involved. I've been right there with David on, you know, most of the trips. I've sat in all of the meetings in New York and Vivek and I have been in regular touch since he bought the franchise.
Question: Can you talk about any specifics with the arena drawings that you can kind of describe in detail that impressed you?
Silver: I think most importantly, the sort of the grandness of the opening. It's what Vivek calls the sort of the indoor-outdoor look where they create a large concourse in the front and you get that sense that even when you are on the outside, it's sort of you're all part of what the event is happening inside the arena and I think the architectural vision as well, I mean I don't have the drawings in front of me but it's beautiful renderings as well. So it's, I mean I think it's very representative of, you know, the values of the game as expressed by Vivek and his partners.
Question: Is it possible you could get an NBA All Star event down here [Sacramento] in a few years?
Silver: Well, first you gotta build the building, but no question about it we'd love to come to Sacramento with an All-Star game.
Question: You had planned on going to Downtown Plaza, but the weather forced that not to happen, are you still planning to do that maybe tomorrow?
Silver: We are still going to do it, we're just working out the details right now. But I am not going to leave town without going to the Downtown Plaza.
Question: It has been reported that you delivered the key message to the owners about keeping the Kings during those [NBA Board of Governors] meetings, what did you say to them and what did you want to get across?
Silver: I think those meetings have always been confidential. I would just say that I've been a supporter and a strong supporter of keeping the Kings in Sacramento.
And one last quote: "This is where the team should be."
- Silver is not ready to name the injury replacement yet on the Western Conference All Star team. It will ultimately be his decision, but he will make the decision based on a recommendation. So no answer on DeMarcus Cousins yet. But Cousins did lobby in the first quarter of the game.
- A TV deal is a top business priority for him. The league still has two more years on its current deal. Silver called the current partnerships with ABC, ESPN, TNT and Turner Sports great. "I'd love to stay with those partners, but we'll see."
- He said he will focus on the relationship with the college game and the relationship of amateur basketball to the college game.
- "We should be a rival of the NFL." - Adam Silver
- His said his phone has been ringing off the hook, but he highlighted the support he has been getting from the owners, players and business partners of the league. He also said he has talked to Bud Selig, Roger Goodell and Gary Bettman.