SALT LAKE CITY — Adam Silver has been the NBA commissioner for almost nine months, but he had never made a visit to Utah in his new position until Wednesday night.
Silver joked that he chose to come on opening night Wednesday to honor fellow Duke alum Quin Snyder as he made his debut as Jazz coach for the Utah-Houston game at EnergySolutions Arena.
“It’s just a coincidence that Quin Snyder went to Duke as I did, and I’m here for his first game,’’ Silver said.
The 52-year-old commissioner received a warm welcome when his face was shown on the large screens above the court late in the second quarter. Before the game, he spoke to the press about a variety of subjects, including the global reach of the league, the upcoming TV contract, possible overseas expansion, and the issue of NBA game lengths.
After being introduced by Jazz CEO Greg Miller, Silver praised the Jazz franchise, comparing it favorably to the San Antonio Spurs. He appeared in San Antonio the night before to hand out championship rings to the Spurs.
“I see a lot of similarities, frankly, between the two organizations,’’ said Silver, noting the strong ownership and management and the number of international players on each team. "The Jazz are a first-class organization.''
Silver said any disadvantage for small-market teams is becoming less of an issue as the league becomes a global business. He also said the new influx of money in two years when new TV contracts take effect will level the playing field between franchises even more.
“It’s especially important for so-called small markets, but what we’re seeing in the league is that those distinctions are becoming much less important,’’ Silver said. “It’s because of a number of factors — the national and international revenue is being divided equally, enabling every team to compete.
Silver used word “global” several times in his remarks and said, while there aren’t “imminent” plans for any expansion in the league, he could see the league playing in Europe someday.
“I definitely can imagine a time where we do seriously consider expanding overseas, particularly in Europe,’’ he said. “(The length of that trip) is doable from the east coast to Europe. But the arena infrastructure in Europe is not quite there yet. It’s something we’ll continue to look at.’’
The league recently experimented with a 44-minute game rather than the normal 48-minute length, but Silver emphasized the NBA isn’t changing anytime soon.
“We did it more to focus everyone in the league on the issue of pace and length of game,’’ he said. “We have a 2 1/2-hour television window and we think that’s the right length, but sometimes we creep longer. It’s highly unlikely that we’ll change the length of the game, but we will look at our commercial formats and other timeout formats.’’
Silver said the best part of his job is visiting different arenas around the league, meeting with management and interacting with the fans. After being in San Antonio the night before, Silver will in Los Angeles Thursday night for the debut of Los Angeles Clipper owner Steve Ballmer.
All in all, Silver is pleased with the direction of the NBA.
“That’s what I want to run, is a 30-team league where every team in every market has the opportunity to run a sound, financially stable business and compete for championships and that’s what we’re seeing.’’