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Adam Silver on the Exciting, Innovative Future of the NBA

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Silver sat down with strategy+business magazine amidst the excitement of the NBA Playoffs to reflect on where the league stands.

NBA: Playoffs-Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Playoffs are in full swing, with basketball dominating the sports conversation as stars like LeBron James and Stephen Curry take center stage. In a wide-ranging interview with strategy+business magazine, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver discussed fan engagement, fan experience and worldwide growth of the league.

NBA games are available in more markets and across more patforms than ever before. As the guiding hand behind the most popular basketball league in the world, how does Adam Silver prepare for the future while delivering a product people are excited about now?

Silver starts by describing the unique proximity of fans to the players and game:

There’s no other sport like it where fans who sit courtside can even come into physical contact with the players. The players are used to that sort of proximity. And we’ve successfully begun to translate that to social media. The challenge for us is replicating that courtside seat for people who will never set foot in an arena.

He emphasizes the importance of the global market and shares ideas about how the NBA might make it easier to watch live games in other parts of the world:

As the popularity of our game grows outside the United States, in order to reach more viewers it may make sense to start playing at different times. I could see each team once a month playing an afternoon game, for example, when it’s prime time in Europe, or potentially playing a weekend morning game so we are in prime time in Asia.

Additionally, the commissioner discusses why it is important for the NBA to embrace new technologies and experiment with new platforms:

One of our strategies has been to embrace experimentation with all these different platforms. Whether it is Facebook or Twitter or YouTube, we’ve told them: We have a lot of content; let’s try new things. . . .Also, these over-the-top platforms aren’t just thinking about taking the conventional productions that you see on cable and satellite and repositioning those streams on the platforms. They’re instead thinking about what advantages their technology offers, and how they can find new and better ways to present the games that lead to potentially even more engagement from the fans.

There is a lot more in the interview including why players are encouraged to express their views and what the NBA is learning about the potential of legalized gambling and the influence of the gaming industry. Plenty of things to mull over in the offseason.

— Tara | @tcbbiggs