In an era where excess and self-indulgence often trump substance across the professional sports landscape, last week’s NBA All-Star Weekend, held here in New York City, illuminated the depth and reach the league has on producing a positive impact across a broad socio-economic spectrum.
Commissioner Adam Silver has been outstanding in continuing to grow the brand and setting a vision for the league’s future in the roughly one year since taking over the league’s leadership reigns from David Stern, whose remarkably successful 30-year tenure as commissioner was arguably unmatched in the annals of professional sports in North America.
“I love where our game is right now,” Silver gushed at his second State of the League address last Saturday night.
The plethora of events provided young and old, the privileged and disadvantaged, access to the game’s current stars, as well as its legends, in a celebration of basketball’s rich, culturally diverse history. The uniquely influential body that is the NBA more than showcased a global entertainment behemoth, it capitalized on the opportunity to address topics that are significant in this country’s societal fabric and has expanded far beyond our borders.
From the insightful youth summit held at Canaan Baptist Church in Harlem, attended by hundreds of public school students, focusing on critical issues such as fatherlessness and the school-to-prison pipeline permeating Black and Latino communities, to the 16th annual NBA All-Star Technology Summit—which featured compelling discussions on how technology is profoundly changing the culture of sports, notably its economics and fan and media engagement—the league reaffirmed its standing as the most progressive and inclusive global sports entity.