SBD/April 10, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA's Silver Addresses Raising Age Limit, Suggests Possible Subsidy For College Players

Silver says the NBA has discussed a small patch for jersey advertisements
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the topic of raising the league's age limit has "been on the burner" for a while. Silver appeared on "The Dan Patrick Show," and Patrick noted in Silver's short tenure, it "feels like there is a progressive attitude towards your approach here." Silver said of possibly raising the NBA age minimum, "There's nothing new that I'm talking about that (former NBA Commissioner David Stern) and I hadn't been talking about for years. For example, raising the minimum age from 19 to 20 was on the table in the last collective bargaining negotiation which was roughly two-and-a-half years ago and what happened when we got the deal done ... we made a decision with the then head of the union, Billy Hunter, that we would take a group of issues and in essence park them and say, 'Let's start playing and we'll return them to the negotiating table.'" Silver suggested the "only difference in my approach from David's is I've been talking more about the college game and while we think raising the age from 19 to 20 would be helpful to the NBA we think it would, of course, do a lot for college basketball as well." Silver: "One of the reasons we wanted to raise the age from 18 to 19 is we wanted to put our teams in a position where they were drafting less based on potential but more on having seen those top players play against top competition." Silver said the league "didn't get an outright 'no'" from the NBPA in the last negotiation over raising the limit. Silver: "They just said this is something that needs to be discussed further. I can't do it unilaterally as the NBA" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 4/9). ESPN's Tim Legler said he understands what Silver "is trying to do" regarding an increased age limit, but he said it is "just not going to happen." Legler: "The players union would never go for it" ("NBA Tonight,” ESPN2, 4/9).

COLLEGE CREDITS: Silver yesterday said that the NBA "might consider subsidizing athletes to make them feel better" about playing another year of college basketball if the age limit were raised. ESPN.com's Darren Rovell wrote the league is considering this step because Silver is "intent on keeping basketball players in college for another year." Silver said that he "was willing to work with the NCAA to give athletes a more fair deal." He added that he "could envision the league potentially contributing to make up the actual cost of attendance gap above what the players get for their scholarships and getting involved in a more complete insurance plan, which could include total disability insurance should an athlete return to school and injure himself so badly he could never play again." Rovell noted the NCAA currently "provides only a preferred loan rate to elite athletes whom it deems to be potential high draft picks" (ESPN.com, 4/9).

JERSEY GUY: Silver said, "When it comes to advertising on jerseys, I do think it's inevitable." He added, "To me, it's that much more of an opportunity for our sponsors to get closer to our game and to be closer to our athletes." Silver said the league has discussed "some sort of relatively small patch that would have an advertiser's logo, most likely not even their name." Silver: "We're looking at a bunch of different opportunities and some people said the reason we were looking at sleeves is that we'd have more real estate on the jerseys. That was never the case." He said of ads on the normal tank top NBA jersey, "Just in terms of the real estate and the aesthetic and the look, I think we'd be much more likely to be looking at a patch or something like that." Silver also addressed some of the players' complaints about the sleeved jerseys, saying, "I get that one, whether it's superstition or players just don't like it or they're sensitive to feeling sleeves when they're shooting. That's something we have to tread very carefully on, especially long-term, if there's any suggestion that it impacts the competition or the field of players" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 4/9).
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