NBA commissioner Adam Silver has defended his decision to not impose a lifetime ban on Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver following the outcome of an independent investigation into his tenure with the franchise.

The scathing 43-page report found Sarver was known to make a number of inappropriate comments to women in the workplace – including discussing oral sex at a business meeting as recently as 2021 – as well as repeating the n-word on five occasions in situations he claimed he was "recounting the statements of others".

There is precedent for forcing an owner to sell his team, with former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling receiving a lifetime ban from the league in 2014 – barring him from owning a team, entering the Clippers facility, and ever attending an NBA game.

Instead, Sarver was issued with a $10million fine and one-year suspension, in a ruling that caused superstar LeBron James to come out and tweet "our league definitely got this wrong".

But when addressing the media following Wednesday's meeting with the Board of Governors, Silver said they were very different situations, and that Sarver's comments were "wholly of a different kind than we saw in the [Sterling] case".

That outlook comes from the authors of the investigative report concluding that Sarver's behaviour was not the result of "racial or gender-based animus", giving him the benefit of the doubt with what they describe as his "sophomoric" sense of humour and desire to provoke.

"I think all of us would want to be judged by the totality of all we’ve done, good and bad," Silver said. 

"His track record of hiring, his track record of support for particular employees. There were many, many people who had very positive things to say about him. I took all of that into account."

Silver repeatedly defended the 60-year-old real estate developer, saying he had taken "complete accountability and seemed fully remorseful" during a recent conversation, and asserting that he had done "many very positive things" during his time as owner of the Suns.

When asked why Sarver should be allowed to retain ownership of the team when any other employee would surely be fired, Silver highlighted the difficult process of actually removing an owner, and implied that the hit to Sarver's reputation is a punishment in itself.

"There are particular rights here for people who own an NBA team," he said.

"There’s no neat answer here. Owning property, the rights that come with owning a team, how that’s set up within our constitution… is different than holding a job. It just is, when you own a team. It’s just a very different proposition.

"The consequences are severe here for Mr. Sarver, reputationally. It’s hard to even make those comparisons to somebody who commits an inappropriate act in the workplace in an anonymous fashion, compared to what is a huge public issue.

"In terms of future behaviour, he’s on notice. He knows that."

In a statement on Tuesday, Sarver said he disagrees "with some of the particulars of the NBA's report".

NBA commissioner Adam Silver hailed Bill Russell as "the greatest champion in all of team sports" as he paid tribute to the basketball great, who died on Sunday.

Russell's family confirmed the 11-time NBA champion had passed away "peacefully" at the age of 88.

He was the first black head coach of any North American professional sports team, leading the Boston Celtics to back-to-back NBA Championships in 1968 and 1969.

Russell was an All-Star on 12 occasions, a five-time NBA MVP and is one of only four players to have been named to all four NBA anniversary teams (25th, 35th, 50th and 75th).

Away from the court, Russell championed the civil rights movement and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 by Barack Obama.

"Bill Russell was the greatest champion in all of team sports," Silver wrote.

"The countless accolades that he earned for his storied career with the Boston Celtics – including a record 11 championships and five MVP awards – only begin to tell the story of Bill's immense impact on our league and broader society.

"Bill stood for something much bigger than sports: the values of equality, respect and inclusion that he stamped into the DNA of our league.

"At the height of his athletic career, Bill advocated vigorously for civil rights and social justice, a legacy he passed down to generations of NBA players who followed in his footsteps.

"Through the taunts, threats and unthinkable adversity, Bill rose above it all and remained true to his belief that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity.

"For nearly 35 years since Bill completed his trailblazing career as the league's first black head coach, we were fortunate to see him at every major NBA event, including the NBA Finals, where he presented the Bill Russell Trophy to the Finals MVP.

"I cherished my friendship with Bill and was thrilled when he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I often called him basketball's Babe Ruth for how he transcended time.

"Bill was the ultimate winner and consummate team-mate, and his influence on the NBA will be felt forever. We send our deepest condolences to his wife, Jeannine, his family and his many friends."

The NBA board of governors is expected to vote this week to make the play-in tournament permanent going forward, as well as a rule change to eliminate the 'take foul' in transition.

Governors will meet on Tuesday with the expectation that the play-in tournament – which was first implemented in the 2020-21 season, giving two extra teams in each conference a chance at qualifying for the playoffs – is a near sure-thing to be adopted permanently.

According to ESPN's report, the feeling around the league is that the play-in tournament and flattened odds in the draft lottery – giving less incentive to finish with the worst record in the league – have gone a long way in curtailing the ugly 'tanking' generally seen in the final six weeks of a season.

The 'take foul' has been a hot topic over the past season as players routinely decided to intentionally foul a ball-handler to prevent a fast-break opportunity, limiting the amount of exciting break-away dunks and shows of athleticism in every game.

As is the case in European basketball and international FIBA rules, that play is expected to be reclassified as an unsportsmanlike foul, resulting in one free throw and possession remaining with the offensive team.

While those two changes are likely to go through without much opposition, another recurring topic from commissioner Adam Silver will be discussed: an in-season tournament.

Silver has been vocal over the past few years about his desire to have mid-season competition in the same vein as cup competitions in European football, giving the teams something else to compete for and to add excitement to the regular season.

It was initially going to be rolled out at the same time as the play-in tournament, but it was met with stiff resistance and put on the backburner.

Original discussions proposed a $1million prize to each member of the winning team, although ESPN's latest report says "the players would likely see more financial and competitive incentives before an agreement on the format might be reached".

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver revealed the league was exploring alterations to the rules on All-NBA team selections.

The NBA's tactical transformation since the implementation of the defensive three-second rule has created a recruiting need for skill over true size, translating into a more fluid style of basketball.

Meanwhile, with Joel Embiid finishing second in MVP voting but missing out on All-NBA First Team selection, due to both being centers.

In his annual news conference before the start of the NBA Finals, Silver said the league was looking at adapting to transforming circumstances.

"I think we're a league that has moved increasingly towards positionless basketball," Silver said Thursday in San Francisco, in his annual press conference at the start of the NBA Finals. "The current system may result in some inequities just based on the happenstance of what your position is.

"It's something that we will discuss with the players' association because it has an impact on incentives in players’ contracts."

The NBA allowed 100 media members to vote for Jokic or Embiid as forwards, but it failed to remedy given neither could be considered as such in the traditional sense.

The passing of Hall of Fame center Bob Lanier prompted tributes from the Detroit Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.

Eight-time All-Star Lanier died on Tuesday following a short illness, the NBA said.

Commissioner Adam Silver described the popular former player, who was 73, as "among the most talented centers in the history of the NBA" but added: "His impact on the league went far beyond what he accomplished on the court."

After retiring on the Bucks in 1984 and briefly serving as a coach at the Golden State Warriors in the 1990s, Lanier was an NBA ambassador and a special assistant to both David Stern and Silver.

"I learned so much from Bob by simply watching how he connected with people," Silver said. "He was a close friend who I will miss dearly, as will so many of his colleagues across the NBA who were inspired by his generosity."

Lanier had his number 16 jersey retired by both the Pistons, where he spent nine and a half seasons, and the Bucks, finishing his career with four and a half years in Milwaukee.

He ranks third all-time for both points (15,488) and rebounds (8,063) as a Piston.

A Pistons statement read: "The Detroit Pistons organisation is deeply saddened by the passing of Bob Lanier, a true legend who meant so much to the city of Detroit and to generations of Pistons fans.

"As fierce and as dominant as Bob was on the court, he was equally kind and impactful in the community.

"As an ambassador for both the Pistons organisation and the NBA, he represented our league, our franchise and our fans with great passion and integrity."

The Bucks said: "Bob Lanier was an all-time great Milwaukee Buck and a Hall of Famer, whose retired number 16 hangs in the rafters at Fiserv Forum.

"In his five seasons in Milwaukee (1980-84), Bob led the Bucks to division titles each year and to two Eastern Conference Finals appearances in 1983 and 1984.

"But even more than his basketball success, which included his being an All-Star in 1982, Bob was one of the most popular players with Bucks fans and known throughout the community for his generosity and kindness.

"We send our deepest condolences to Bob's family and friends."

Adam Silver is concerned by what he sees as "a trend" of the NBA's best players spending too much time on the sideline.

NBA commissioner Silver was speaking at a news conference following a two-day meeting with the league's board of governors.

Last year's NBA MVP Nikola Jokic was one of 11 players to play every game in the shortened 72-game 2020-21 regular season.

But only five players are on course to complete the full 82 games this year – and none of them could be considered superstars.

While Jokic has still played a good number in 73, MVP rivals Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo have been limited to 66 and 65 games respectively.

Stephen Curry has played in 64, Luka Doncic and James Harden in 63, LeBron James in 56, Kevin Durant in 53 and Kyrie Irving, chiefly due to the vaccine protocol that was in place in New York for much of the season, in 27.

Harden (37.2 minutes), James (also 37.2), Irving (37.5) and Durant (37.1) have at least seen plenty of time on the floor when they have been available, although the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers have spent much of the season hovering around the play-in line.

While Silver acknowledged injuries were a factor, he suggested this sort of motivation was key to seeing the best of the league's stars.

Antetokounmpo (32.9 this year) has long played limited minutes in the regular season, while Kawhi Leonard – prior to the injury that has kept him out of this season – was allowed regular periods of rest with the Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Clippers in order to prepare for the playoffs.

"The greater concern to me is a trend of star players not participating in a full complement of games," Silver said.

"I think that's something we, together with the Players Association, need to address. I'm not standing here saying I have a great solution.

"Part of the issue is injuries. One of the things we have focused on at the league office and we had begun to spend a lot of time on pre-pandemic [is]: are there things we can do in terms of sharing information, resources around the league to improve best practices, rehabilitation?

"The other way we can get at it, in terms of player participation, is creating other incentives.

"The play-in tournament, I thought, was a beginning of creating renewed incentives for teams to remain competitive and be fighting for playoff position. It might be through in-season tournaments and changes in format where we can get at it."

NBA commissioner Adam Silver says the league has no plans to pause its season despite the recent surge in COVID-19 cases across teams.

The league has been forced to postpone a total of five games, including three that were set to be played on Sunday, due to rising COVID-19 cases.

The National Hockey League announced on Monday it would take its Christmas break early amid similar challenges but Silver said the NBA did not have those plans.

"No plans right now to pause the season," Silver told NBA Today. "We have of course looked at all the options, but frankly we are having trouble coming up with what the logic would be behind pausing right now.

"As we look through these cases literally ripping through the country, let alone the rest of the world, I think we're finding ourselves where we sort of knew we were going to get to over the past several months, and that is this virus will not be eradicated, and we're going to have to learn to live with it. I think that's what we're experiencing in the league right now."

Numerous big names in the NBA have been forced into the league's health and safety protocols due to COVID-19 lately including Kevin Durant, James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The NBA had sent a memo to teams on Sunday announcing new rules permitting replacement players who can be added upon losing players to protocols.

However, Silver said the league would not waver just yet on the requirements for protocols, with players who test positive needing to sit out for 10 days or until they get two negative PCR tests taken more than 24 hours apart.

"That's something, again, that it's not just our doctors but the medical community is looking at," he said. "I think they're already realising that you can move away from the 10-day protocol when you have players who are vaccinated and boosted.

"It seems the virus runs through their systems faster. They become not just asymptomatic but, more importantly, they're not shedding the virus anymore. That's the real concern in terms of others. And so we are actively looking at shortening the number of days players are out before they can return to the floor."

On the integrity of clubs experiencing outbreaks being forced to play on and hurriedly sign replacement players, Silver added: "I think there's a recognition that these are the cards that we've been dealt.

"Of course there's an amount of unfairness that comes with playing in certain cases with some teams where particular players are out because of COVID protocols, but the other advantage is we do have an 82-game season and we do have a long playoffs, and my sense is things will work out by the end of the season."

The play-in tournament may be here to stay with NBA commissioner Adam Silver stating that his personal preference is for it to continue beyond this season.

Teams ranked seventh to 10th in both the Western and Eastern Conference have faced off in the play-in tournament for the seventh and eighth seeds in the 2020-21 season.

The additional spots available for the playoffs added intrigue late in the NBA season, with 24 of the 30 franchises maintaining the possibility of playing in the postseason in the final fortnight.

The play-in tournament has been criticized for being unfair, with Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James publicly vocal in his dislike of the concept.

"Whoever came up with that needs to be fired," James said earlier this month.

But Silver defended the play-in tournament, insisting it added vital viewership interest to the season, given the incentives for teams to compete.

"I haven't made any secret that I want it to be [around long term]," Silver told ESPN Radio.

"I have two constituencies I need to convince of that. One is the 30 teams, and I think for the most part they've supported it. I understand the sentiment if I were a team - a seven-seed in particular - the notion [that] after a long season, you could potentially play out of the playoffs. I understand those feelings.

"I think at the same time, the teams recognize the amount of additional interest we've created over the last month of the season plus those play-in games make it worth it.

"Of course, the other constituency is the players. For example, one player, who is on the executive committee of the union, said to me yesterday that he really likes the play-in tournament but he felt it could potentially be a bit unfair.

"For example, if you were the seventh seed and you were a significant number of games ahead of the eight-seed, the notion that you could somehow lose two games and be out of the playoffs seems unfair."

The sides who finished seventh in both conferences won their play-in games to claim seventh seed, while the Washington Wizards eventually took the eighth seed in the East with victory over the Indiana Pacers after finishing eighth.

The Golden State Warriors, who finished eighth on the Western Conference standings, play the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth seed in the last play-in game on Friday.

Silver said it is possible that the league will tinker with the current play-in format.

He added: "I'm going to wait only because I know there's people on both sides of it.

"Beyond the individual ratings, and some games have been pretty good and some haven't been as close, but putting aside those games and adding those games to our schedule and the amount of interest in them is where I think the play-in tournament had an impact.

"[It] was causing teams who frankly otherwise may have thrown in the towel some number of weeks back to fight for those last playoff spots."

Athletes expressed relief and vowed to continue the fight for reforms after a jury in Minnesota found a former police officer guilty in the May 2020 death of George Floyd. 

Derek Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on Tuesday, nearly 11 months after he knelt on Floyd's neck and back for more than nine minutes during an arrest. 

Floyd's death aged 46 sparked outrage across the United States, with athletes across multiple sports among those who called for justice. 

Tuesday's verdict in Minneapolis provided a measure of progress and sports figures, teams and leagues spoke out after the ruling. 

Basketball star LeBron James' reaction was among the most succinct as he tweeted simply: "ACCOUNTABILITY".

Boxing legend Mike Tyson tweeted: "Guilty. Justice served."

While similiar expressions of relief were common, most continued to lament the crime that sparked the case. 

"George Floyd lost his life, as many others have, unjustly. We can't forget that - that people are losing their lives," Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash told reporters.

"On the other hand, it is a small gesture of justice and possibly hope for the future in that perhaps all the social justice movements - the NBA, the WNBA, the community at large - are really making an impact.

"I just hope that this is the type of statement by our justice system that gives hope and precedence for these type of verdicts to be the norm."

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