Adam Silver is all-in on the NBA’s play-in tournament.
Despite criticism from its biggest stars and team owners, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver would like to see the play-in tournament continue. The concept of the play-in — a mini-tournament was first introduced during the NBA bubble season and featured teams from both conferences ranked seventh to 10th, battle it out for the 7th and 8th playoff spots.
The format made its return during this pandemic shortened season due to the short off-season, much to the dismay of Dallas Maverick’s star Luka Dončić, who said, “I don’t see the point of [it],” and team owner Mark Cuban who said “It is an enormous mistake,” after initially being onboard with the idea. Just recently, the play-in tournament got its biggest thumbs down from LeBron James saying during a post-game interview, “Whoever came up with that s— needs to be fired.”
Ironically, Silver’s comments follow LeBron James and his Los Angeles Lakers taking on the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday (May 19) to determine who gets the 7th seed in the Western Conference, which turned out to be the most-watched NBA game on ESPN since 2019.
Speaking with ESPN Radio, Silver reaffirmed his commitment to the play-in tournament and expressed his hope that it would return.
“I haven’t made any secret that I want it to be around long term,” Silver said to ESPN while expressing that he has to convince some players and teams to get behind the potential permanent change fully.
“I understand the sentiment if I were a team — a seven-seed in particular — the notion after a long season, you could potentially play out of the playoffs.
“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.”
Silver also revealed there are still some players on the fence about the play-in tournament.
“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,” Silver stated.
“For example, if you were the seventh seed and you were a significant number of games ahead of the eighth seed, the notion that you could somehow lose two games and be out of the playoffs seems unfair.”
The NBA Commissioner also pointed out that despite how some players and owners feel about the play-in tournament, it did encourage teams to play through the regular season to secure a playoff spot.
“I think the play-in tournament had an impact … causing teams who frankly otherwise may have thrown in the towel some number of weeks back to fight for those last playoff spots,” Siver said.
The players may not all care about it, but the fans do, and in the end, that’s all that particular matters. The play-in tournament wraps up Friday night (May 21), with the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors battling it out for the 8th seed in the Western Conference Playoffs.
Photo: Kevin C. Cox / Getty