Tuesday, September 29, 2015

You Go, Boy – Oh, and the Ladies, Too

Adam Silver, like me and many others, is both a fan and supporter of women’s basketball, most particularly of the WNBA.

[Pause while a fair segment of the fan base vents its disagreement.]

The need for that pause was created by a public commentary the NBA’s commissioner had recently offered. While praising the exceptional quality of the WNBA’s on-court product, Silver was very direct in his assessment of the business side of things. The growth of the league in popularity and toward self-sufficiency has not met expectations.

That’s not exactly breaking news.

Remember when the Los Angeles Sparks were temporarily and unexpectedly ownerless not so long ago. Dark cloud of doom and doubt hung over the very existence of the league – even in the writings of some of those thanklessly hard-working journalists Mechelle Voepel cited in her ESPN rebuttal to the Commissioner’s thoughts.

What in the ensuing 18 months or so, above and beyond the intervention of Earvin Johnson Enterprises to plug that particular hole in the dike, has made the league any less susceptible to demise at the fall of one significant domino?

A couple of sponsorships? Hardly.

Increased coverage on ESPN? I’m not biting on that until I can count on something like “WNBA Wednesday” every week of the season, even if it’s on ESPNU.

Any other progress?

There was a slight, though optional, increase in roster size with the adoption of the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Anything else I’m overlooking?

If not, then why is Silver getting harpooned and lampooned for speaking the truth? The best player in the league had been no less critical back in May.

He’s been chastised for “stealing the thunder” of the launch of Post-Season 2015 – was he supposed to wait until no one was listening?

Some are suggesting that he exposed his inexperience by just saying too much – or that he misread how his word choice would play in the media.

To all these or similar notions I cry, “Poppycock!”

We’re talking about a dude who was long mentored and hand-picked by a pretty smooth operator, the Dean of Sports Commissioners, if you will.

Adam Silver knew exactly what he was saying, where and when he was saying it, and how it would be received.

And you know what – given the steady support his league has given the WNBA since its inception, he had every right to say it.

The Silver-Voepel “debate” has shined some light on a good many dedicated folk who so diligently cover the league and the sport; it continues to induce productive discussion.

Good on Adam … Good for the League.

The irony of this whole pissin’ contest – Easy, there, easy; Kate Fagan legitimized that term for both genders on ATH this summer, so keep yer comments to yerself – might be that Silver’s clearest message was being delivered “between the lines.”

Little ol’ me can’t be the only one who heard the Boss put his WNBA counterpart on notice, can me?