Why the NBA should be hailed for its transparency

Throughout the last few years, more and more big corporations, businesses, and organizations have seemingly found themselves amidst a series of scandals or controversies.

From Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica to Google’s attempt at launching a censored search engine called “Dragonfly” in China and Elon Musk’s “funding secured” tweet that cause the SEC to conduct a probe on Tesla, transparency, whether or not it’s explicitly stated, has been at the forefront of many debates.

Despite this, the NBA has not only managed to stay away from such scandals and controversies, but is actually a shining example of how transparency, even if it’s negative towards one’s own affiliation, can actually help to reinforce, if not bolster a brand. That’s not to say, however, that this will work every time and with every brand, nor that it won’t hurt them to some degree, but with access to so much information and tools, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to hide secrets from both the consumers and the public.

In order to address the issue of transparency over his tenure as commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver has implemented initiatives such as the “last two minutes” reports (L2M) to attempting creating a much more open dialogue between players and officials and having officials directly interact with pool reporters. That’s not all though, as he recently made an appearance at the 42 Analytics conference where he was interviewed by Bill Simmons, a former ESPN employee and founder of “The Ringer,” a sports network that heavily focuses on the NBA.

In his interview with Bill Simmons, Adam Silver goes on to address the numerous challenges he’s faced as an NBA commissioner. Here, he elaborates on the league and owners wanted shorter contracts while players wanted longer contracts during the last Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), how many players now, especially young guys, are “generally unhappy” due to constant media attention and scrutiny, how the expansion of the league has actually hurt them in some ways, the traditional dichotomy between small and big market teams in relation to luxury tax penalties and endorsement opportunities, how revamping the lottery system hasn’t really fixed the “tanking” issue, the fact that the league’s viewership is down seemingly in part due to $24B TV deal the NBA agreed to in 2014 and more.

Many individuals in leadership positions would have a hard time admitting that their employees are miserable, let alone delve into the myriad of other issues, yet Adam Silver did just that. And in doing so, while it may seem like “bad business” for the NBA, the league was actually praised for this move.

That being said, I think we can all learn from Adam Silver’s leadership in regards to transparency not only as it relates to the NBA and businesses, but in life in general. With the explosion of social media over the last decade allowing individuals to portray an “idealized” version of themselves which has in turn created a heightened bubble of sensitivity, being genuine and open with not only ourselves, but others is seemingly becoming more and more difficult.

It’s important then, to always challenge yourself and try to be true to what you believe in because life is short, so why would you want to spend it being unhappy?


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