NBA commissioner Adam Silver defends 65-game rule for awards, 'pleased with state' of play

INDIANAPOLIS — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver defended the league's rule that players must compete in 65 games to be eligible for prestigious and sometimes lucrative prizes.

“I'm not ready to say it's not working yet,” Silver said Saturday during his annual All-Star Weekend news conference. “I can tell you that the number of games played in players has gone up this season and interestingly, injuries have actually gone down.

“Whether this is meaningful data yet, I don't know. I think the time to take another look at this rule is at the end of the season when we have at least a year under our belt.

This is the first NBA season in which players can miss only 17 games and still be eligible for awards such as Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, or selection to All-NBA teams. Reigning MVP Joel Embiid is already ineligible to win the award this season due to several minor injuries, followed by surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

Tyrese Haliburton, an All-Star on his hometown team this year, is struggling through a nagging hamstring injury to stay on the court long enough to make an All-NBA team, which would raise his contract with the Indiana Pacers from $205 million to $245 million. .

Silver said on Saturday that the 65-game rule, which was approved by the players' union, was put in place because “we needed to motivate the players, especially the stars, to play more games.”

This season, 16 of the NBA's top 20 scorers (essentially top players), and 35 of the top 50 players, had appeared in at least 45 games by the All-Star break, a much higher number than last season.

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According to a league official, there has been a 25 percent decrease in the number of games star players missed due to injury this season compared to last season. There was an 18 percent reduction in the number of games missed due to injury among all starters.

Silver, who made his remarks in the Indianapolis Colts' locker room inside Lucas Oil Stadium, the site of the All-Star festivities on Saturday night, said he was “pleased with the state” of the NBA game, referring to the historic levels witnessed by the All-Star Game. Matches are scored every night.

The league's top-rated offense, which belongs to the Pacers, is averaging nearly 124 points per game, and the league is averaging 115.6 points per game — the most since 1970. Over the past two seasons, four players have scored 70 points In one match. Game.

“I want to dispel any notion that the league feels, or the league office necessarily feels, that high-scoring games are actually good,” Silver said. “I think what we want is competitive matches. … The skill level is off the charts.

“Every player at every position has to be able to shoot the ball. … You're seeing this world class group of talent coming into the league (with) some of the best athletes in the world who can honestly turn out the lights. I think that's partly responsible for the increased scoring.”

Silver talks about players' problems with referees

Silver also addressed the increasingly controversial relationship between league players and coaches with referees.

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Explosive incidents have been frequent this season, but none drew more attention than when two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, who is from Serbia, was ejected in the second quarter in Chicago on Serbian Heritage Night on Dec. 12. League sources later confirmed. That the Denver Nuggets star was ejected for calling official Moussa Dagher a “mother——,” but the difficult optics of it all sparked another round of debate about how the game should be called.

“It comes down to communication issues between players and officials — I feel like that's an area where we should be able to do a better job in both directions,” Silver said. “I put that in the category of respect for the game, like I said.”

“I'm really encouraged to have (new National Basketball Players Association CEO) Andre Iguodala as a partner to talk about these issues because he's not just a former player, (played) 19 years with the league, (won) multiple championships.” “He understands the pressure,” Silver continued. “He understands this issue.

“I think there's a real desire among officials as well to do better. I think that's a real focus area for us that we'll work on. … There has to be a two-way sense of respect. I sympathize with the frustration and feel it's an area where we can make progress.”

The future of G League Ignite

Silver also said the NBA is “in the process of re-evaluating” the G League Ignite franchise, a minor league team the league created for teens coming out of high school who don't want to play in college. After a successful first season, the Ignite program has declined over the past two seasons, as new college rules have allowed athletes to get paid while playing for their schools.

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Silver said his focus now is on the early development of American players, noting that 30 percent of NBA players come from outside the United States.

“Obviously the development is very different in a lot of these programs outside the U.S., where the focus is more on practice and less focused on games, which seems to be the opposite of a lot of youth programs in the U.S.,” Silver said. . “We've begun discussions with the NCAA. … There's no doubt that (top American players) come into the league with incredible skills, but that doesn't necessarily translate to them becoming collegiate basketball players.

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