NBA commissioner Adam Silver says that teams across the league are moving away from classifying their highest-ranking executive as an "owner."
"I don't want to overreact to the term, because as I've said earlier, people end up twisting themselves into knots avoiding the use of the word," Silver said in a recent interview with TMZ. "We moved away from that term years ago at the league. We call our team owners 'governor' of the team and 'alternate governor.'
"I think it makes sense. … You'll find the word throughout memos over the past decade in the NBA. But I'm sensitive to it and I think teams are moving away from the term (and) will stick with using 'governor.'"
While many teams use terms like "governor," "chairman" and "CEO," a handful of teams — including the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets — still use the term "owner" in the staff directory of their official team media guides. The Philadelphia 76ers, meanwhile, list their executives as "managing partner" and "co-managing partner."
Silver said he's seen mixed reactions from players regarding the use of the term, which has received criticism over the years for having racial connotations.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver. (Photo: Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports)
"A few players have actually spoken out in saying the greatest thing that ever happened was when Michael Jordan was able to call himself an owner (of the Charlotte Hornets)," he said.
Silver also said "I completely respect" when players are against the term, including Warriors forward Draymond Green, who has spoken out about it on multiple occasions.
In 2017, Green had a back and forth with Mark Cuban, who's listed as "owner" on the Dallas Mavericks' media guide, after Green wrote on Instagram that "to be owned by someone just sets a bad precedent."
Cuban responded, telling ESPN that Green "owes the NBA an apology" for his comments.
"To try to create some connotation that owning equity in a company that you busted your ass for is the equivalent of ownership in terms of people, that's just wrong. That's just wrong in every which way.
"People who read that message and misinterpret it — make it seem like we don't do everything possible to help our players succeed and don't care about their families and don't care about their lives, like hopefully we do for all of our employees — that's just wrong."
Green, while speaking at Harvard University, responded to Cuban, saying that his intention was to "start a conversation that may need to be had.
"When you look at Mark Cuban, for instance, with the whole equity thing. We all can own equity and that's fine. But Mark Cuban will never know or understand how it feels for me, a young, black, African-American, to turn on the TV and see what happened in Charlottesville. He'll never have that feeling.
" … It's not to take a shot at the owners of these entities. It's more so trying to help spark change to help others that may be similar to me."
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