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Adam Silver on NBA's parity: 'Competition is great for the league'

Adam Silver on NBA's parity: 'Competition is great for the league'

Prior to Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Finals in Denver, NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed the media and discussed a wide variety of topics. The first question he was asked was about the NBA's increased parity this season.

In past years, a certain NBA Finals match-up has seemed inevitable (like when the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors faced off four years in a row). This season, that wasn't the case. 

Entering the 2023 NBA Playoffs, there were quite a few teams that were considered legitimate contenders. Then, the eighth-seeded Miami Heat emerged from the Play-In Tournament and made an NBA Finals run, serving as a great example of the league's parity. 

"I like to think every team in this league has a shot to compete for a championship," Silver told reporters. "We saw this season in particular, it was a record with roughly just a little over a week left in the season, you had 26 teams still competing for the playoffs. ... I think there's enormous benefit [to parity and unpredictability]. I get the question asked too, sort of the converse of that question is: are dynasties good for the league? My ultimate view is competition is great for the league, and if as a result dynasties are made, I think that's great too. So, I'm not against seeing repeat championships.

"On the other hand, whoever wins this year it'll be the fifth consecutive year where we have a new team winning a championship. When you think about a 30-team league, and it's not just the fans in those markets but fans increasingly all over the world who follow a team in that particular market maybe because they have an affinity for that style of play or a particular player on that team or some created connection to that city, you want a league where everyone feels that if the team that they are rooting for is well-managed and gets a little bit lucky too – that's necessary – that they can truly compete for championships.

"I think this increased parity we're seeing around the league is fantastic. It's part by design too. Through successive Collective Bargaining Agreements and the one we just negotiated, there's some new provisions in that one as well that we hope will help even the playing field to a certain extent. It's important to point out as well that we only can make those changes with the partnership and cooperation of the players. We sit down with them. In a way, they're not that different than fans. You have the greatest players in the world coming together on 30 different teams. They want to compete too. At the end of the day, they want a level playing field.

"They, of course, also want the opportunity to become free agents and the opportunity to potentially move to a different market depending on the circumstances. But we both have the same interest at the end of the day. ... It's changes in the CBA [that led to increased parity], which I think have been effective to a certain degree, but also there's societal changes because of social media and the amount of distribution that in terms of players being able to get the recognition, I think it's less important as it was in the old days to be in particular markets.

"We're seeing that; Nikola Jokic, clearly a global superstar, two-time MVP playing here in Denver. And because of the success Miami has had, sometimes people think of it, frankly, as a larger market than it actually is. I'm pleased with it. I recognize that there's a bit of randomness to it too, but we're seeing a really, I think, positive trend line in terms of competition."

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