Jones: NBA's Adam Silver takes charge again in Knick of time

Who is the best commissioner in all of sports?6 Days Ago3 Weeks Ago2 Weeks AgoIt's not even close. Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA.Silver brilliantly executed his skillful leadership abilities in the past several days when the New York Knicks became...

Jones: NBA's Adam Silver takes charge again in Knick of time

Who is the best commissioner in all of sports?

6 Days Ago

3 Weeks Ago

2 Weeks Ago

It's not even close. Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA.

Silver brilliantly executed his skillful leadership abilities in the past several days when the New York Knicks became an episode of the Jerry Springer Show.

By now, you've seen the hideous highlight of former Knicks great Charles Oakley and the security staff of Madison Square Garden turning the World's Most Famous Arena into the NBA's version of the Royal Rumble. Pushing, shoving, finger-pointing, trash-talking. I kept waiting for Patrick Ewing to come off the top turnbuckle with a foreign object.

Just two rows away, Knicks owner James Dolan, the target of Oakley's hostility, looked on quietly as the scene — just like his basketball team — went up in flames. It was a bizarre moment that would have been funny if it hadn't been so embarrassing. Embarrassing for everyone — Dolan, Oakley, the Knicks.

And the NBA.

Instead of celebrating the greatness of LeBron or the consistency of the Spurs or the delicious rivalry between Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City, most of the NBA talk last week was about a feud between the inept owner of the Knicks and a 53-year-old who hasn't suited up in an NBA game since 2004. And I'm still not sure what the feud was over. All I do know is that it was ugly.

What did Silver do? He got involved.

He brokered a meeting between Dolan and Oakley. He got NBA royalty, Michael Jordan, who is both an owner (like Dolan) and a former player (like Oakley), to call in and lend a reasonable voice. Though there still appears to be a ways to go before Dolan and Oakley kiss at center court like Isiah and Magic, Silver made his point:

He's not going to have one of the NBA's marquee teams soiling the league's reputation over something so completely silly. Or over anything, for that matter.

It's just the latest example of Silver moving swiftly to make sure the NBA stays on the right path to success by avoiding the detours of knuckleheaded behavior.

The best example of that in his four-year tenure as commish is booting former Clippers owner Donald Sterling out of the league for alleged racist remarks. Sterling was a nightmare for the league, and if Silver never does another thing, his tenure will have been successful for ridding the NBA of Sterling, quite possibly the worst owner in American sports history.

These are clear examples of why Silver is the best sports commissioner going.

Then again, his competition isn't exactly a Mount Rushmore of sports brainiacs.

Let's start with the NFL's Roger Goodell, the Grand Nincompoop of sports bosses.

Goodell was hesitant to move on the dangerous relationship between football, concussions and long-term effects of brain trauma, even though the connections are obvious. He completely bungled the league's policy on domestic violence.

And don't even get me started on Deflategate, in which he managed to alienate the best franchise in the game and insult the best quarterback ever to play over a couple breaths of air. His first instinct was to punish Tom Brady more for deflated footballs than Ray Rice for punching a woman.

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is certainly an upgrade over his predecessor, Bud Selig, whose biggest crime was to be complicit, either intentionally or through ignorance, in baseball's increased use of steroids. Manfred seems like a decent enough guy, but he won't get my thumbs-up until he figures out how to keep baseball games from lasting an hour longer than most movies. If he can find a way to shorten games, maybe the bulk of the fans won't be AARP members.

Then there's NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who I think gets a bad rap from hockey fans. Overall, Bettman has done a decent job, but he did lose an entire season to a lockout, something that never should have happened.

So Silver remains at the top.

But he does have one more issue that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

The league has a serious competitiveness problem. It would appear that right now, only three teams have a shot at the championship. Cleveland and Golden State are expected to meet in the NBA Finals for the third consecutive season. Only San Antonio maybe has a chance to disrupt a three-peat in the Finals.

The NBA is divided between the haves and have-nots, and right now there are only a handful of haves. It has become like a fantasy league, with dream teams forming to win championships. Though it makes for a great playoff series, it makes for what ultimately feels like a meaningless regular season.

The NBA does need to fix this.

At least it has the right guy in charge to do it.

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