Russ Granik Rumors
“Players played in the Olympics in college,” Granik said. “And at that time, most of the players played in college. If it was their junior or senior year, they would play in the Olympics if they were Michael Jordan or Patrick Ewing. And if they were Larry Bird or Magic Johnson and left school early, they never had an opportunity to play, and they missed it. Every player had the same reaction. Rod called most of the players. Two or three, we called together. I called a couple that I knew. We told them the kind of players we were trying to recruit. They all had the same reaction — if you can put that kind of team together, I’m on board.”
“Larry was a different situation,” Granik said. “He was ailing already at the time. And there really was a question of ‘should he be on the team because he was Larry Bird? And eventually the committee felt, yes. The fact that Magic said he was in, it worked that way with Larry and the others. Rod obviously had a strong relationship with Michael because he drafted him. Rod always told me, Michael says he’s in. He just didn’t want it public. But trust me, he’s in.”
The NBA also revised arena guidelines that restricted “the size (24 ounces) and number (two) of alcoholic beverages sold per individual customer” and also banned the sale of alcohol during the fourth quarter. In addition, the NBA defined a nine-point code of conduct for fans that still is displayed throughout arenas and announced before games. “This was certainly one of the most difficult events that we encountered,” said Russ Granik, the former NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer. “We had never seen anything like this. We realized immediately that it’s going to have a very large impact on the league and it would require a very significant response. I don’t think there was any doubt about that.”
Cleaning out his office in December, David Stern found a photo from his first day as commissioner of the National Basketball Association in 1984. Stern, then 41, had a mustache, a full head of dark hair, and eyeglasses as big as windshields. In the photo he rests his right hand on a copy of the Sporting News Official NBA Guide for the season. His left is raised to take an oath. Russ Granik, a league lawyer who would become Stern’s deputy, holds the book. Seven other guys in suits stand by grinning. “I swore to uphold the NBA constitution, bylaws, and all that’s holy,” Stern recalls. On Feb. 1, 30 years to the day later, Stern will retire as commissioner. Adam Silver, who joined the NBA in 1992 as Stern’s special assistant and has been deputy commissioner since 2006, will take over the top job. There will be no mock oaths, no ceremony of any kind. “It isn’t like I have a key to hand [over] or a staff or a crest of arms,” says Stern, sitting next to Silver in the commissioner’s meeting room at the NBA’s headquarters in New York in December. For Silver, it will be another working Saturday. “It feels seamless,” he says. “I feel I’m as prepared as I’ll ever be.”
“Over the last 22 years, there’s no one on the planet I’ve talked to more than I have David,” Silver says. “For years and years, I traveled everywhere David went. I even opened his mail when I first started working here.” After a year, Silver became NBA chief of staff. Two years later he moved to the league’s entertainment division, which manages its largest revenue source: television rights. (One of his first tasks as commissioner will be negotiations for new national deals. The NBA’s $930 million-per-year contracts with ESPN and Turner Sports (TWX) expire in 2016.) He went on to run the entertainment division for eight years. When Granik stepped down in 2006 after a 22-year run as deputy commissioner, Silver took the No. 2 post. Granik, six years younger than Stern, was seen as too close in age to succeed him. “Had the timing been different, [he] would have become a great commissioner in his own right,” says Silver.