Russ Granik Rumors
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.”
“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.
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.”
Basketball Hall of Fame Chairman Jerry Colangelo defended the Hall’s decision to elect Granik. “The committee that looked at all the people who were submitted as candidates came to the conclusion that Russ Granik was the person they wanted to put forward this year,” Colangelo told USA TODAY Sports. “Everyone has their moment. Some people might get it on the first shot, second shot. In terms of a direct-elect, people are now going into the Hall who never went into the Hall. This is a great example of how this system is really working.
Did you see it as progress that the players said they were willing to discuss any and all issues at All-Star weekend, including a hard cap? Granik: “I haven’t seen that the players said that. I always felt that in bargaining you tend not to make progress in increments, even though that’s what people are always writing is, ‘Well, they didn’t make any progress.’ Well, you don’t really know that. “Nobody really gives up anything important until it’s all done. It’s always got to all be part of a package, because nobody wants to give something unless they know where they’re going. So if you’re not in the room, and even if you are sometimes, it’s hard to know where you are. But it doesn’t take a lot of time to make a deal. And so when the parties are ready, they’ll get the deal done.”
So you said you were encouraged by the NFL’s prognosis, but how do you see the NBA labor situation and where it‘s heading? Granik: “I think the NBA has a more difficult problem (than the NFL), because it’s harder to see where there’s an easy compromise. On a relative basis, they’re looking for greater moves by the players and I think it’s going to be more difficult. They’ve got a lot of smart people on both sides, so hopefully they’ll come to a good conclusion.”