Monday afternoon, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver stopped by State Farm Arena to discuss the state of the Hawks, the renovation of the arena as well as the roster, and honored the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I think Coach Pierce is doing a wonderful job with this team,” said Silver. “He’s got a very young team. Players are coming into this league increasingly at younger ages, and it requires a special coach to be able to manage those young players. I think he’s the perfect person for that. He and I also had a chance to talk before today’s game and I’ve been immensely impressed with him. I think he also understands that the role of a coach in this league these days goes well beyond X’s and O’s on the floor. He has to build character and help young men mature. And as I said, it’s early days, but all indications are that he’s doing a wonderful job.”

Silver also applauded the Hawks’ rebuild process because it makes sense to break down an existing team which has peaked and then to look for younger players. And that’s what the Hawks are doing right now by drafting Trae Young, Omari Spellman and Kevin Huerter in the 2018 NBA Draft. However, the Commissioner does not want teams to “tank” in order to get the highest draft pick possible.

“I think by flattening out the odds for the top three picks I think we clearly can dis-incentivize teams from sort of needing to try to calibrate their record at the end of the season,” Silver said. “I’ll leave it at that, you know, where the odds can move based on a single win or loss. So we’re past that but the real test in terms of a lot of reform is how teams perform and behave over a number of years. So we’ll see.”

While Silver was in Atlanta, he took time to honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy in his birthplace. Silver was asked about the importance of NBA Cares, the league’s global community outreach program that addresses social issues.

“Whenever I hear clips of Dr. King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, I think of the fact that Bill Russell – someone who I have come to know well – was standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963 when that speech was given,” opined Silver. “So community involvement in social activism is certainly nothing new in this league. One thing, though, that I’m really pleased to see is that this new generation of players in the league understands it is part of being an NBA player. Now, not necessarily to be politically active – that’s a very personal choice – I want them to feel safe, if that’s what they choose to do.

“But more importantly, the fact they choose to become engaged in the communities around them in a positive way, they see that as part of the responsibility of playing this league and it’s something that’s passed down from generation to generation. And while we play a lot of games on MLK Day and that gets a lot of attention, it probably doesn’t get as much attention that all 30 teams are doing things in their community. We celebrate this holiday, and it ranges from basketball clinics and tournaments to essay contests, work in the community and projects that are completely unrelated to basketball. NBA Cares partners with community schools, and as we see today, the players on every team are wearing shooting shirts with part of the text of the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech on it, so it moves me. I think it’s very special for everyone who is involved in this league.”

NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 21: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks to the media after the Board of Governors meetings on September 21, 2018 at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City. (Photo by Michelle Farsi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks rookies (left to right) Trae Young, Kevin Huerter and Omari Spellman pose with new jerseys at their June 25, 2018 introductory press conference. Photo credit: Itoro Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...

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