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What Does the NBA Commissioner Do?

The NBA Commissioner serves as the president of the association. He is responsible for numerous things in the NBA and this is a role that requires specific experience and knowledge.

What does the NBA Commissioner do? While the job of the commissioner is broad, the duties of the NBA commissioner mainly include setting up schedules of different matches, negotiating contacts, arranging lawsuits, and providing directions for NBA Draft prospects.

The job of the NBA commissioner has gone through many changes. In this article, we will have a detailed look at this job and the responsibilities of a current commissioner. 

Bargaining Contracts

The first main responsibility of the commissioner in the NBA is to bargain contracts for sponsorships game broadcast. The NBA is an association that is widely known not only in the United States but the rest of the world as well. Because of that, there are numerous volunteers who want to strike deals with the NBA. The commissioner should make sure that these contracts are negotiated effectively.

Following the Contracts

Contracts play an important role in the NBA. This is a document that states the relation between players and teams. The commissioner of the NBA must make sure that these contracts are followed thoroughly and in the case of misconduct, it is the commissioner who should take disciplinary action against players or teams who violate the rules set in contracts. Of course, this is something that requires specific attention from the commissioner. 

Appraisal or Suspension

Players frequently receive numerous awards. One of them is the Finals MVP which is awarded to the best player in the Finals. The commissioner hands this prize directly to the player and other awards too.

As for suspensions, there are other actions taken by players for example during the game, that result in a long term suspension. If such a thing happens, the commissioner needs to suspend the player according to the laws that exist in the NBA.

Providing Guidelines

The commissioner cannot directly change the rules and legislation, however, he can provide guidelines for teams and assist others in making new rules. This also applies to the conduct of games and draft eligibility. Regarding the latter, he is also the one who announces new players during the annual draft.

Media Interviews

When something important happens in the NBA, it is the commissioner who is first asked for the interview from media channels. The commissioner should grant interviews whenever it is necessary and provide detailed explanations and information regarding the issue. These interviews generally concern the season and what are the plans for the NBA.

Employing Front Office Personnel 

The commissioner is also responsible for hiring new staff for the front office. The employment process is difficult and generally takes a lot of time. Because of that the commissioner must be alert and choose the candidates wisely. 

Take Actions for Lawsuits

Whether it is a player or a team, the commissioner needs to take action when it comes to lawsuits. If it is necessary he should also instigate lawsuits by the league. 

David Stern – the Best Commissioner 

David Stern who passed away in 2020, is widely considered to be the best commissioner the NBA has ever had because he has done so many positive things for the association. 

For the league, Stern is, without exaggeration, a legendary figure. It is thanks to David’s outstanding work that the NBA has grown from an unattractive project to a very successful organization.

Stern is the fourth NBA commissioner. He worked in this position longer than all his predecessors – 30 years (1984-2014). In the Stern era, significant changes took place, without which it is now impossible to imagine the league. Under Stern, a draft lottery appeared in the NBA, and a dress code for players was introduced. He fought against drug addiction among basketball players, actively promoted the league to new markets. The Stern era is synonymous with rapid development. During this time, 28 new arenas were built and 5 NBA teams moved to more attractive markets.

Stern, who was appointed executive vice president in November 1980, began negotiating drug testing policies, making the NBA the first major sports league in North America to do this. Once he became commissioner in 1984, the NBA tried to help small-market franchises by imposing a salary cap of $3.6 million for all clubs in the 1984/85 season. Now, this figure is $ 109.14 million. Even if we take into account inflation, the salaries of basketball players have increased more than 10 times. And this growth does not stop.

The league capitalization has grown exponentially during the Stern era. In 1985 Jerry Reinsdorf bought the Chicago Bulls for $16 million. In 2014, the year Stern left his post of commissioner, Steve Ballmer acquired the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion. 

The NBA has opened offices in 15 cities outside the United States and has signed television broadcasts in over 200 countries that broadcast in over 40 languages. The effect of globalization is obvious. This is the sixth straight season in the league with at least 100 foreign players on the roster. During the Stern era, preseason and regular season matches were played outside the United States. Mexico, Japan, Great Britain, France, China are the main foreign areas of work in the NBA.

Other Stern innovations include the creation of the Women‘s NBA in 1997 and the NBA Development League in 2001.