NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke at the opening of a refurbished Staten Island playground and basketball court in an area damaged by Hurricane Sandy. He announced an uplifting New York City-based NBA Cares project and other community efforts that will be going on throughout New York, which will host the 2015 All-Star weekend next February, but it seemed like all the media wanted to talk to him about was the issues of domestic violence in the NBA.
In light of the NFL’s recent domestic violence problems, Silver pledges to take a closer look at the league policies.
“We learn from other leagues’ experiences,” Silver said. “We’re studying everything that’s been happening in the NFL. We’re working with our players’ association. We’ve been talking for several weeks and we’re going to take a fresh look at everything we do.”
“We have in place the appropriate mechanisms for discipline, although we’ll take a fresh look at those as well,” Silver said. “But most importantly, it’s education, and it’s not just the players, but it’s the players’ families. That’s what we’re learning, too.”
Did Silver really need the circumstances in the NFL to jumpstart new policies pertaining to domestic violence? He can just look at the negative activities that has been going on in the National Basketball Association in the last 12 months.
Free agent Greg Oden was in a heated dispute with his ex-girlfriend that ended up with the victim suffering lacerations on her forehead, a swollen eye and a nasal fracture. Toronto Raptors forward James Johnson and former Thunder guard DeAndre Liggins have been arrested and faced domestic violence charges while just recently Charlotte Hornets forward Jeffery Taylor has been arrested in Michigan on domestic assault charges. Three other NBA players and one assistant coach had domestic charges against them dropped.
The NBA’s long-standing policy on all arrests and legal matters has been to let the judicial system play out then base any punishment off that outcome. NBA players who are convicted of a “violent felony” are suspended for at least 10 games. By contrast, the new NFL policy calls for a six-game punishment for the first incident and a lifetime ban for a second offense.
New union executive director Michele Roberts also took part in what was her first official day in her new position. However, Silver said discussions with her started before Monday.
“We do have in place, unlike the NFL, a penalty scale, and to the extent it needs any tweaking, then we’ll talk about tweaking it,” Roberts said. “What I hope we’re going to do as well is figure out ways to prevent any occurrence like that on our side. It’s one thing to know how to react in the event it happens; it’s a lot smarter to try to make sure it doesn’t happen in the first instance.”
Both Silver and Roberts need to get in front of this and become more proactive than their NFL counterparts. Talking about domestic violence during a rookie symposium is not enough because the spotlight will be brighter and sitting back and ignoring the problem until aa All-Star player ends up on a police blotter is definitely not an option.