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NBA Finals: Commissioner Silver talks legalized betting, league parity, 76ers’ burner scandal and more

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Credit: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver

OAKLAND, Calif. — Now that the United States Supreme Court has cleared the way for legalized sports betting, NBA commissioner Adam Silver says his league will move vigorously to collect what he described as an “integrity fee” to offset the cost of monitoring up to 50 state gambling jurisdictions as well as a “royalty” for use of the NBA product.

“We think we are due a royalty,” Silver said. “We’ll spend roughly 7.5 billion dollars creating NBA basketball this season . . . It’s ultimately our intellectual property, and we believe we should be compensated for it.”

That was the most far-reaching statement of the commissioner’s news conference just before Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday night. The Warriors and Cavaliers are meeting for a record fourth straight season.

Silver addressed the notion that a lack of parity might lead to a lack of interest. “I think this league is about celebrating greatness,” he said. “You could do more to achieve parity, but you also don’t want a parity of mediocrity.”

Silver hit on a wide range of topics, including the “Burnergate” story in Philadelphia, where a report suggested that 76ers GM Bryan Colangelo might be linked to several “burner accounts” on Twitter that he used to criticize other league executives and even his own players and coach. Silver has discussed the situation with 76ers ownership. “The first thing we have to do here is determine what the actual facts are,” Silver said. “[76ers management] has engaged an outside New York law firm that specializes in these types of investigations.”

Silver also was asked to comment on the violent arrest of Bucks player Sterling Brown, who appeared on video footage not to resist police officers who still used a Taser on him while making an arrest related to a parking violation. Silver noted that Brown’s father had a 30-year police career, underlining the family’s support for law enforcement. “I saw the video,” Silver said. “It’s horrific . . . It’s a reality in our country right now that there’s a disconnect often between young people of color, especially, and police officers, incidentally, black and white.”

The NFL has come under fire recently for instituting a new policy requiring players to stand for the national anthem, but Silver said the NBA has had a similar rule since the early 1980s and views the anthem as a “moment of unity.” He said the league has no plans to engage in any discussion with the players’ union to change the rule.

The NBA also continues to engage in discussions with the union about the possibility of amending the age-limit rule to return to the policy of admitting 18-year-olds to the draft.

Silver said there are no current discussions of expansion despite an NHL and future NFL presence in Las Vegas, which the commissioner noted is home to the NBA Summer League.

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