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Jermaine Every: Adam Silver is the best commissioner in pro sports

Adam Silver is a commissioner who gets it. NBA.com

NBA commissioner Adam Silver gets it. There’s no other way to put it. People can come up with other fancy ten dollar words and phrases to describe what he’s done and continues to do if they feel so led. But simply stated “gets it” does the job as efficient as Silver himself.

I was enjoying the NBA All-Star Weekend festivities on television this past weekend with my family. Throughout that time, there is a core group of guys I consider hardcore basketball fans that I will keep in contact with to discuss the goings on. One of them is Gow Media’s own Raheel Ramzanali.

Raheel and I go back to the early days of 1560 when he worked there and I interned. We both love basketball and he can actually play pretty well, so don’t let him hustle you if you ever get the chance to play him. One of the things that came up was the fact that Silver has his hand on the pulse of how to keep the league fresh and interesting to its ever-changing audience, while still honoring the game’s history and traditions.

In one of his many public addresses this past weekend, Silver hinted at a revamped playoff format. His idea is to keep the top eight teams from each conference that qualify, but re-seed them one through sixteen, regardless of conference, so we get the best two teams to meet in the Finals every year. Brilliant idea! While he’s honoring the tradition of the top eight teams from each conference, he’s also shuffling the deck to ensure we get better matchups in the playoffs. The only drawback would be travel. Silver mentioned potential matchups of teams in the first couple rounds that could present travel nightmares. Imagine if the Golden State Warriors played the Atlanta Hawks in the first round, which carries a 2-2-1-1-1 seven-game format? He acknowledged the potential travel issue, but said the league is committed at working on a solution.

Another progressive sign of Silver’s influence is the way the league embraces culture. The Rising Stars Challenge was revamped in 2015 to its current Team USA versus Team World to honor the diversity of the up and coming players. No longer does it use the tired old East versus West format. Also gone is the legends “coaching” opposing teams of their choosing, which kept some of the spotlight on them, and not the young talent. Silver also understands what’s appealing to the younger audience as evidenced by the musical performances over All-Star Weekend. Some had a political overtone; others were populated by rap music and twerking dancers (my personal favorite). Either way, it showed the commissioner knows he has to appeal to a broader spectrum.

Silver has also been at the forefront of the gambling issue by seeking legalization of sports gambling. He took office as commissioner on February 1, 2014. On November 13 of that same year, he wrote an op-ed in the New York Times about legalizing sports betting. This is a clear 180 degree flip from what major pro sports in this country have stood for. The NBA is also reportedly seeking a one percent fee on every legal bet on its games should sports betting become legal. Two of Silver’s quotes that have stuck out to me on this subject that gives insight to his mindset are “It’s good for business, I don’t want to hide from that” and “I’m not pro sports gambling. I’m just a realist.” Major League Baseball considers gambling so taboo that it has banned one of its greatest players, Pete Rose, due to gambling, and still hasn’t placed him in its Hall of Fame. The National Football League endorses fantasy football, yet won’t fully endorse sports betting. Silver on the other hand knows what kind of revenue stream it can be and has looked into making it safe for those who wish to place bets, as well as protecting the integrity of the game.

While he may look like Judge Doom, his actions are more consistent with a man of the people. He hasn’t tried to disparage his predecessor, or anything he had done. Yet he’s embraced change with a progressive outlook to the future, all the while continuing to honor the game’s past. This was particularly evident in one of the performances over the weekend in which there were several current stars speaking on the country’s current social climate. Towards the end of the song, Grant Hill came out with Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Whether it’s gambling, reformatting stale traditions, making sure the halftime entertainment is thicker than a snicker dancing to rap music, or improving league revenue, Silver is steadily proving himself to be the best commissioner in all of pro sports.

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Houston now focused on postseason

Altuve and Correa homer, Astros drop final regular-season game

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With no playoff impact at stake if the Astros won or lost the game, Houston took Sunday's final regular-season game as a chance to get their lineup a few more at-bats before shifting focus to Tuesday's first game of the post-season. Here is a quick recap of the game against the Rangers:

Final Score: Rangers 8, Astros 4.

Record: 29-31, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Wes Benjamin (2-1, 4.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Chase De Jong (0-1, 14.73 ERA).

Houston's main bats get a final tune-up

Knowing they'd only have a couple of at-bats to work with, some of Houston's big bats took advantage, starting with Jose Altuve. He crushed a pitch in the top of the first, a solo homer to put the Astros in front 1-0. After the Rangers tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second, Altuve started the third with a walk before moving to third base on a Michael Brantley single, which improved Brantley's season average to .300.

Aledmys Diaz would pick up the RBI on a groundout to score Altuve, putting Houston back in front 2-1. In Correa's last at-bat in the top of the fourth, he extended the lead to 3-1 with a solo home run of his own.

Rangers hand Astros a loss to end the regular season

After getting the early run against Chase De Jong, the Rangers would put together a big inning against him in the fourth. After two one-out singles, Rougned Odor would give Texas their first lead of the day on a three-run homer to make it 4-3.

De Jong would continue to struggle in the inning, getting just one more out while loading the bases, prompting a move to the bullpen to bring in Nivaldo Rodriguez to try and eat up more innings. The Rangers greeted him with a two-RBI single to extend their lead to 6-3 before ending the fourth. Odor would hit his second home run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, a solo shot to make it a four-run lead at 7-3.

Rodriguez allowed another run in the bottom of the seventh, making it 8-3. Diaz, who drove in a run earlier, would account for another RBI in the top of the eighth, getting Houston's third solo homer of the day. That would make it an 8-4 game, which would go final as the Rangers would win the regular season's last game.

Up Next: Houston's first game of the playoffs will be on Tuesday, with the start time and opponent TBD while the rest of today's games wrap up, and the schedule is announced. Regardless, the Astros are expected to begin that best-of-three series with Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA).

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