NBA Moves Away From 'Owner' Label for Racial Sensitivity, Favoring 'Governor' Instead
NBA commissioner Adam Silver told TMZ, "I'm sensitive to it and I think teams are moving away from the term"
The NBA is moving away from using the term “owner” when describing the title of a team’s highest-ranking executive, commissioner Adam Silver said in an interview with TMZ.
The move is being implemented due to the racial connotations of the term for a league in which Black athletes make up the majority of its players.
While speaking to the outlet, Silver — who has been the head of the NBA since he took over for David Stern in 2014 — revealed the league has tried to distance itself from the word for several years and is hoping teams adopt the word “governor,” or an alternative, instead.
“I don’t want to overreact to the term, because as I’ve said earlier, people end up twisting themselves into knots avoiding the use of the word,” Silver told TMZ. “We moved away from that term years ago at the league. We call our team owners ‘governor’ of the team and ‘alternate governor.’ “
Several players have voiced their concerns with the term over the years. In 2017, Golden State Warriors player Draymond Green explained the word sets the “wrong tone” since it can evoke slavery.
“Let’s stop using the word owner and maybe use the word Chairman,” Green wrote on Instagram. “To be owned by someone just sets a bad precedent to start. It sets the wrong tone. It gives one the wrong mindset.”
Green’s comments came in response to former Houston Texans’ owner Bob McNair warning other NFL team executives that the league should avoid having “inmates running the prison” in regards to players’ kneeling protests, according to Sports Illustrated.
“I think it makes sense,” Silver explained to TMZ of the change. “You’ll find the word throughout memos over the past decade in the NBA. But I’m sensitive to it and I think teams are moving away from the term [and] will stick with using ‘governor.’ ”
But Silver admitted that the choice to move away from the term has not been received positively from all players.
“A few players have actually spoken out in saying the greatest thing that ever happened was when Michael Jordan was able to call himself an owner,” Silver explained, alluding to when Jordan became the first former player to become a majority owner of an NBA team when he purchased the Charlotte Hornets in 2010.
According to USA Today, many teams across the league have begun to use “governor,” “chairman” and “CEO,” other teams — such as the Warriors and the Houston Rockets — still have the term “owner” listed on official guides.