As commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA), Adam Silver is one of the most influential people in the sports industry. In his current position, Silver presides over a global sports and media empire built around four professional sports leagues: the National Basketball Association, Women's National Basketball Association, NBA G League, and NBA 2K League. A lawyer by training, Silver joined the NBA in 1992 and has held numerous executive positions. To his credit, during Silver's tenure as commissioner, the league has experienced strong economic expansion, especially in China. Quick to leverage the recent advances in digital media, Silver directed the development of NBA TV and NBA.com and oversees game telecasts now carried in more than 200 countries and territories – in 47 languages. Among his many industry recognitions, Silver has been listed as one of Fortune's 50 Greatest Leaders and Time's 100 Most Influential People. He was No. 1 on Sports Business Journal's 50 Most Influential People in Sports Business for 2016.
A New York native, Silver hadn’t been down south when he enrolled at Duke University in the fall of 1980. At Duke, he was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity and held the position of Alumni Secretary. Not a natural athlete, Silver never stepped on the basketball court for the Blue Devils, but he was certainly aware of the struggles experienced by the men’s basketball team. Considered a perennial powerhouse, the team was experiencing a major rut. “I was an undergrad during probably the most challenging four-year stretch in the history of the men's basketball program,” Silver said, adding that his freshman year coincided with that of brand-new head coach, Mike Krzyzewski. During Silver’s first three years at Duke, Coach Krzyzewski’s teams tallied a depressing 38-44 record. But ultimately, this experience demonstrated to Silver an invaluable lesson that he never forgot: the "importance of a long-term commitment to building a program the right way." An accomplished student at Duke, Silver graduated in 1984 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science.
Despite his high-profile responsibilities, Silver remains active in the Duke community. In 2015, he was appointed to the university’s Board of Trustees and currently serves as both Vice Chair and a member of its Executive Committee. Also in 2015, Silver received a Distinguished Alumni Award, putting him in extremely rarefied air. Previously, in 2013, during an exclusive interview with GoDuke.com, Silver had this to say about the importance of his college days: "It was at Duke that I... learned about the power of great brands and the importance of a passionate fan base. And of course my political science degree comes in handy when I'm negotiating with the Chinese Sports Authority!”