NBA commissioner Adam Silver will miss Game 5 of the NBA Finals due to the league’s health and safety protocols. The league has not said whether or not Silver himself has tested positive for COVID-19 or if he was a close contact of someone who had. When ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reached out to Silver for comment, he simply replied “lousy timing.”
Silver typically attends every game of the NBA Finals. Considering the protocols, though, it is unclear if Silver will be able to attend Game 6 or a possible Game 7, and if he can’t, someone else will need to present the trophy to either the Boston Celtics or Golden State Warriors when one of them wins the championship.
Silver has never missed a championship presentation since his tenure as commissioner began in 2014, including in the Orlando bubble in 2020. The league has not specified who would replace him if he cannot attend. Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum handles the NBA Draft lottery and announces second-round picks at the NBA Draft, so he would be a likely candidate.
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The NBA has largely avoided significant absences during the postseason due to COVID-19. Paul George missed a play-in game, Steve Kerr missed the end of Golden State’s series against Memphis, and there was a reported outbreak in Phoenix that included at least one player, but ever since the Omicron wave that swept through the league in the middle of the season, COVID-related absences have been fairly minimal. Silver’s absence is a reminder that the league and country are still facing the virus and must continue to take steps to limit its spread.