NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league has phased out the term “owner” to describe individuals with controlling interests in its teams amid concerns that the title is racially insensitive in a league where the majority of players are African-American.
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"I don't want to overreact to the term because, as I said earlier, people end up twisting themselves into knots avoiding the use of the word ‘owner,’" Silver told TMZ Sports. “But we moved away from that term years ago with the league. We call our team owners ‘governors’ of the team and ‘alternate governors.’”
Silver’s remarks came days after Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green spoke out against the term “owner” during an appearance on HBO’s “The Shop.” Green suggested that sports leagues should shift toward titles such as chairman or CEO.
Green also aired concerns about the title during the 2018 NFL season, when late Houston Texans owner Bob McNair drew criticism after he referred to players as “inmates” during an internal debate about player protests during the national anthem. McNair later apologized the remarks and said they were not meant to be derogatory.
Silver acknowledged that while NBA officials have continued to use the word “owner” in team memos in recent years, he is “sensitive” to the concerns voiced by Green and other players.
"Players have gone both ways. I think a few players have actually spoken out and said the greatest thing that ever happened was when Michael Jordan was able to call himself an owner,” Silver said. "But, of course, Draymond Green has been very public about the fact that we should be moving away from the term ... and I completely respect that."