Adam Silver will officially be the NBA commissioner on February 1st, 2014 when David Stern calls it quits. Silver is being smart about this. You see him at every NBA press conference or event, and he is basically getting his name out there.
In an interview, Silver talks about the new SportVu cameras that are in all 30 arenas in the NBA:
CLNS Radio: Why did you decide to make SportsVu public and develop it for the entire league?
Adam Silver: We decided to make it public because, first of all, there is a huge inefficiency in people going out there and trying to create that data on their own. And we know that if we make that data available, it will draw people closer to the game. For the hardcore fans that are truly interested in it, it’s a way for the passionate fans to get deeper into the game. Ultimately, to the extent that there once was a competitive advantage for some teams having it and not some others, there’s now a sufficient mass of a core group of teams-15 teams-that are already doing it and taking it on themselves.
It made sense to say, “Let’s make this league wide now. Let’s make a certain data set publicly available.” Not all of it, but recognizing that the real value comes from how they use that data as opposed to just the fact that they have it. And how accepting the coach is and the general manager is using the data, and whatever the secret formula and the secret sauce that every team has. That’s really where the difference is.
CLNS: They’re going to defend that secret sauce to the grave, but what is the difference between what the public is seeing and what the rest of the league is getting to see?
Silver: We’re actually just going through that process now. There will be certain data, maybe some of the data certainly
on officiating-certain movements of officials-and some of the other data from players that I think has the potential to be misused potentially and can be misleading in terms of a player’s value. So we’re going through that process now. It’s less about what we’re withholding. It’s about what data is actually meaningful and most valuable to the public.
CLNS: Are you giving guidance to teams on how to interpret the data as far as evaluating their own players and opposing players or are you letting the free market decide how that should be done?
Silver: Well, we let the free market decide. We have a department called TeamBo [Team, Marketing & Business Operations] and the job of that department is to go out and help teams with business analytics, so that teams aren’t direct competitors for selling tickets, for example. For the most part, maybe a little bit in certain cities. But generally, it’s good for everybody if teams develop a better capacity for selling tickets and selling sponsorships. Wins and losses, of course, are very different as it’s a zero-sum game.
So I think there’s got to be a balance there from a league standpoint, one that let’s make this core set of data available and then let the free market work among the teams as opposed to us getting intimately involved on how they use this set of data.
The league is heading towards using more and more analytics, and it seems as if Silver is a big fan of that. The cameras give writers like me more stats to analyze, and more importantly, it gives teams more info on their players.