In an interview with TNT’s “Inside the NBA” crew of Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver discussed the state of basketball's return-to-play plan for the 2019-20 season. While a target date to start is set for July 31 to resume actual games, there are still certain aspects of the roadmap that need to be hashed out in terms of logistics.
The league had gone back and forth over just many teams would return from the COVID-19 hiatus, and considered setting up a group stage play style similar to the FIFA World Cup and other international competitions. Instead, Silver said that arguably the greatest player of all time deserves credit for pushing the league toward the format that officially won out.
Hall of Famer and Hornets owner Michael Jordan was persistent about the league maintaining its usual 16-team playoff format instead of having play-in games or anything else of the sort. Silver mentioned on “Inside” that Jordan is the most respected voice in meetings among NBA owners, and it's easy to understand why. Using his experiences as a singular superstar in the league like no other owner possibly could, MJ stepped up and gave credibility to the whole process.
Once again, Jordan’s influence on the game of basketball still has a ripple effect almost 20 years after his playing days officially ended. With the help of Jordan’s superstar cachet, Silver was able to draw us all the closer to a proper return to the hardwood.