Twenty-two years ago, a humble, shy – and noticeably tall - man arrived at the NBA offices. His behavior and life story pointed to the fact that he was someone extraordinary. Unlike in our neck of the woods, the route that functionaries take to the top in the USA is well-organized, and does not cut any corners.
Adam Silver had come to interview for the role of David Stern's personal assistant, alongside thousands of other candidates. His resume, which included a law degree from one of America's top schools, where he performed exceptionally well, was what made the boss pick him. He walked a long and slow road in several functions in the NBA, until he was deemed fit for the vice-commissioner's role. Early this year he won the prestigious role of commissioner. It was no surprise to those who know him, who were certain he would go far.
This week, as Silver was still settling into his new chair, something out of the ordinary happened in the world of sport. Some hateful phrases from the dirty mouth of Los Angeles Clippers' owner Donald Sterling (and that is an understatement), sparked an all-out war that had racism as its heart. At first, it seemed that the affair would pass without a storm, but the internet put pay to that, causing mayhem and a wildfire of reactions.
The moment has proved to be a crossroads for everyone, especially Adam Silver. This seemingly gentle person stunned everyone with an incredible fast break that ended in a powerful slam-dunk, and the rest is history. Sterling was given a lifetime ban by the NBA, which has Silver at its helm.
When David Stern started his reign, events were slow-paced. Today, with the internet, Instagram and Twitter ruling the world, the new commissioner has become one of the world's most famous personalities.
A few years ago, then-Indiana Pacers forward Ron Artest (who now calls himself Metta World Peace) burst into the stands to take matters into his own hands against several hostile fans. The punishment given by Stern seemed unbelievable - a 90-game suspension and millions of dollars lost in unpaid salary. This week, it appeared that the lesson Silver took from Stern made the student rise above his master.
The world still has not come down to earth from Adam's gutsy actions. And we in Israel would like to see Silver's move studied by sportsmen here, especially by those who dispense punishments.
Seven years ago, when Barack Obama was running for the Democratic presidential nomination, some campaigned for David Stern as a potential candidate. Renowned New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman even supplied backing for it in the media. The idea never came to fruition, mainly because of Stern's refusal to entertain the idea.
This might seem overly presumptuous, and it is too early to predict what will happen, but this dramatic case and the way Silver handled it indicates a promising future for the young commissioner. Or, if you will, the sky's the limit.