NBA Backs Away From The Word ‘Owner,’ Adam Silver Says

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Some NBA teams, including the Philadelphia 76ers, have stopped referring to the person who owns the team as the “owner,” believing that the term is racially insensitive in a league in which the majority of players are black and nearly all of the owners are white.

Now, the league’s commissioner says he’s on board with the change.

Per TMZ, commissioner Adam Silver says that the league has been moving away from that terminology for quite some time. The NBA now prefers the term “governor” in referring to the people who own teams.

“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 said. “But, we moved away from that term years ago in the league.”

There doesn’t seem to have been any official action banning the use of the term “owner,” and Silver even acknowledged that use of the word “owner” has occasionally slipped through on official league documents. It appears highly unlikely that the league will punish anyone for using the word.

Silver also said that some players are opposed to the change, as “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.”

Jordan, the all-time great player for the Chicago Bulls, became the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets (then known as the Bobcats) in 2010, four years after he had acquired a minority stake. Jordan is the only African American among those who own NBA teams, and he purchased the Charlotte franchise from Robert Johnson, who had been the league’s first-ever black team owner. Jordan is also the only former player ever to purchase a controlling stake in an NBA team.

The Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green, in particular, has been outspoken about wanting to get away from the term “owner.”

After Adam Silver became NBA commissioner in the spring of 2014, one of his first acts was to banish Donald Sterling, the longtime owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, from the league for life and to force him to sell the team, shortly after Sterling was caught on tape making racist remarks, per USA Today. This kicked off an era of unprecedented political activism among NBA players, which has included the Golden State Warriors refusing to visit Donald Trump at the White House after either of their recent NBA championships.

In a more recent incident, Mark Stevens, who owns a minority stake in the Warriors, shoved the Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry on the sidelines during Game 3 of the NBA Finals, per The Inquisitr. After the Warriors banned Stevens from the arena for the majority of the playoffs, the NBA suspended him for a year and fined him $500,000.