It's hard not to listen to NBA commissioner Adam Silver's empathetic and eloquent comments about the inherent difficulties surrounding the league's return to play and contrast it with the messy food fight that negotiations between Major League Baseball and its union have become.
Speaking to ESPN Monday night, Silver acknowledged the 22-team restart that is scheduled to begin with training camps in mid-July and games on July 30 in Orlando, Fla., is "not an ideal situation."
Silver hit all the right notes in acknowledging players' legitimate concerns about the unknown risks surrounding COVID-19, the displacement from current communities where the fight for racial justice is ongoing, the lengthy isolation in a quarantine setting at Disney World and the injury risk after such a long layoff that could affect future earnings.
"We are trying to find a way to our own normalcy in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of essentially a recession or worse with 40 million unemployed, and now with enormous social unrest in the country," Silver told Mike Greenberg. "I'm incredibly sympathetic and empathetic to what's happening in people's lives. And in the midst of all that, to say, ‘We're looking for an opportunity to restart this league, to try to move forward with crowning a champion,' it's not top of mind for a lot of people."
It's why he stressed that participation isn't mandatory, although not playing obviously would mean no paychecks.
But at the same time, Silver, unlike what's happening with Major League Baseball, tried to point to the greater good that sports can achieve.
Sure, there are massive financial implications. Without a restart, it's likely the league would move to renegotiate the collective bargaining agreement with the players association. As it stands, the losses that have accrued since Silver became on March 11 the first commissioner to pause a major sports league are significant - implications on future salary caps and luxury tax figures are projected to be large.
But in part acknowledging the eight teams, including the Bulls, who weren't invited to the restart, Silver downplayed that the sole motivation is money. Are you listening, Major League Baseball?
"The incremental difference between, at this point, playing and not playing, isn't nearly as great as people think, especially given the enormous expense in putting this on," Silver said. "Really, it's more a sense from the entire NBA community that we have an obligation to try this because the alternative is to stay on the sidelines, in essence, give in to this virus. For us, we feel that this is what we do. We put on NBA basketball. We think that for the country, it'll be a respite."
In other words, play ball.
Nobody is expecting a completely smooth experience. Bumps will occur along the way, even in the leadup to the league trying to pull off this unprecedented model.
But the attempt certainly beats squabbling over how to split up a large pie of money.
Unlike MLB, NBA's Adam Silver hits right notes in attempt to play ball originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago