WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Although he’s recently made national headlines for ousting beleaguered Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, there was once a time that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was a precocious youngster in Rye, taking in movies in New Rochelle and hanging out at the Nature Center with his friends.
In a Lee Jenkins cover story for Sports Illustrated, light was shed on Silver’s formative years, which were heavily influenced by the time he spent in Westchester County.
The profile highlights Silver’s ascent to the top of the NBA, and how his past has influenced his handling of the Donald Sterling controversy, where he banned the owner for life and fined him $2.5 million for racist remarks that were recorded and released to the public.
Silver, who grew up in Rye near the Long Island Sound, was a star athlete and student at the high school, according to the profile.
“Adam, grew up in a large Georgian house with a formal garden about a block from the Long Island Sound,” Jenkins wrote. “At Rye High, he was an A student, a class president, a member of the cross-country team and editor in chief of the Garnet and Black newspaper.”
In the profile, Jenkins discusses the time Silver would spent at the Rye Nature Center and Playland Market, where his mother opened a charge account for him. Silver would frequent the Blind Brook Country Club for holiday meals and watched Muhammad Ali fights at a theater in New Rochelle.
Silver’s family was prominent in Westchester County during the commissioner’s childhood. His mother, Melba, was a regular fixture in Rye, where she was an educator, environmentalist and outspoken activist. She was one of the loudest voices rallying against developer Robert Moses’ proposed Oyster Bay-Rye Bridge that would have connected Long Island and Westchester; even having her youngest son spread the word by wearing “Ban the Bridge” buttons.
Silver is not the first sports commissioner to hail from Westchester. He joins ranks that include former NBA Commissioner David Stern (Scarsdale) and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (Bronxville).
Regan Orillac, one of Silver’s two best friends growing up in Rye, noted that some of the challenges, including driving to Playland Market without a license as a kid, he faced growing up in Westchester County helped make him a better commissioner later in life.
“I think that whole experience gave Adam skills that other people may attain later,” he said. “You don’t hem and haw. You don’t ask a thousand people for advice. You get it done, because no one else is around to get it done.”
While the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs prepare for the third game of the NBA finals in Miami on Tuesday, another hurdle was tossed in front of the commissioner: Sterling has decided to fight the Association, and has vowed not to sell his team.