- Darren Rovell, ESPN.com Sports Business reporter
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As NBA commissioner David Stern stood at the podium in a room at the New York Marriott East Side last week giving a talk on the league's community service and charitable efforts, Adam Silver sat in the front row and watched one of the sporting world's best speakers.
Aside from deputy commissioner Russ Granik, who will step down following the season, no one knows Stern like Silver.
He has been in the room for every important NBA announcement for at least a decade and knows what it will take to be the next commissioner of the NBA.
Although that title won't be his anytime soon -- the 63-year-old Stern has promised the owners he will be at the helm through the 2009-10 season -- Silver is now likely the next in line.
That's if he sticks around. Given his success, he has often been coveted by those who have negotiated with him.
Like Stern, Silver has a vast amount of experience for his age. Stern was working for the NBA for almost 18 years before he became the commissioner at the age of 41. Silver, 43, first started at the NBA in 1992 and became president and chief operating officer of NBA entertainment five years later.
"He studies and understands every issue and his people skills are extraordinary," Stern said.
Due to the void that Granik leaves, the league is expected to announce new titles by the All-Star break in February.
Silver has managed virtually all of the league's businesses including television operations, NBA.com, marketing and merchandising. Gross licensed product sales surpassed $3 billion last season and NBA games are now broadcast in more than 200 countries. Silver also has overseen NBA TV, the league's 24-hour network that launched in Nov. 1999 that is now available in 15 million homes. Since the NBA launched a network, so too has the NFL and Major League Baseball intends to do so.
"Adam might work more hours than I do," Stern said. "And that's not a compliment."
While Silver has pushed for change, he also has resisted it.
As the NFL and Major League Baseball signed exclusive deals with one video-game company in recent months, the NBA decided it was better for their business to license out league logos and trademarks to a variety of producers.
Not everything Silver has touched has turned to gold. This year, he was an executive producer of "The Year of the Yao," a documentary on Houston Rockets center Yao Ming. Silver's NBA Entertainment arm sold it to a distributor and the film grossed $35,591 and was only shown in 12 theatres in the U.S, according to Boxofficemojo.com, a box-office receipt tracking Web site.
Silver also had a hand in "Michael Jordan To The Max," an IMAX film that grossed an impressive $18.6 million in the theatres in 2000.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at Darren.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The man who will succeed Russ Granik as NBA deputy commissioner is on a career track similar to that of the league's main man, David Stern.