Adam Silver Credit: The Old Man and the Three

It’s no secret NBA viewership is chasing the NFL’s audience. But league commissioner Adam Silver believes if basketball media did a better job breaking down lesser-known squads, the NBA could “become more NFL-like” for casual sports fans.

“Historically, if you asked casual fans, ‘Are you going to watch the NBA Finals?’ They would say, ‘Who’s going to be in it?'” Silver explained in an interview with JJ Redick released on Wednesday. “And if you asked an NFL fan if they were going to watch the Super Bowl, they would never say, ‘Only if the Giants are in it.’ It’s a national holiday.”

While that may seem like a fact of life for the average American sports fan, Silver believes hoops viewers could indeed fall in love with the Denver Nuggets or Cleveland Cavaliers of the league if they were spotlit more consistently.

“Part of my job is to take people who are fans of the game … and by definition create interest in whoever the teams are that are most successful,” the commissioner said on The Old Man and the Three. “I think where we can all do a better job, and again I’m not just pointing to the media here, is talking more about the game. My frustration a bit, I think sometimes the color commentary in our games gets reduced to, ‘this team wanted it more’ or ‘this team tried harder.'”

Silver sees how NFL analysis embraces the national awareness of the sport and covers every team. An average football fan knows what makes Joe Burrow great in Cincinnati or Josh Allen in Buffalo. Silver wants more of that out of analysts at ESPN, TNT and other league partners.

Said Silver: “There’s really complex defenses, what is the offense like? Why is this team losing the way they are? Why is this team successful? Explain what the pick and roll is … explain what’s happening on the court.”

Reductive analysis reinforces the idea that basketball is just a game of individuals and athletic feats. Silver believes that in order to raise interest in every team every night, the discussion needs to be more granular and more celebratory.

“There is this sense (in football) where the coaches are viewed as these field generals, going out there with these complex schemes,” Silver told Redick, who works as an NBA analyst at ESPN. “Then in basketball, it’s just about athleticism. That somehow the coach’s job is just to get the guys to play hard. Rather than … these incredibly sophisticated defenses and offenses.”

With television rights up for negotiation and new partners pushing to enter the fray, Silver’s words are particularly timely. It appears part of any sales pitch to the NBA (aside from a big check) should include a commitment to detailed insights around the league.

[JJ Redick on YouTube]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.