The NBA’s 10 Most Powerful and Influential People
By Mike Elworth: Owner and Publisher/Hoopstuff…
This article isn’t just ranking the best players on the court, these are the people in the NBA; players, owners, league officials and executives who have the most push, power, influence and can affect and change the NBA more than anybody else. These are the people who will be the leaders of this era of basketball and decide what direction the league goes over the next decade or more. These are the 10 individuals who will be the movers and shakers of this era of the NBA.
1. LeBron James
- As the best player in the NBA and as a potential free agent, whatever team he signs with will probably be the instant title favorites, but his voice has almost as much power as his on-the-court excellence. As the face of the league, every opinion he has, has the chance to become law and as the face of the league and the sport, you cannot underestimate the power of his voice. From being the league’s best and most marketable player, to being the main on-court decider of who will be the NBA Champion for the next half decade and having the most powerful voice of any player, a voice that can affect change off of the court, there is no doubting the power of LeBron James.
2. Adam Silver
- As the NBA commissioner, it is no secret that Adam Silver will be the leader of every change in the NBA for a very long time. Any new team, new team location and rule will go through this man. Is he up for the challenge? I believe so and as the league continues to grow, which it will as basketball is now the world’s 2nd most popular sport and the NBA is the Mecca for this sport, the sky is the limit for the changes that Silver could be a part of.
3. Chris Paul
- Paul is the best point guard in the NBA and considered by most to be the NBA’s 3rd best player and just like James, he will be one of the key on-the-court deciders when it comes to which teams are title winners over the next 5 plus seasons, but just as important, he is the new leader of the Player’s Union. In this role, he is in charge of fighting for player’s rights and making changes that will help his fellow NBA brothers long term. His mixture of on and off the court importance makes him incredibly powerful right now.
4. Marc Cuban
- Marc Cuban has three talents; he is really rich (is that a talent?), he runs his team better than almost any NBA owner and by far his best talent is that he isn’t afraid to say what he thinks. The latter makes him incredibly powerful, as he is the only owner who will say what he believes, no matter the cost and he does it for the betterment of the NBA. The best part of this is that he is usually right. He has no fear, which is rare and he uses this skill to be an ambassador of the league. Being the most progressive owner, as well as the loudest, means that he will always try to change the league for the better and as an owner he can convince the 29 more conservative ones to put change into action.
5. Kevin Love
- Kevin Love is a top 5 NBA player and is the best big man in the league, but as he is a free agent after next season and the Timberwolves, Lakers and Knicks are all betting on him as their franchise player for the next decade, he holds the fate of 3 teams in his front pocket, which is 10% of the NBA. Now that is power.
6. David Stern
- David Stern is retired, but that in no way means that he doesn’t still hold influence in the NBA. He is a mentor to the new commissioner and is respected by all 30 teams, so his voice will be heard when it comes to the big issues facing the NBA going forward and his opinions will be taken into account. It is less than he is used to, but he has power nonetheless.
7. Mikhail Prokhorov
- Prokhorov has the deepest pockets of anybody in the NBA and because of that, there is no limit on his NBA credit card. This makes him and the Nets scary, even more so if they start spending his money wisely. He is unpredictable, he is filthy rich and he wants to win, which means that he probably will, however, even more important, are his international ties. As a foreign NBA owner, he can help grow the international brand even more and as one of the most powerful people in Russia and with Russia in Asia and Europe, he can help the NBA brand grow in Europe and strengthen its popularity in Asia even more. He can be a very powerful NBA ally and a global ambassador to the league.
8. Kevin Durant
- As the league’s 2nd best player, every season he plays for the next decade, his team will be a title contender. In 2016, when he becomes an unrestricted free agent, he will be courted by 30 NBA teams and his decision could change the NBA, just like LeBron did with his choice to leave Cleveland for Miami. Miami is going for their 4th straight Eastern Conference Title and their 3rd straight NBA Title and LeBron’s choice has caused a near half decade of Heat dominance and Durant holds that same power in two summers. His play and his big choice makes him incredibly powerful, but the timing of that choice is why he is only 8th.
9. Michael Jordan
- This is pretty to the point, Michael Jordan is the best player in the history of the sport and the best there ever will be. He may be inept when it comes to owning a basketball team, but his voice and opinions hold more power than anyone in the NBA, as this is the man who made the NBA what it is today and you can bet that he will continue to help grow the NBA brand and improve the league.
10. Kobe Bryant
- No NBA player has more power on his team than Kobe Bryant. Even at 35, he will play a very big part in the Lakers’ rebuild and shaping the next era of the league’s most popular team, as they will take every word he says into account when rebuilding this team, as long as he is on the team. He can help them rebuild off the floor and help them try and win another title or 2 on it. He is also beloved internationally and after he retires, he can help build the global brand as well. Regardless, the very fact that he has almost as much power as his GM (exaggerating), means that he has to be on this list, as no player has had as much say when it comes to franchise team since Michael Jordan.