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Adam Silver Says NBA Players are 'Truly Unhappy' Thanks to Social Media

Adam Silver:

“I think there are a lot of things going on. One is a larger, societal issue. … Our players are young. We have a lot of younger people working at our office. I mean, I think we are are living a bit in The Age of Anxiety. I’ve read studies on this and I think it’s a direct result of social media.

“Those players we talked about, when I meet with them, what surprises me is that they’re truly unhappy. This is not some show they’re putting on for the media. … When I’m one-on-one with a lot of these guys, I think to the outside world they see the fame, the money, all the trappings that go with it, that they’re the best in the world at what they do. They say ‘How is it possible that they could be complaining?’ I hear this on television all the time. A lot of these young men are generally unhappy.’’

That’s a deft move by Adam Silver, framing his argument as a generational thing. He doesn’t want to hear your bellachin’ about how you used to walk five miles to school uphill through blizzards with a hot potato in your pocket to keep you warm and then you ate the potato for lunch. NBA players are young. Young people are unhappy. It’s societal issue. And we have social media to blame for it. It’s created an Age of Anxiety that no professional athlete can survive with his soul intact, never mind his happiness.

I guess I’m as guilty as anyone of asking “How is it possible that they could be complaining?” But now I get it. As I watched this I silently nodded in agreement just like Bill Simmons. I used to think this generation of athletes – and this generation as a whole – had it easier than any that’s come before. But consider me straightened out thanks to Silver and Simmons.


And to think, I used to feel bad for guys like Jackie Robinson. Sure, from his very first At Bat in the Majors there were people screaming for him to go back to Africa. Followed by letters threatening to kill him and his whole family or kidnap his son. But hey, at least he was spared from Tweets saying he sucks.

Sure, Yogi Berra sailed to Normandy beaches on D-Day. And Warren Spahn fought at the Battle of the Bulge before winning more games than any lefty in history. But they got off easy. At least they didn’t have to survive the Age of Anxiety like Adam Silver’s players. Enduring criticism and the hell of Woj trade rumors all over the place. And while we’re on the subject, Ted Williams fought two wars, had to crash land his burning jet in a field in Korea, and still had ten Boston daily newspapers giving him massive rations of shit every day in order to sell copies. Lucky for him though he didn’t have to deal with videos of his throwing errors going viral.

Remember in Cinderella Man when Jim Braddock’s wife was watering down their baby’s milk in the depths of the Depression? That moment cracked my heart in two. But now I see what a couple of sob sisters they were. Luis Tiant escaping Cuba without a dollar in his pocket didn’t know shit about what real unhappiness is. Athletes who competed through times of civil unrest, segregated hotels, assassinations, military drafts, economic crises, labor strikes, the Cold War and natural disasters? All a bunch of delicate little sissy boys who never had to face the hardships of playing in Adam Silver’s NBA in 2019. Thanks to the widespread scourge that is social media.

So please let’s all try to remember this the next time one of them is banging some incredible smokebomb he met on Instagram, is posting himself behind the wheel of a car that costs more than my house, or getting paid millions to promote a shoe on Twitter. That might look like happiness, but in truth they’re suffering like no one has ever suffered before.