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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Revealed Who Is On His Mount Rushmore In 2015: Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, And Larry Bird

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Revealed Who Is On His Mount Rushmore In 2015: Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, And Larry Bird

A subject that sparks a lot of debate among NBA fans is the 'Mount Rushmore' of basketball. Much like the actual Mount Rushmore which acknowledges 4 of the greatest presidents in US history, basketball's 'Mount Rushmore' acknowledges 4 of the greatest players in history.

These lists vary from person to person. Fans from the older generation will have stars like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, or Elgin Baylor on their lists. Whereas those who were present in the 80s and 90s will pick players like Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, or even Isiah Thomas.

The debate is usually generational, as fans of the newer generation will pick superstars of the modern game like Kobe Bryant. LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant among other mercurial athletes who have defined the NBA in its more recent history.

But who does NBA commissioner Adam Silver have on his Mount Rushmore? CJ McCollum asked him that question in 2015, as part of a long-form interview for The Players' Tribune

Silver took a methodical approach in answering that question. He picked Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird. But he didn't just pick them for their otherworldly talent.

Silver explained that all these figures not only influenced basketball during their playing career but even after that. Bill Russell and Magic Johnson work with the NBA extensively, Michael Jordan is a franchise owner, and Larry Bird (at the time of writing) was president of basketball for the Indiana Pacers.

"Let me begin by saying I don’t think it’s a fair question to the commissioner of the NBA, but I’m not going to try to duck it completely. Let me limit the pool of players first to former players and then number two to former players that I work with on a regular basis. So number one, Bill Russell, who I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time with. He works in the league, and as you know I was just with him in Cleveland when he presented the MVP trophy in the finals. Number two, Michael Jordan, of course one of the owners in our league. Number three, Magic Johnson, who’s a licensee of the league and currently an owner of the WNBA Sparks. And number four, Larry Bird, president of basketball with the Indiana Pacers. So four gentlemen who we work with on a regular basis and who are on anyone’s list of the greatest players, but I’m being a little bit political by carving out the unique pool of former players who work with the league."

One can question how the NBA greats still playing today felt about these comments from Silver. Players like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant were still active in their careers during this interview, and it's possible they may not have appreciated being overlooked by their commissioner.

Silver took a very interesting approach in naming his list. All 4 players have been key figures in the NBA decades after their playing careers were over. And for the most part, they have helped shape the NBA into the way it is today.