- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
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New NBA commissioner Adam Silver revealed in an interview with ESPN Radio that Miami Heat star LeBron James is among the players who have personally asked him to make the league's annual All-Star break longer.
Silver told the network he met briefly with multiple players during All-Star Weekend in New Orleans and shared that James, in particular, is lobbying for an extended break to allow the game's stars to enjoy some semblance of respite from the grind of the regular season.
James and fellow Eastern Conference All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh met their Miami teammates Monday in Dallas for an evening practice before the Heat's season resumes Tuesday night against the Mavericks.
"LeBron and I have had a relationship for a long time," Silver said. "We're so far in season [that] the relationship has mainly been one of texting and emailing. I spoke to him for a little bit [Sunday], and he had a few things to say in the locker room when I was in talking to the players.
"One of the issues LeBron raised is a break during All-Star [Weekend]. A guy like LeBron, All-Star Weekend is not a break for him in any way. He's going around the clock with a combination of things the league is asking him to do, personal commitments, and I think it makes sense if we can work in the schedule a few days so the All-Stars can get a break as well."
Silver added that a schedule change of that magnitude would have to be negotiated with the players' association but said he expects the issue to be among the prime topics discussed once the union selects its full-time replacement for ousted executive director Billy Hunter.
The same, Silver said, holds for the change to the NBA age limit he has repeatedly indicated he will pursue.
"We raised it in the last bargaining session, which led to the compromise and us ending the lockout [in November 2011]," Silver said. " ... We'd like the opportunity to try to convince the players that it's in all of our interests to move to a 20-year-old age limit and move away from one-and-done. Improved college ball is better for the NBA, and it will also mean a better NBA with kids coming one year out of college.
"When we finished the last collective bargaining agreement, we had a so-called list of 'B issues,' and we agreed we would address those issues once we got the season up and running. A collective bargaining agreement is like any contract. It can be amended at any time as long as both parties agree."
As for All-Star Weekend specifically, Silver defended the latest changes to the dunk contest but said the widespread criticism that greeted the new format would not be ignored.
"I liked it," Silver said of the dunk contest. "I enjoyed it here sitting in the stands. I didn't see it on TV, so I don't know exactly how it came across, but I obviously pay attention to what's said both in social media, what the media's writing about it. And the good news is I've got a year to improve it. It can always be improved.
"We experimented this year. I don't want to discourage my folks from experimenting. I think with any business you've got to take some chances. We tried something new. I'm sure there's going to be an opportunity to improve it."
Silver also was asked about the challenge of establishing his own commissioner's voice and style after his long run as deputy commissioner alongside the famously forceful David Stern.
"I don't think it's on my mind," Silver said. "I'm aware of it. I was asked earlier today by people I've known a long time if I can be tough enough. It's not my usual demeanor, but I think I'll find my own voice. I think I'll do what's necessary. Hopefully I can do it with a smile, but if I need to be tough, I'll be tough."
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