He graduated from Rye High School, and then from Duke University in 1984. He worked as a legislative aide for U.S. Congressman Les AuCoin from 1984 to 1985. He earned a law degree from the University of Chicago in 1988.
Before joining the NBA, he served as a litigation associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, a law firm in New York. Silver also worked as a law clerk to Judge Kimba Wood, a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Prior to becoming commissioner, Silver served as NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer for eight years. In that role, he was instrumental to many of the league’s signature achievements, including the negotiation of the league’s last three collective bargaining agreements with the National Basketball Players Association, the development of the WNBA and NBA Development League, the partnership with Turner Broadcasting to manage the NBA’s digital assets, and the creation of NBA China.
Before serving as the league’s second-in-command, Silver spent more than eight years as President and COO, NBA Entertainment. Since joining the NBA in 1992, Silver has also held the positions of Senior VP & COO, NBA Entertainment, NBA Chief of Staff, and Special Assistant to the Commissioner.
During his time with NBA Entertainment, Silver was an executive producer of the IMAX movie Michael Jordan to the Max, as well as the documentary Whatever Happened to Micheal Ray? He also worked on the production side of Like Mike and Year of the Yao.
On October 25, 2012, he was endorsed by David Stern to be the next NBA Commissioner when Stern announced that he would step down on February 1, 2014.
On April 29, 2014, Silver banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the NBA for life in response to racist comments made by Sterling, during a private conversation with Sterling’s girlfriend. Additionally, he fined Sterling $2.5 million, the maximum allowed under the NBA Constitution, and urged owners to vote to expel Sterling from ownership of the Clippers.
On November 13, 2014, Silver published an op-ed piece in The New York Times, where he announced that he is in favor of legalized and regulated sports betting, mentioning that it “should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated”.
In 2016, Sports Business Journal ranked Silver No. 1 on its list of the 50 Most Influential People in Sports Business. In 2015, Silver was named Executive of the Year by Sports Business Journal. That year he was also named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People and one of Fortune’s 50 Greatest Leaders.
In 2014, he was named the Sports Illustrated Executive of the Year.
Silver serves on Duke University’s Board of Trustees and received the 2016 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Chicago Law School. He also serves on the board of the Lustgarten Pancreatic Cancer Foundation.