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Commissioner Adam Silver says he's 'pleased and proud' NBA's attention can now be on Finals

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SAN ANTONIO - In the first NBA Finals game of his reign as the league's commissioner, Adam Silver had to deal with a sweltering arena.

Compared to what he's gone through in recent weeks, that seemed like a breeze.

Speaking to The Associated Press on Friday at an NBA Cares event, Silver said he's thrilled that the league's attention can be on the championship series between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs — and not, as it was for so much of the post-season, on the off-the-court matters involving the banishment of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and now the looming sale of that franchise.

"No question," Silver said. "In fairness to all the players and the teams, they worked so hard to get to this moment and a hot building is part of the competition in essence. And all those other things that we've been talking about the last several weeks are not."

Posing for photos with Spurs players, coach Gregg Popovich, general manger R.C. Buford and others, Silver was all smiles when the ceremonial red ribbon was cut at the league's latest "Learn & Play Center" at a San Antonio elementary school. It's the 897th time that the league has been involved with opening a facility like that, and another similar event will be held in Miami when the series shifts there next week.

Silver made no prediction, other than saying he thinks the Heat-Spurs matchup could be a long series. He also said he was satisfied that the air conditioning issues that overshadowed Game 1 have been cleared up and will not affect play when the series resumes in San Antonio on Sunday night.

"We learn something new all the time," Silver said. "The league checklist continues to get longer, the things that we need to ensure are functioning properly before games."

The Sterling matter was Silver's first true test since taking over for David Stern as commissioner, and many players raved about his response, both in terms of message and swiftness. Silver barred Sterling for life after the longtime owner acknowledged making racist comments on tape, plus fined him $2.5 million.

Now, the Sterling matter looks to be essentially over.

The Clippers are poised to be sold to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion, and Sterling's attorney said earlier this week that issues between Sterling and the NBA will be resolved without need for a lawsuit — a decision that basically clears the biggest hurdle that would have precluded a sale.

"I'm pleased and proud that the attention is on the greatest basketball in the world," Silver said.

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