Philippine Basketball Association commissioner Chito Salud on Sunday officially announced that he’s stepping down as head of the league by the end of the 40th season, a move that was approved by the board of governors.
Salud appeared in front of mediamen accompanied by the team representatives to the PBA board.
“With due and respectful notice to our team owners and board of governors, I have decided to step down and relinquish my position as PBA commissioner at the end of this season,” Salud said during a short press conference at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“Binisita ko lahat ng team owners, and personally explained to them my reason for leaving. To give way to someone,” he added.
PBA chairman Patrick Gregorio of Talk ‘N Text said the board had accepted the resignation of Commissioner Salud with a heavy heart.
“Nalulungkot rin kami at nasorpresa sa desisyon ni Commissioner Salud to resign as commissioner of the PBA,” added Gregorio. “We have a special board meeting on February 26 kung saan bubuuin namin ang criteria sa paghanap ng susunod na commissioner.”
Big shoes to fill
Under the leadership of Salud, the PBA established new records – attendance, participating teams and a new league.
A record 52,612 was established in the opening day of the 40th season at the Philippine Arena, the biggest crowd gathered in a single game since Game 7 of the Philippine Cup semifinals series between San Mig Coffee and Barangay Ginebra.
A total of 12 teams are now participating in the 40th season, also a new record following the entry of expansion teams Blackwater and Kia as well as the acquisition of the Air 21 franchise by NLEX.
It was also the first time in league history that a professional boxer played in the PBA – eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao.
Salud was the one who pushed for the creation of a new league – the PBA D-League which was opened to players 17 to 26 years of age and the league has become a breeding ground for new talent.
For the son of the late PBA commissioner Rodrigo Salud, serving the PBA after five years is the best time to step down, especially now that he’s leaving the PBA in good hands.
“I do remember the first time when I was tasked to make the opening speech during the 36th season. I made my concentration with the fans, with our team owners, our stakeholders, and what were the sentiments at that time? ‘Humihina na po ang PBA, marami na pong kalaban, mayroon nang boxing, mayroon nang football, marami nang iba’t ibang forms ng entertainment, mga players ng PBA hindi na naglalaro with heart, gusto nila sumuweldo lang. These were sentiments at that time.’ That was then. It’s different now,” added Salud.
“Today, the PBA is stronger in its 40th year and more relevant than ever.”
Photo by Nuki Sabio