NBA's Adam Silver on LeBron, Durant and, surprisingly, fashion

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Bob Company Bob Iger and Earvin 'Magic' Johnson attend an NBA playoff game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on May 11, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.
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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Bob Company Bob Iger and Earvin 'Magic' Johnson attend an NBA playoff game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on May 11, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.

The annual Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, isn't just a gathering of media and tech CEOs: all the sports commissioners are on the attendee list this year.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver says he and his sports colleagues are in demand for meetings from companies across the media and technology spectrum: "We're talking to the tech companies, the wireless companies, and they're all trying to figure out how they can differentiate their services from others, and one of those ways to differentiate their services is their sports content."

Silver says that strong demand for sports content is what justifies rising valuations for sports content.

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"Steve Ballmer paid a high value for the Clippers. ... I think what the marketplace is telling us is that premium sports content is enormously valuable," he said.

And the NBA is realizing that value, increasingly by selling direct to consumers a league pass package as well as individual games.

"We were over the top before it was called 'over the top,'" Silver said. "For the high-value games we want to sell those to authenticated pay TV subscribers, our bread and butter, but as the industry changes we will change with it."

And when it comes to maintaining the value of that content, Silver says he's not concerned about live streaming apps Meerkat and Periscope eating into viewership yet.

"It is something that I am watching. We can track the usage that's coming out of our arenas," he said. "I spend a lot of time talking to Twitter [Periscope's parent company] and they know it's an issue and they have to respect our copyrights."

The NBA works closely with Twitter as well as Facebook, and is increasingly also working with Instagram and Snapchat. Social media has been hugely valuable for boosting the league's global profile, boosting awareness of teams and players who never used to make the front page, he said.

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"Big markets have lost their advantage a little bit," Silver said. "If you're Kevin Durant, he just signed a huge shoe deal with Nike, mainly because his games are seen everywhere, his highlights are seen everywhere."

On the heels of LeBron James' agreement to a maximum $46.9 million, two-year contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Silver says he's thrilled for what it means for the NBA.

"I was moved watching him during the finals. ... I think it continues to be one of the best stories in all of sports."

Silver isn't just interested in the media and technology companies represented in Sun Valley: he says his favorite panel has been fashion, with Diane Von Furstenberg and Spanx founder Sara Blakely.

And he wasn't fascinated by the panel just because Blakely recently bought a stake in the Atlanta Hawks, but because he's keenly interested in how brands are marketed and the potential for high tech sports gear for his players.

This includes the potential for wearables to help address the wear and tear on players.

"If we can keep our stars on the floor longer in the season, prolonging their careers, that's going to have a major impact on our business," Silver said.

CNBC's Jessica Golden contributed to this story.

Correction: This version corrected the spelling of Blakely's first name, Sara.