On the day the WNBA playoffs began, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league is not where it was expected to be almost two decades after its debut.

“We thought we would have broken through by now,” Silver said Thursday in an interview at the Sports Business Journal’s Game Changers conference in New York (via BuzzFeed News). “We thought ratings and attendance would be higher.”

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In 2014, the WNBA-wide average attendance per game was 7,578 fans and TV viewership was measured in thousands, not millions, as widespread popularity continues to lag.

“I think we might have been ahead of ourselves 20 years ago in terms of what we were doing,” Silver said, admitting that he feels in part responsible for where WNBA stands today.

But, he said, “if there were a silver bullet — an easy answer — we would have made the change.”

Touching on several topics during the interview, Silver said he understands players' frustrations with how the league is marketed, that the media and business partners share some of the blame for the lagging attendance and TV ratings, and although WNBA players' salaries are dwarfed by those of their NBA counterparts, the WNBA “can’t have it both ways” by asking why the league is struggling to make money while increasing salaries anyway.

According to BuzzFeed, WNBA president Laurel Richie also discussed the positioning of support of

her league as a cause as well a sports entity during an earlier panel at the same conference. 

“We have, on occasion, sold the WNBA too much as a cause,” Richie said. “We at the W are focused on building a genuine and sustained fanbase. … That’s where our sustainable growth comes from.”