Alongside the drama of the NBA playoffs, another storyline with just as much uncertainty is going on behind the scenes: the status of the 2017 All-Star Game, scheduled to be held in Charlotte. The hosting state, North Carolina, has passed HB2, a law that rolls back all kinds of protections for LGBTQ individuals, most notably banning transgender people from using the bathroom with which they identify.
The law flies directly in the face of the message of tolerance the NBA and commissioner Adam Silver preach, so the conflict in hosting the sport’s showcase weekend in such an intolerant place is obvious. Silver said a week ago that the law was “problematic” and that the league would work to get it changed, but refused to issue an ultimatum. A week later, his position hasn’t changed, but he’s made it even more clear that something needs to be done when speaking on Mike & Mike.
“They know what’s at stake in terms of the All-Star Game. But at least at the moment, constructive engagement on our part is the best way to go as opposed to putting a gun to their head and saying ‘do this or else.’”
So, basically, Silver is saying he doesn’t want to have to issue an ultimatum, but they’re not likely to hold the game in North Carolina if the law isn’t changed or repealed. The NBA is a massively influential organization with billions of dollars behind it, so maybe Silver is right to bet on his ability to lean on lawmakers. Then again, he also touched on the complicating factor, which is that the NBA still has a team in the state, the Charlotte Hornets.
Pulling an All-Star Game is relatively easy, but it’s a credit to Silver that he realizes the hypocrisy of making one gesture only to keep doing business in the state with the Hornets. The prospect of moving a whole team based on this law seems ludicrous, but that doesn’t mean it’s the wrong thing to do. Silver doesn’t even want to consider that scenario, so it makes sense that he’s doing everything in his power to get the law changed so the league doesn’t have to take decisive action.
(Via Charlotte Observer)