After having said last week that no decision had been made on pulling next year’s NBA All-Star Game from North Carolina, the league’s commissioner now says the game definitely will be moved if the state’s recently enacted anti-LGBT law isn’t changed.
“We’ve been, I think, crystal clear a change in the law is necessary for us to play in the kind of environment that we think is appropriate for a celebratory NBA event,” commissioner Adam Silver said today at the Associated Press Sports Editors’ commissioner meetings in New York City, The Charlotte Observer reports.
And appearing on ESPN’s Mike & Mike morning radio show, Silver said this isn’t a change in position but a continuation of the NBA’s “constructive engagement” with North Carolina officials. “They know what’s at stake in terms of the All-Star Game,” he said. “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.’”
North Carolina’s anti-LGBT House Bill 2 was passed by legislators and signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory all in one day, March 23. It nullifies LGBT-inclusive municipal antidiscrimination ordinances, while preventing cities and counties from enacting new ones; it was aimed particularly at blocking a public accommodations ordinance adopted in Charlotte. It also bars transgender people from using the restrooms, locker rooms, and other single-sex facilities that match their gender identity, if those facilities are in government buildings, including public schools. And it prohibits residents from filing discrimination suits in state court as well as barring municipalities from setting a higher minimum wage than the state.
Many businesses, entertainers, governors, and mayors around the nation have taken a stand against the law. A bill to repeal it was introduced this week, which also saw a statement from McCrory that if a recent court ruling on transgender rights turns out to strike down the law, he would obey the court.
The 2017 All-Star Game is set to take place in Charlotte, where the hometown Hornets will host the Miami Heat Saturday in game 3 of the first round of the NBA Playoffs. On the radio program, Silver said that having playoff games in North Carolina while the All-Star Game’s status remains in question creates a quandary.
“I’m not sure what statement we would have been making by pulling the All-Star Game but saying we’re absolutely fine playing our playoff game in Charlotte,” he said. “What’s most important to this league is that there be a change in the law. It’d be easy to make a statement, but I can’t cut and run here. I’m leaving my team there.”