I think the NBA has done the right thing by holding off on pulling the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte before the league sees how all the political cards are played. After all, our city is not the villain here.
Six U.S. senators signed a letter advocating the NBA move its midseason showcase out of Charlotte because of North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2, which limits protections for LGBT individuals. But NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Friday in New York said that while “the current state of the law is problematic for the league” that the NBA can “be most constructive by working with elected officials to effect change.”
I understand that a lot of people are mad at HB2. And they should be. In our state, we have somehow managed to fabricate a controversy out of thin air and bathroom stalls.
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But penalizing Charlotte by ripping the NBA All-Star Game from our grasp right now is not the answer. I get it – such an act would have serious symbolism. But as the six senators said in their own statement: “We hold no ill will towards the people of Charlotte, who passed an anti-discrimination measure that HB2 overturned, or towards the people of North Carolina.”
To pull the ASG right now would be like trying the old classroom trick of making everybody stay in for recess when a few kids caused all the trouble. I always thought that was the mark of a lazy teacher – one not willing to dig deep enough for the truth.
The NBA is still concerned and has reserved the right to make a change to the Feb. 17, 2017, game, but it hasn’t jumped the gun for the sake of political expediency. That’s a well-reasoned stance, and it puts the ball in North Carolina’s court to clean up our own bathroom mess. If we don’t get it fixed, shame on us.
NFL SCHEDULING NOTES: The NFL.com website notes that the 256-game league schedule released Thursday was No. 43,066 spit out by the league’s computers. The Panthers-Broncos Super Bowl season-opening rematch in Denver on Sept. 8 will get an inordinate amount of attention now, but in general I thought the league did a nice job giving Carolina its due (five prime-time games) and also providing a fair schedule to the Panthers.
The Panthers’ five prime-time games include two Thursday nights, two Monday nights and one Sunday night.
Carolina is one of five NFL teams – along with Atlanta, San Francisco, Miami and Oakland – that will play back-to-back games on the opposite coast. Carolina games at Oakland (Nov. 27) and at Seattle (Dec. 4) will almost certainly keep the Panthers on the West Coast for the week in between. That’s the growing trend in the NFL in those situations – rather than bouncing across the country twice – and most or all of those other teams will do the same thing.
TICKET STUFF: Panthers single-game tickets go on sale on April 30 at 10 a.m., and I expect a couple of the games (like the NFC title-game rematch against Arizona Oct. 30) will sell out quickly.
As for the Charlotte Hornets, they were a modest 18th in the NBA in home attendance this season (although they did have 13 sellouts, which set a franchise record if you don’t count the “Classic Hornets” years).
You can certainly see that by the Hornets’ own playoff ticket sales. While the lower bowl is basically gone, you can still get upper-level tickets via Ticketmaster for around $35-40 for the team’s two guaranteed home playoff games against Miami on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and on Monday April 25, with the time to be determined.