NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday that if North Carolina’s LGBT law remains unchanged, the 2017 All-Star Game would have to be moved from Charlotte.
Silver’s comments on the state’s controversial House Bill 2 came at the Associated Press Sports Editors’ commissioner meetings Thursday, according to attendees. Earlier in the day, Silver again called the law “problematic” for the league as it stands, but he said he’s confident state lawmakers will “do the right thing.”
“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,” Silver said at the APSE event.
And speaking on ESPN’s Mike & Mike morning radio show, Silver said the NBA is more interested in working with local businesses and governments to effect change in the law, rather than in setting ultimatums about the 2017 All-Star Game, which is to take place in Charlotte.
“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,’” Silver said.
It’s the same message he had last week following the NBA board of governors meetings in New York, when Silver said no decisions had been made about moving the game from Charlotte.
Other entertainers like Bruce Springsteen have canceled their North Carolina shows because of House Bill 2, which sets a statewide definition of protected classes of citizens that doesn’t include sexual orientation and gender identity. It also strikes down a Charlotte ordinance that would have allowed transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.
When co-host Mike Golic asked Silver what he would do if he were in Springsteen’s shoes, Silver said he faced a conundrum because the NBA has a team in North Carolina and is hosting playoff games in Charlotte.
“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,” Silver 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,” he added.
Silver, a graduate of Duke University known for having little tolerance of issues he finds discriminatory, said he’s optimistic about a change to the law.
“It’s an incredible state, and it’s always had a reputation of being a progressive Southern state, and I believe they’re going to do the right thing,” Silver said.