The NBA picked a crucial moment for Republicans – the last night of their national convention – to drop a bomb on their party’s homophobic hate movement, by taking away their prestigious 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte.
In March, North Carolina’s Republican Governor Pat McCrory signed a bill called HB2 which pre-empted and cancelled every local law protecting citizens from discrimination for gender identify and orientation local discrimination ordinance, and seeks to criminalize the use of public bathrooms by trans Americans solely out of spite.
That’s the same ordinance Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump decided to support this July, spurning his liberal New York upbringing to mix homophobia in with his racist campaign in a foreshadowing of choosing a anti-LGBT Republican Governor Mike Pence as his running mate.
Republican Governor McCrory appeared personally at the 2015 announcement awarding the prestigious NBA All-Star game to Charlotte along with basketball legend Michael Jordan – the first player to ever purchase a franchise – and the NBA’s Commissioner Adam Silver.
Little did they know that two short years later, the Governor would derail North Carolina’s entire economy and caused the United Kingdom to issue a travel warning to its citizens of all gender identities that the vile HB2 could endanger visitors.
NBA Commissioner Silver was long rumored to be considering making the change, and now basketball fans in North Carolina will suffer the ill effects of their political leadership’s decisions, which will cost Charlotte’s businesses up to an estimated $100,000,000 in lost revenue. The NBA’s statement reads:
Since March, when North Carolina enacted HB2 and the issue of legal protections for the LGBT community in Charlotte became prominent, the NBA and the Charlotte Hornets have been working diligently to foster constructive dialogue and try to enact positive change. We have been guided in these discussions by the long standing core values of our league. These include not only diversity, inclusion, fairness and respect for others but also the willingness to listen and consider opposing points of view.
While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2.
The Charlotte Hornets are owned by basketball legend Michael Jordan, who must be furious that lawmakers in his home state have denied his franchise the opportunity to showcase the growth of their franchise, which re-launched as the Charlotte Bobcats in 2004 and retook name Hornets just two seasons ago. In the span of a few short seasons, the Hornets have grown on the floor from an NBA laughing stock to a top-10 franchise who lost to the Miami Heat in seven games in this year’s 2016 NBA Playoffs. The Hornets released this statement:
“We understand the NBA’s decision and the challenges around holding the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte this season. There was an exhaustive effort from all parties to keep the event in Charlotte, and we are disappointed we were unable to do so. With that said, we are pleased that the NBA opened the door for Charlotte to host All-Star Weekend again as soon as an opportunity was available in 2019. We want to thank the City of Charlotte and the business community for their backing throughout this entire process, starting with the initial bid. We are confident that they will be just as supportive and enthusiastic for the 2019 NBA All-Star Game.”
The NBA has long been considered one of the most progressive, if not THE most progressive sports leagues when it comes to gender identity issues. Jason Collins became the first openly gay professional athlete in any major American sports league. Both Collins and legendary Center Kareem Abdul-Jabar – who’s found his voice as a brilliant social critic and writer for Time.com – will speak at next week’s Democratic National Convention which will be held in Philadelphia.
Legendary former-Commissioner David Stern banned former All-Star point guard Tim Hardaway from the 2007 All-Star game for going on a homophobic rant on the radio, and he lost his employment with the Miami Heat over that outburst, one of his former teams. Ultimately, Hardaway not only sought and found redemption for his sadly misguided fear of gay people, supported marriage equality in Florida after having performed countless hours of voluntary community service, and has since returned to the NBA as an assistant coach with the Detroit Pistons.
Kudos to the NBA for their commitment to upholding the values of tolerance in not only word, but in deed. Now it’s up to the Republican majority in North Carolina’s elected branches of government to seek redemption which the NBA is practically begging them to do, or continue to damage their residents, businesses and the state’s public image by keeping their dark ages, anti-LGBT HB2 law on the books.
The NBA’s complete statement:
The NBA issued the following statement today regarding the 2017 NBA All-Star Game pic.twitter.com/2yo1YDA2Un
— NBA (@NBA) July 21, 2016
NBA officially decides to relocate 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte
— NBA.com (@NBAcom) July 21, 2016
Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition