Three days after the NCAA announced it would once again host championship events in North Carolina, NBAcommissioner Adam Silver announced on Friday that the league will put Charlotte back in the mix for All-Star Game consideration. After near universal outrage over its anti-transgender legislation last year—including protests from musical acts, the NCAA, and the NBA—North Carolina repealed HB2 and replaced it with HB142, another bill that is for all intents and purposes exactly the same. Because North Carolina can technically say it repealed the discriminatory law, the NBA became the latest organization to show its true colors and crawl back to the state.
Just like the NCAA, Silver acknowledged that this new bill is in fact not very good. Because it is not: the specific bathroom provision is gone, but there's nothing preventing a similar provision from being enacted, transgender people are still not a protected class, and local municipalities cannot pass ordinances that offer rights not provided on the state level. So the transgender community is still screwed. And Silver is on the record that that is bad, OK? Now that we've very lightly publicly admonished a legislative body that saw fit to pass a law concerning who uses what bathroom, we've got a business to run and hearts and minds to change through the power of exhibition basketball.
Here's a thing that Silver actually said out loud in front of people:
"We believe that an All-Star Game in Charlotte could be a powerful way to display our values of equality and inclusion, and by engaging even more deeply in North Carolina, we can be part of a larger national effort toward securing LGBT equality."
Hoo boy, is that some fragrant bullshit. Do you know what actually was a powerful display of your values of equality and inclusion, Adam? I bet you do—I bet you know it was ripping the All-Star Game out of Charlotte because of the state's brazen hatefulness. Why the league would want to substitute that unequivocal show of force for something you "believe" "could" happen makes little sense.
Yes, there is a franchise and a D-League team in North Carolina, and the league therefore does significant business there and, no, it is under no obligation to take a definitive stand against legislated bigotry. But it did take a stand, one that made things very uncomfortable for the state and cost former governor Pat McCrory his job. Then everyone watched last week as North Carolina played the legislative equivalent of three-card monte and made it impossible to pass laws that banned discrimination. And for some reason the NCAA, and now the NBA, actually decided to play a hand.