NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on Thursday confirmed the basketball league will move its 2017 All-Star Game from North Carolina if the state doesn't change its controversial anti-LGBTQ law, making the NBA just the latest, along with PayPal and Deutsche Bank, to threaten to pull its business from the state in response to the measure.
"We've been, I think, crystal clear, that a change in the law is necessary to play in the kind of environment that we think is appropriate for a celebratory NBA event," Silver said, according to the Washington Post. "But that we did have some time and if the view of the people who were allied with us, in terms of a change, the view of the people on the ground in North Carolina was that the situation would best be served by us not setting a deadline, then we would not set a deadline at this time."
One possible reason for the move? Pressure from outside groups, including Bryant Gumbel, host of HBO's Real Sports.
In a monologue on Tuesday, Gumbel said it's time for sport leagues to put their money where their mouths are. Gumbel condemned the law, which prohibits local nondiscrimination laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity, and bans transgender people from using the bathrooms that align with their gender identities in schools and government buildings.
Then, Gumbel issued a call to action:
[The law] uses the guise of bathroom concerns to deny certain rights to gay and transgender people, and effectively greenlights discrimination towards them.
What does that have to do with sports? Not a lot. Only that many of our top sports officials have so far turned a blind eye when taking action could mean a lot. I'm speaking of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who can move to take next year's NBA All-Star Game away from Charlotte. I'm speaking of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who can urge owners to change the site of their meetings in [North] Carolina next month. And I'm speaking of NCAA President Mark Emmert, who can seek to change the site of basketball tournament games scheduled for there next year.
Since it's never too late to do the right thing, here's hoping all those guys may yet lead by showing lawmakers in [North] Carolina and other states considering such measures that their bigotry has a price.
Here's hoping they come to understand what smarter people have often said: that prejudice tolerated is intolerance encouraged.
The NBA seemed to listen. But will the NFL and NCAA follow?