Basketball legend Charles Barkley is not happy with HB2 — the new North Carolina law that prevents cities from enacting LGBT protections and requires transgender people to use the bathrooms that align with their birth certificate, not their gender identity — and he wants the NBA to take action.
The NBA has already expressed that it is “deeply concerned” about the anti-LGBT law, which “runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect,” but said it doesn’t yet know what impact it will have on the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte.
In a wide-ranging interview on CNN, Barkley didn’t hesitate to advocate for moving the high-profile game away from the Queen City.
I think the NBA should move the All-Star game from there next year. As a black person, I’m against any form of discrimination — against whites, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, however you want to phrase it. It’s my job, with the position of power that I’m in and being able to be on television, I’m supposed to stand up for the people who can’t stand up for themselves. So, I think the NBA should move the All-Star game from Charlotte.
Barkley has been outspoken against discriminatory legislation in the past. Last year, he urged the Final Four to move out of Indianapolis after Indiana passed an anti-LGBT law (which was ultimately quickly rescinded). As one of the most recognizable faces in the sport, and an analyst on the wildly popular TNT show Inside the NBA, Barkley’s stance is a significant one, especially considering that many current NBA stars have been quiet.
Steph Curry, currently the best basketball player in the league and a North Carolina native, has not denounced the law, but has spoken out against discrimination. “While I don’t know enough about the North Carolina law to comment more fully, no one should be discriminated against,” he said. Curry has been under the microscope because his church, the Central Church of God in Charlotte, is very anti-LGBT rights.
North Carolina has received a lot of backlash from businesses since enacting the law in a special legislative session two weeks ago. PayPal canceled its plans for a massive global operations center that would have brought 400 new jobs to Charlotte. But so far, no sporting events have been taken away from the state. The NFL stated this week that it would not move its owner’s meetings from Charlotte.
Barkley, who once famously said that he’s not a role model, also expressed “sadness” in the CNN interview over the state of politics today and the presidential race. “What politics in America has become is about rich people screwing poor people,” he said.
“[W]e’re a much better country together than separate. We’ve made this thing about rich against poor, black against white, white against Hispanic, and that’s not the way the greatest country in the world should operate.”