NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Friday that it was “not an easy decision” for the league’s Board of Governors to make, but that yes, Charlotte would be eligible to host the 2019 All-Star Game. Last year, the NBA pulled the game from Charlotte because of the “climate created by HB2” was not conducive to the league’s values, including “diversity, inclusion, fairness, and respect for others.”
The joke on the NBA is that the climate hasn’t changed. The “compromise” to repeal HB2 still communicates that allowing transgender people to use restrooms could pose a threat to others. That’s why it bans cities from passing laws to ensure trans people can actually use the restrooms that match their identities. It also prohibits cities from passing any law generally protecting LGBT people from discrimination.
Silver said the league will establish an anti-discrimination policy that host sites, including hotels and businesses, will have to abide by. He expects Charlotte will succeed at meeting this requirement and that the game “could be a powerful way to display our values of equality and inclusion.”
This is a rather unbelievable hope; Charlotte repealed its LGBT protections in December in a rigged deal that — unsurprisingly — didn’t lead to HB2’s repeal. The new law (HB 142) expressly prohibits Charlotte from passing any such protections again until 2020, so there’s no way the city will be able to do anything to abide the still-hypothetical protections. The NBA would have to totally fudge the process to claim that each individual venue was doing enough to meet the requirements and then look the other way that discrimination against LGBT people is still totally legal in the state.
Not only does the NBA seem intent on doing just that, they come off as rather smug about their change of heart. Silver patted himself on the back for the NBA helping effect the unnoteworthy change in law:
I’m proud of the league’s stance on opposing HB2 and announcing that we were not going to play the All-Star Game under those circumstances. And I’m also proud that we’re going back. I think we can be a force for change. As I said, I understand that there is a segment of our fan base that believes that the change from HB2 to the new law is not enough, but it is change. It’s incremental change. We were part of the movement, pushing for that change. It’s not everything we could have hoped for, but we’re prepared to go back.
Silver isn’t wrong; there is a segment that believes the change “is not enough.” As Cyd Zeigler phrased it, “The list of LGBT community leaders and organizations opposing this move includes… ALL OF THEM.” This surely isn’t lost on the NBA; NBA.com reprinted the AP article that accurately notes that the many cities that banned municipal travel to North Carolina because of HB2 stood by those bans even after the law changed.
Perhaps the most accurate part of Silver’s statement was when he said, “We were part of the movement.” By rewarding the state for perpetuating discrimination, the NBA confirmed that it is no longer working with the LGBT community to fight for equality in North Carolina.