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LAS VEGAS — Under NBA commissioner Adam Silver, the league has been forceful and proactive on social issues that were important to its players like gun violence, the Donald Sterling scandal and controversial police and legal cases with the African-American community.
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But relocating the All-Star Game from Charlotte in reaction to North Carolina’s controversial anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender law is wholly uncharted territory for Silver, the NBA and a major professional sports league.
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This was Silver leading, not just responding to public calls from players and owners.
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If anything, many players seemed genuinely torn on whether moving the All-Star Game because of the controversial bill — which has been colloquially oversimplified as a “bathroom bill” — was worth the disappointment of losing the game for Charlotte.
Indiana Pacers Jerseys forward Paul George told ESPN on Thursday, “I’m huge on keeping your word. I’m not necessarily saying it’s bad for the NBA to move it. Charlotte is a growing city and the Hornets have picked that program up. It’s a shame … we’d take that away from them.”
But Silver felt strongly that the cheap NBA could not allow one of its signature public events to take place in a state where there are now no protections against discrimination for LGBT people at places such as restaurants, hotels or in taxis.
Silver explained during his annual news conference during the NBA Finals that “we as a league want to make sure there is an environment where the LGBT community feels protected down in North Carolina. At the same time, I think the bathroom issue discount nba jerseys, frankly, has become a little bit of a distraction. From the very beginning, that was not the core issue here. It was protection for the LGBT community in terms of economic rights, personal rights, and the bathroom bill became part of it.”
Many players expressed disappointment for Hornets owner Michael Jordan, who had been thrilled when Charlotte was chosen as host of the 2017 All-Star Game. AP Photo/Chuck Burton
Sources told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that openly gay Golden State Warriors Jerseys president Rick Welts made an impassioned plea to the NBA’s owners at last week’s Board of Governors meeting to explain how discriminatory this particular law was to the LGBT community.
Still, the decision to relocate the game Thursday came as a shock to many NBA players.
Toronto Raptors Jerseys wholesale guard Kyle Lowry learned of the NBA’s decision when he got an alert on his cellphone before Team USA’s practice. “Oh wow, they moved it,” Lowry said, as he held his phone out to show Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes.
Barnes said he felt like it was important to choose the political causes that resonate personally with you, and not to jump into the fray on every controversial issue he was asked about.
“Now that we’re able to speak out on issues, there’s no real standard about what you have to say,” Barnes said. “I think you can talk about whatever is on your mind or in your heart. Other issues you can’t.
“I think you kind of lose some credibility if all of a sudden on social media, you may not know what you’re talking about but you’re just weighing in on everything.” –>
Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony told ESPN that the players “didn’t think it was going to get to this” and that he was disappointed for Hornets owner Michael Jordan and the city of Charlotte because the game was “definitely going to boost everything.”
Anthony, of course, has been one of the most vocal players in trying to raise awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement. In addition to the call to action he posted on Instagram and the speech he, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and LeBron James made at the ESPYs, Anthony has been organizing a meeting in Los Angeles on Monday to discuss sensitive racial and cultural issues.
Anthony has been warned by advisers that such a public forum could begin with good intentions but end with uncomfortable consequences once people begin speaking freely on emotional, controversial issues. He said Thursday he would press on with the conversation anyway. “I won’t listen to anybody that tells me I shouldn’t do this or shouldn’t do that,” Anthony said.
“Right now, the players and people have a very strong stance on what’s going on and what they believe in,” Anthony said of his activism in response to recent incidents between police officers and African-Americans. “The problem is, people don’t have answers. I think everybody is searching for answers. People are searching for what to do and how to do it. We’re not going to find answers overnight. It’s not going to happen. It’s following through with the message I have out there and continuing that conversation.”
This is the next step now that players have started to venture out from beyond the safety of hashtag activism on social media. And maybe that was the point of Silver’s decision to relocate the game Thursday without knowing he had a full buy-in from his players and owners. Take some time. Think, research, learn, then speak publicly if you feel compelled. Not everyone will agree. Not everyone will like what is said. But this door is wide open now, and there’s probably no closing it.
It’s the risk Silver assumed when he made the decision to relocate the All-Star Game. In the end, he decided to do it anyway, trusting that his players and owners will understand Silver’s decision to wade into social activism and say no to discrimination by pulling the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte.
Kevin Durant declined comment when first asked by ESPN about the NBA’s decision after Team USA’s practice. He said he needed some time to think about it and study it.
During the next few hours, that’s what he did. One person close to the situation told him about Welts’ personal experiences as a gay man in the NBA. Durant read one of the many articles that have been written on Welts throughout the years.
After a few hours, he composed his thoughts on Twitter.
“I recognize this was a tough decision for the NBA but respect the choice,” Durant wrote. “Discrimination of any kind cannot be allowed.”