Last week it was announced that the NBA was removing the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, NC. The move was in response to the controversial HB2 ordinance, more commonly referred to as the “Bathroom Bill.” Journalists everywhere ran wild with joy, trying to see who could write the article with the most effusive praise for NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. This appears to be nothing more than a ploy to garner political points by Silver. Silver issued statements in which he did little more than blow hot air, throwing around nice-sounding terms like “constructive dialogue” and “diversity, inclusion and fairness.” But what he fails to mention is that the NBA is perfectly happy to play several other games in places with horribly long track records of real human rights abuses.
First and foremost the “Bathroom Bill” is one of the most manufactured controversies of all-time. Nobody was confused about what bathroom to use and there wasn’t anybody checking to make sure people were using the correct bathroom. But then the city of Charlotte felt it needed to score political points and passed a law making sure people could continue to use the bathroom they had always used. Then the state of North Carolina felt it needed to score political points and passed a law in response the city of Charlotte’s law, once again making sure people used the bathroom they had always used. But then the so called social justice warriors came flocking out of the woodwork and every remotely famous person decided not to go to North Carolina to take a stand and show how inclusive they were. The NBA wants to be on this list, so they took a fake stand on an issue that affects less than half of a percent of the US population.
While the NBA is taking such a strong stance on a fake issue that does no harm or foul to anybody, they are more than happy to continue to play games in China and Mexico. The Houston Rockets and the New Orleans Pelicans will play two games against each other in China in October. China has possibly one of the world’s worst human rights records with laws against having more than one child, horrific working conditions (in which the NBA and many other professional leagues have the majority of its jerseys made) and imprisoning and executing people with differing political opinions. But the NBA stands to make a ton of money in international TV rights fees and of course will sell lots of jerseys and tickets for these games, so it’s ok that China has human rights abuses. In January, the NBA will have the Phoenix Suns play games against the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs in Mexico City. Mexico of course, has its share of human rights abuses, which include horrific working conditions, gruesome drug related murders and numerous instances of drug related, government corruption. But again, the NBA stands to make a ton of money by expanding their league into the vast untapped market that is Mexico. A big reason why NBA teams occasionally wear jerseys in Spanish is to appeal to Spanish-speaking people, both in the US and abroad.
In the end Adam Silver is moving the All-Star game because he wants to score political points, though one would think he had enough of them stored up after he got rid of former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Moving the All-Star game does not cost the NBA anything because no matter where it is played, it will sell out and people will watch it on TV. He took a fake stand because it was expedient to do so and does not stand to lose any money over it. If you look at it, Silver is mostly just talk. The only thing he’s actually done since becoming NBA commissioner is to score political points (getting rid of Sterling and moving the All-Star game). The greatest irony in all of this is the NBA is moving the All-Star game out of Charlotte because the state is targeting a minority, when in reality this all started because Charlotte wanted to be more inclusive. The NBA is taking a fake stand is and is showing itself to be highly hypocritical.