One week after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver clarified the league's willingness to move the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte if North Carolina legislators do not overturn a controversial new state law that reverses a Charlotte ordinance that had expanded rights and protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan said Tuesday that his franchise remains "opposed to discrimination in any form."
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“As my organization has stated previously, the Charlotte Hornets and Hornets Sports & Entertainment are opposed to discrimination in any form, and we have always sought to provide an inclusive environment,” Jordan said in a statement to the Observer in response to an interview request regarding HB2, the North Carolina law called by some as discriminatory toward the LGBT community.
“As has been the case since the building opened, we will continue to ensure that all fans, players and employees feel welcome while at work or attending NBA games and events at Time Warner Cable Arena.”
If Jordan's statement sounds familiar, it's probably because it's the same one the Hornets organization tendered last month after the passing of House Bill 2:
The Charlotte Hornets have issued the following statement: pic.twitter.com/5IOzSjjncM
— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) March 25, 2016
... which might not be strong enough for some fans, and might be too strong for others, and either way seems to communicate Jordan's approach to the matter: that he'll speak through the organization rather than offering significant separate or extemporaneous thoughts on it. (Which is totally fair.)
Much of the national attention paid to House Bill 2 has focused on its removal of a Charlotte city ordinance that allowed members of the transgender community to use the public restroom that aligns with the gender with which they identity rather than the gender listed on their birth certificates. As was previously noted by the Observer, though, the reach of HB2 stretches beyond that restriction:
The state has long had laws regulating workplace discrimination, use of public accommodations, minimum wage standards and other business issues. The new law [...] makes it illegal for cities to expand upon those state laws, as more than a dozen cities had done including Charlotte, Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham.
North Carolina’s new law sets a statewide definition of classes of people who are protected against discrimination: race, religion, color, national origin, age, handicap or biological sex as designated on a person’s birth certificate. Sexual orientation – people who are gay – was never explicitly protected under state law and is not now, despite recent court decisions that legalized same-sex marriage. [...]
Does HB2 affect rights of people who aren’t gay or transgender?
Yes. The law limits how people pursue claims of discrimination because of race, religion, color, national origin, biological sex or handicap in state courts. The law also means a city or county cannot set a minimum wage standard for private employers.
HB2's introduction and quick signing into law by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory raised concerns from a wide variety of constituencies and organizations ... including the NBA, which issued a statement saying the league is "deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect and do not yet know what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte."
A couple of weeks ago, Silver offered a somewhat more tempered view, describing HB2 as "problematic for the league" and saying that "the message is not that somehow the current state of affairs is OK for the league," but also saying that "there was no discussion of moving the All-Star Game" and that he's "very sensitive to this notion that someone who's very much an outsider to North Carolina or [a] league is trying to dictate what the societal norms should be in North Carolina."
Last week, though, Silver clarified the league's position that the NBA believes the law must be changed for the 2017 All-Star Game to be held in Charlotte: "We've been, I think, crystal clear that we believe a change in the law is necessary for us to play in the kind of environment that we think is appropriate for a celebratory NBA event, but that we did have some time and that if the view of the people who were allied with us in terms of a change, if their view, the people on the ground in North Carolina, was that the situation would best be served by us not setting a deadline, we would not set a deadline at this time."
One major consideration in the league's messaging throughout this process has been the potential impact of making hard-line statements, or issuing ultimatums, on the continued operation of the Hornets franchise. To that end, the words and views expressed by Jordan — obviously the most visible of the NBA's owners, and still the most famous basketball-related person in the world, nearly 15 years after his retirement — carry significant weight ... even if they're not necessarily communicating radical stances, or even really new information.
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