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Silver: NBA must move all-star game if no change to controversial North Carolina law

Adam Silver. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

NEW YORK – NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday that if the league is to keep the 2017 all-star game in Charlotte it will require a change in the controversial North Carolina law passed last month that overturned protections for gay and transgender people.

“We’ve been, I think, crystal clear, that a change in the law is necessary 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 if the view of the people who were allied with us, in terms of a change, the view of the people on the ground in North Carolina was that the situation would best be served by us not setting a deadline, then we would not set a deadline at this time,” Silver said during a meeting with the Associated Press Sports Editors at the league’s headquarters in midtown Manhattan.

This was the first time that Silver had insinuated that if there are no changes to the law, which requires transgender individuals to use public restrooms that correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificates, the league would be unable to hold the game there. On multiple occasions during his press conference here last week at the conclusion of the league’s Board of Governors meetings, Silver simply said he was unwilling to offer up a timeline for a decision to be made on moving the game.

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“The law, as it now stands in North Carolina, is problematic for the league,” Silver said last week. “There was no discussion [among owners] of moving the All-Star Game. What the view in the room was [was that] we should be working toward change in North Carolina.

“The league believes that these groups need to be protected, but again, I think the right way to work to the proper resolution here is for the league to remain engaged in the conversation, rather than setting ultimatums or announcing we’re not going to play our all-star game in Charlotte.”

Throughout his press conference last week, as well as during Thursday’s interview session, Silver stressed he doesn’t want to set a timeline for a decision, and would rather allow the process to play out in a way that will result in the law changing and allow the game to go on as scheduled.

But in declining to set a timeline Thursday, Silver also made it clear the league is monitoring its options in the event a decision to move the game must be made, and said logistics won’t be a factor in delaying a decision on whether to move the game or not.

“We haven’t set a date only because we think we can be most helpful to the process in North Carolina by not setting ultimatums,” he said. “But what we’ve said, and I’ve been in touch, without being specific, with several different elected officials in North Carolina, and a consortium of business leaders, and the sense was that if the NBA could give us some time, the community in North Carolina were optimistic they would see a change in the law. They weren’t guaranteeing it, and my response was, the event still is 10 months from now, and we don’t need to make a decision yet.”