CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When NBA commissioner Adam Silver took the podium for the first time during All-Star Weekend, he was gracious.
The city of Charlotte, hotel and restaurant workers, and police were thanked for their hospitality. The Hornets team and staff, especially owner Michael Jordan, received accolades for working tirelessly to bring the event to the Queen City.
"It was something that years ago he (Jordan) came and he spoke to his fellow team owners and talked about how important it was to him to bring All-Star to his home state of North Carolina, and, of course, finally we're here," Silver said.
Then Silver took a few minutes to talk about "the bumps in the road" -- why the All-Star Game did not come to Charlotte in 2017 as scheduled and how everything was able to come full circle in 2019.
"A law was passed in North Carolina called HB2 which, in the view of the league office and many others, discriminated against the LGBTQ community," he said. "We then made a decision that it was inconsistent with the values of this league to play the All-Star Game here under those circumstances."
You may remember HB2 was a controversial law signed under then-Governor Pat McCrory that caused a harsh backlash from businesses and activists throughout the Tar Heel State and the country.
"With strong support from Michael Jordan and Fred Whitfield and others in the organization, they began an effort with the city and the state to repeal that law," Silver said. "And ultimately, I’d say in true North Carolina fashion, people came together and did change that law."
Lawmakers later approved a replacement law, House Bill 142, which aimed to advance protections for LGBT workers in the state that were lost under HB2.
"For many people, it didn’t go far enough, and I am sympathetic to those who feel there are still not appropriate protections for the LGBTQ community," said Silver. "But I also felt from a league standpoint that it was important as part of our core values to work with people and ultimately move forward with the community."
Before moving on to questions, Silver wrapped up by advocating how sports can be used to bring people together and focus on important issues.
"There’s an opportunity when it comes to the issue of gender identity for the league to play a role in bringing people together, and demonstrating through our own actions why principles like tolerance, inclusion, and equality are critically important to how we operate as a sport and how we should live as a society."