Here’s what the NBA commissioner hopes for when Charlotte hosts the All-Star Game

Here’s what the NBA commissioner hopes for when Charlotte hosts the All-Star Game

CHARLOTTE, NC (Mike Reader/Charlotte Observer) - The NBA commissioner last week defended the league's decision to return the All-Star Game to Charlotte and said he hoped that the event could set an example that would lead to more protection against discrimination for LGBTQ individuals.

House Bill 2, the controversial LGBTQ bill, prompted the NBA to move its 2017 All-Star weekend from Charlotte to New Orleans.

Though critics have said the compromise that North Carolina lawmakers reached in March to replace controversial House Bill 2 did not go far enough, the NBA decided last month to return the game to Charlotte for 2019.

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"We had said to the legislative leaders that we will consider coming back in 2019, if you change the law," David Silver told reporters Thursday in Oakland, Calif.

Asked if the law was changed sufficiently, Silver answered, "The law was changed.... They made incremental progress. And I felt, in part ... there is a role that the league can play in demonstrating what equality looks like to a community."

By taking the All-Star weekend back to Charlotte, Silver said the league can set an example for North Carolina.

"We can ... go in and say 'this is what it looks like, to operate ... under a set of egalitarian principles. And this is what it looks like to be non-discriminatory,' in this case, against the LGBTQ community," Silver told reporters. "My hope is by setting that example, we can unify people. And that the state will follow."

Silver made his remarks in a question-and-answer session before Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers.

The league and other organizations had denounced HB2 as discriminatory against LGBT individuals. Dubbed the "bathroom bill," HB2 included a requirement that required transgender individuals to use public restrooms that matched the sex listed on their birth certificates.

In March, Gov. Roy Cooper signed a compromise bill, House Bill 142, replacing HB2 but preventing local governments from passing anti-discrimination ordinances for three years. Many argued that the measure doesn't go far enough in addressing non-discrimination – the state still doesn't have any non-discrimination policies that protect the LGBTQ community.

Silver said that some progress is better than none.

"I respect those who feel we may have made the wrong decision, but I disagree factually for those who say that the change in the law was not an improvement, or some even said was worse," Silver said. "The fact is that under the change in law in North Carolina, birth certificates were no longer required to use restrooms. And it also permitted us to take our All-Star Game to Charlotte and set a set of rules, a set of principles in which we were going to operate under in that state.

"Again ... these are close calls for the league. But I think ultimately ... what's that expression ... that sport imitates life? I think sometimes that life can imitate sport."