Sunday, 15 January 2017

Charlotte's Loss

Very rarely do we see a city lose their chance at an All Star game or special event game without there being a players strike or lock out. Detroit lost the 2013 Winter Classic due to the most recent NHL Lockout, Columbus lost the 2013 All Star Game for the same reason. Atlanta lost the 2005 NHL All Star game, and the Montréal Expos lost the entire 1994 World Series. However, aside from the Expos, all these teams got their games as soon as possible, with the 2014 Winter Classic being held in Detroit, the 2015 NHL All Star game being held in Columbus, and the 2008 All Star game being held in Atlanta. However this year, we saw a league take action against a political opponent, and pull the 2017 NBA All Star Game from Charlotte due to the controversial "Bathroom Bill".

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Of course this bill is highly controversial, and with good reason, not just on the part about baring transgender people from using bathrooms they identify with (such as being discriminated against in hiring practices) and this bill clearly needs to be highly and rationally debated. The governor of North Carolina who signed it, in recent months has done nothing but double down and hold strong to it. The NBA threatened to pull the game if the bill wasn't repealed, costing the state and city at least $100M in tourism dollars, and wasting the efforts of the design teams making the gorgeous logo and likely gorgeous jerseys that would have come. However, the question becomes, was this the right move? In my opinion, NO!!!

The Charlotte Hornets are not connected in anyway to the North Carolina government, they are a private organization, owned by NBA legend Michael Jordan, who recently donated $2 million to mend police & citizen relationships in communities across America. Jordan is not a supporter of this bill, and to my knowledge has said little about it. He's a stand up community leader and a PR dream for the NBA. If the Hornets owner had come out and supported the bill, I would be a little more supportive of the revoking of the ASG in the same way I was of Donald Sterling being banned from the NBA. However, that isn't the case.

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Charlotte hasn't hosted the game since the original Hornets did so in 1991. 25 years later the people of Charlotte finally get to enjoy the thrill of the Slam Dunk competition, 3 point competition and yes the glorified Globetrotters game. Sure it would have made a lot of money for the state that passed the bill, but at the same time, the Hornets have absolutely no real power in getting that bill repealed. Sure they could come out against it but with all the public backlash coming out against it from celebrities and politicians as well as the general public, it likely would have done little to help. The association is punishing a team for something the place their city happens to reside in and something they had no control over happened the league didn't like on a PR level, which doesn't seem right.

If Adam Silver really wanted to send the message that the NBA doesn't stand with this, why not say so by hosting the game and making a statement with it. Why not go into North Carolina and say "This is a discriminatory bill and doesn't reflect the values of the league and stands against it".  Instead the league will hastily move the game to another city and give Charlotte another chance in a couple years...which is funny because who's to say the bill will be gone by then. If anything, it sounds like the NBA is hoping this will blow over and they can run the game there without the public backlash that wasn't there to begin with. To my knowledge there weren't protests against the league holding the game there, more so this seems to be preventative move on the part of Adam Silver to keep those who would complain quiet. After the Donald Sterling incident (which was directly basketball and business related mind you), it would make sense Adam Silver would want to deal with controversy quickly before another media circus happens. The buzzfeed complain brigade would complain about it no matter what, and they are not in any way shape or form likely basketball fans..but again...buesines

This bill is discriminatory, and the vast majority of those in the minority that is the transgender community simply want to use the washroom they identify with, it's like The Kinks said "girls will be boys and boys will be girls" and those who are deserve to be treated like everyone else, with decency. Bad people will do bad things regardless of whether they've transitioned or not and last I checked being a peeping tom/tina is already illegal. That being said, this does not involve nor should involve the NBA. Some may say it is good the NBA is socially involved, but when it affects business in such a way, screw it. There are ways to show your distain for the bill with punishing the Hornets fans who have waited since 1991 to see an NBA ASG and lose money. It's a short sighted plan that will lose money and support for a improbable cheap PR gain in the present.

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Think about it, the NBA has played games in China, a country with a censor happy and oppressive regime.... no one boycotted that. Why? It was because by doing so the league doesn't automatically approve of government censorship of criticism, after all, this post and my previous post on the competitiveness in the NBA weren't pulled by the NBA-Statsi. They did it because one of the top players in the league at the time, Yao Ming, was a superstar in the Chinese market and it would make money. The same thing would happen in Charlotte: a young team owned by the best player in basketball history who recently regained their classic name after painful years being called the Bobcats. They were within a game of winning the Southeast division this year. It would have been a fantastic business move. Instead, the Hornets will have to wait until at least 2018 for their next shot at the weekend festivities, while another large market like Los Angeles gets a yet another ASG.

If the NBA wanted to move the game, it should have left it to a GM vote.

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