Adam Silver: State laws 'important factor' in deciding future All-Star hosts

NEW ORLEANS -- NBA commissioner Adam Silver put Texas and any other state considering legislation similar to North Carolina's controversial "bathroom bill" on "notice" while also making it clear that the recent travel ban has posed a "concern" and clashes with what the NBA represents.

Under the proposed Texas legislation, people would be required to use bathrooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate. Silver is monitoring the situation and said the NBA would keep its marquee events away from states with similar measures to North Carolina's HB2 law.

Silver and the NBA moved this year's All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans due to the North Carolina law, which limits anti-discrimination protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

"I mean, I'm not ready to stand here today and say that that is the bright line test for whether or not we will play All-Star Games in Texas," Silver said at his annual state of the NBA address at All-Star Weekend. "[But] it's something we're, of course, going to monitor very closely. What we've stated is that our values, our league-wide values in terms of equality and inclusion are paramount to this league and all the members of the NBA family, and I think those jurisdictions that are considering legislation similar to HB2 are on notice that that is an important factor for us. Those values are an important factor for us in deciding where we take a special event like an All-Star Game."

The NFL, which just held the Super Bowl in Houston, said recently that state laws that conflict with its commitment to be inclusive could factor into where it holds future Super Bowls.

Another political issue that could be problematic for the NBA is President Trump's recent executive order banning travel of citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations that was imposed on Jan. 27.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit rejected and maintained a freeze on the controversial immigration order. Homeland Security Sec. John Kelly said on Saturday that the Trump administration is considering a more "streamlined" version of the executive order banning travel for citizens of those seven Muslim-majority nations.

"I do have concern about travel bans," Silver said. "I don't have access to the same intelligence obviously or security information that people in the government do. But we are a business based on global mobility. Twenty-five percent of our players were born outside of the United States. We do a tremendous amount of business on a global basis, and if you think about what the NBA stands for, it's, in essence, the very best all coming together, the very best in the world all coming together to perform at the highest level.

"So government restrictions on travel, I am concerned about," Silver continued. "It goes against the fundamental values and the fundamental ingredients of what make for a great NBA, and that is the very best in the world coming here."

Silver noted that with the travel ban having been "struck down by the court," he had nothing more to add to that ruling. But he said the NBA is concerned and watching out for league members, in particular theMilwaukee Bucks' Thon Maker and theLos Angeles Lakers' Luol Deng. Both Maker and Deng were born in Sudan, one of the countries on the travel ban list, but have dual citizenship. Maker has Australian citizenship while Deng is a British citizen.

NBA teams and employees travel internationally to Canada, Europe and Asia annually for games during the preseason and regular season.

"We have two NBA players that were born in the Sudan," Silver said. "So my personal view is that we need to look sort of at specific cases and see how that potentially could impact members of the NBA family and then play whatever role we can in providing information to the government and monitoring the situation."

As far as the All-Star Game is concerned, Silver said he has had discussions about bringing the All-Star Game back to North Carolina with its new Gov. Roy Cooper, who won the election in November. Cooper has said he needs the law to be repealed by the end of February to prevent the state from being shut out from hosting NCAA championship events through 2022.

"We're not involved directly with legislatures," Silver said. "I have talked to Governor Cooper, the new governor of North Carolina since he was elected, really to express our desire to return to North Carolina next year [2019] for our All-Star Game. We have a team in North Carolina. We have a development team, soon to be a G-League team, in North Carolina. And 20 other teams will visit North Carolina this season. So we'd very much like to get back there."
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