NEW YORK (AP) — Commissioner Adam Silver believes the NBA has been “crystal clear” that the 2017 All-Star Game only stays in Charlotte if a North Carolina law goes.
Political and business leaders he’s spoken with in the state believe it will, so he’s holding off for now on setting any deadlines for when the NBA might act.
Silver said last week that the law that limits anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay and transgender people was “problematic” for the league, but he believed dialogue was more useful than ultimatums at this point, so has continued discussions with North Carolina officials.
“The sense was that if the NBA could give us some time, they in the community of North Carolina were optimistic they would see a change in the law. They weren’t guaranteeing it and I think which was why my response was the event still is 10 months from now, we don’t need to make a decision yet,” Silver said Thursday during a meeting of Associated Press Sports Editors.
“We’ve been, I think, crystal clear that we believe a change in the law is necessary for us 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 that if the view of the people who were allied with us in terms of a change, if their view, the people on the ground in North Carolina, was that the situation would best be served by us not setting a deadline, we would not set a deadline at this time.”
The North Carolina law directs transgender people to use public toilets corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificate. The law also excludes LGBT people from state anti-discrimination protections, blocks local governments from expanding LGBT protections, and bars all types of workplace discrimination lawsuits from state courts.
Several entertainment acts have already canceled plans for North Carolina but Silver said last week he didn’t think a warning that the NBA could pull the All-Star weekend out would send the proper message, particularly because the league still has the Charlotte Hornets, owned by Michael Jordan, playing there. The Hornets host playoff games this weekend.
All-Star weekend is scheduled for February. Silver said there is no urgency to make a decision because the league could very easily find out which arenas would take on the event if necessary.
Silver does seem ready for action, though, when it comes to Hack-a-Shaq.
Concerned with games dragging on longer than 2 1/2 hours because of parades to the line, Silver said he hopes there will be a change to the rules about intentional fouls away from the ball.
“I think it’s not unanimous but there’s clearly an emerging consensus both among the members of the competition committee and the owners we made a presentation to at last week’s meetings that we need to address the situation,” Silver said.
Silver said last year he was “on the fence” about the tactic, but another year of data has changed his opinion. Silver said when Hack-a-Shaq happens three or more times, it adds approximately 11 minutes to the length of a game. Detroit’s Andre Drummond, one of the league’s worst free throw shooters, was sent to the line for 16 free throws Wednesday by Cleveland – making just four – and the game took so long to finish that the second game of TNT’s playoff doubleheader had to begin on NBA TV.
“Putting aside whether that’s good television or not – I don’t necessarily think it is – that from our national broadcasters’ standpoint it’s become a real business issue when many of our games are dramatically exceeding the 2 1/2-hour window they have set aside in their broadcast schedule,” Silver said.
Senior vice president of operations Kiki VanDeWeghe said there has been “explosion” in what he calls “off-ball deliberate fouls” and noted that when it became popular against Shaquille O’Neal, it came once O’Neal caught the ball, rather than now when the player fouled is often nowhere near the play.
Silver said the use of the strategy increased by 2 1/2 times over last season. One possibility would be extending the rule used in the final 2 minutes, when an intentional foul away from the ball leads to one free throw for any player on the team and the retention of possession, throughout the game.
Silver hopes something could be presented to the owners for a vote during their July meeting. A rules change requires approval by two-thirds of them.
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