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NBA Commissioner: League Will Keep Eye on States’ Inclusion Policies

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Press Conference
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on April 29, 2014 in New York City. Elsa / Getty Images

NEW ORLEANS — The NBA is continuing to monitor how states are handling laws regarding the protections of transgender people, with Commissioner Adam Silver warning that any less-than-inclusive policies will help the league decide where to hold All-Star Games going forward.

Silver, in his annual state-of-the-league address at All-Star Saturday night, said he has spoken with North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper — whose state was originally set to host this All-Star weekend — about the controversial and divisive HB2 law, one that the recently elected Cooper has said he wants repealed.

And for other states considering similar measures, Silver said the NBA will watch them as well.

"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," Silver said. "Those values are an important factor for us in deciding where we take a special event like an All-Star Game."

Texas is considering a bill that would be similar to HB2. Its version is known as SB6, with top Republicans in that state recently unveiling a proposal that would ban transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice.

It is one of many issues drawing the attention of both the league and its players, with many NBA stars — including LeBron James — speaking out repeatedly of late about the need for equality in society. And Silver, while not going as far to say that considering such a law would keep Texas from being considered for All-Star events in the future, made clear that the NBA is watching.

Next year's All-Star weekend is in Los Angeles. Texas last hosted an All-Star weekend in 2013.

"I'm not ready to draw bright lines," Silver said. "Clearly, though, the laws of the state, ordinances, and cities are a factor we look at in deciding where to play our All-Star Games."

Silver also addressed another particularly divisive issue facing the country these days, the executive order signed by President Donald Trump that bans travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Saturday that Trump is working on a "streamlined" version of that order, and that the administration was surprised when U.S. courts blocked the original from implementation.

One of the seven nations affected by the order is Sudan, the homeland of NBA players Luol Deng and Thon Maker.

"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 said.

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