(Just emailed this off to the NBA)
To: Adam Silver, Commissioner, National Basketball Association
Hanging in my closet is a 1960s era replica Wilt Chamberlain Lakers jersey; I fondly remember, from my childhood, not just Wilt, whom I idolized, and the other Lakers superstars, but players such as Zelmo Beaty and Sweet Lou Hudson, Jerry Sloan and Chet Walker and dozens of others. As a 10-year old, I could have named the starting lineups of every team in the league. I cajoled my parents to take me to an open Lakers *practice*, for crying out loud!
When I moved to the Bay Area 30+ years ago, I got hooked on the Warriors, and have been fortunate enough to have seen in person Sleepy Floyd, Mitch Richmond, Chris Webber, Mullin, Bol, Sampson, on down to the current most excellent team. I’ve brought my kids to games, bought them gear. My teenage daughter, like millions of others, is a huge Curry fan. I’ve even brought customers from my company to Warriors games because why not? Greatest show in town. I own Warriors *socks*.
I’m telling you all this to let you know that I’m a real fan, the kind that passes the game on to his kids and spreads the joy that basketball played at the highest level can bring. NBA basketball. Accept no substitutes.
Bu as of today, the start of a new season, no more. No more games, no more gear, not anything that will send a dime the NBA’s way. To sum up the reasons:
China, as is well known, holds tens of thousands of political prisoners, people denied freedom because they disagree with their government. These political prisoners are also routinely murdered for their organs – this is well-documented. Further, the government that had tanks run over peaceful protesters is the one still in power.
These are only the most egregious crimes committed by the Chinese government against its own citizens. Yet, the NBA thinks and says it’s perfectly OK to do business in China, even though there is in practice no way to do business in China without doing business with the Chinese government – that’s the way totalitarian governments work.
I have overlooked this for years on the theory that doing business with China may actually strengthen the position of the more Western-looking factions there. Something like that.
However, once you personally and the NBA officially decided that North Carolina, for the crime of (I read the damn document and I would assume you, as a lawyer, read it as well) restricting school and public bathrooms and locker rooms for the use of those for whose sex they were designated was far too evil for the NBA to do business with, I was done.
To sum up: China routinely arrests and murders innocent people – good to go, let’s play ball! North Carolina passes a law saying that I, for example, can’t use the same public rest room or dressing room as Steph Curry’s daughters even if I say I’m really a woman – is outrage! Must be punished! China: murder. North Carolina: might hurt somebody’s feelings, provided they decide in advance to have their feelings hurt.
And – the law only applies to *public* facilities – you want to run a private health club or bar or whatever, have at it! Do whatever you want.
Note that I’ve lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for the last 30+ years, and am thus very familiar with gay-alphabet-soup rights activists and their methods. One thing is to dismiss the possibility that the policies they favor will be abused – in fact, one is conclusively presumed to be evil if one even raises the subject – while downplaying both the obvious work-arounds on the one hand and the microscopic numbers of people who might even in theory be benefited on the other. In other words, simply noting that there are more child molesters than ‘transgender’ children is considered an act of oppression or bigotry or whatever Newspeak anathemas they are hurling this week. That the people of North Carolina might have a legitimate concern is a thought that simply cannot be allowed by certain self-identified open-minded people. Hmmm.
Whether you personally believe North Carolina is beyond the pale for potentially inconveniencing .01% or so of the population while China is cuddly-wuddly despite imprisoning and murdering thousands of innocents is immaterial at this point. Fortunately, I have many wonderful ways to spend my entertainment dollars. I’ll probably miss the NBA, and have to work a little harder to come up with Christmas gifts going forward. And, hey, I’m probably an outlier – how much business can you lose to guys like me? Probably not enough to make a ripple.
But there is one thing you do have to worry about: the demands will never stop. There is no final victory after which everybody goes home happy. The people you are caving to now will not be happy – they are already planning the next step. One thing on the table is the denial of sexual differences. What do you do when some guy who says he’s a gal wants to play in the WNBA? It’s going to happen, if it hasn’t already. How will it work out when the pressure is on the NBA (I’d bet it’s on already, in the normalize the concept phase) to stop discriminating against women athletes, to put them on the court with the men? You and I both know that Brittney Griner, for example, while a spectacular athlete, wouldn’t last 5 minutes against an excellent boy’s high school team, let alone an NBA team – because (I hope you’re sitting down) boys and girls are different.
And the fans know it. The next challenge for your new friends is to mess with the on-court product. That’s what you need to worry about.