The former governor of North Carolina slammed the NBA and commissioner Adam Silver on Tuesday over the way the league has handled the firestorm over a general manager’s pro-Hong Kong tweet.
Pat McCrory was the Republican governor at the time when North Carolina was receiving criticism over a 2016 law allowing people to only use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender listed on their birth certificate rather than the sex they identify with. The law was viewed as discriminatory against the LGBTQ community.
The NBA came down hard on the state and removed the planned 2017 NBA All-Star Game from Charlotte as punishment for the so-called "bathroom bill." The city was then re-awarded the 2019 NBA All-Star Game after the state repealed the bill in March 2017.
While the NBA has put on a balancing act over Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet and the consequences stemming from it, McCrory told the Charlotte Observer that it is hypocritical for the NBA to meet some kind of middle ground with China while failing to do so in 2016 with his state.
“I see hypocrisy,” McCrory told the newspaper. “They wanted to involve themselves with North Carolina commerce and an election, while not setting the same standard for China.”
He added: “I called them out then [when the All-Star Game was moved], and it’s still true now.”
McCroy said he doesn’t believe the NBA’s decision to nix the All-Star Game from Charlotte was more of a business decision than one based on principles.
“They were losing some sponsorships; they told me that flat-out on the phone,” he told the newspaper, adding that the lukewarm response to China’s outrage was about protecting the NBA as a major market in the communist country. He also said he told Silver in 2016 that the NBA had failed to sanction China over the way it rules.
McCrory lost the governor race to Democrat Roy Cooper by 0.2 percentage points in 2016.
Silver has attempted to dampen the firestorm in China over the tweet from Morey, which read: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”
Silver said in a statement Tuesday the league “will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues.”
“It is inevitable that people around the world – including from America and China – will have different viewpoints over different issues,” Silver said in the statement. “It is not the role of the NBA to adjudicate those differences.”
Silver added: “This is about far more than growing our business ...Values of equality, respect, and freedom of expression have long defined the NBA -- and will continue to do so. As an American-based basketball league operating globally, among our greatest contributions are these values of the game.”
However, China has already canceled two NBA Cares events and the league has postponed a media availability with the players.
It’s unclear whether the game will still take place this week.