With news that the NBA All-Star game will be moving out of Charlotte and to another destination, the league has put itself in the middle of an arena many companies look to avoid — the political arena. It doesn’t matter which side you are on when it comes to HB2, the NBA has made a choice to stand for what it believes in. That decision does not come lightly. For as many people that applaud the NBA’s decision, there will be another group ready to criticize a sports league for trying to force political change as a corporation. The thing people need to realize is that the NBA probably didn’t make this choice by themselves. This isn’t the league going rogue. It is a decision that had to be discussed — and eventually backed — by media partners and sponsors.
Nothing happens in the world of sports in a vacuum. There are countless stakeholders that need to be taken into account before a decision of this magnitude is executed. That means owners, Turner, Coca-Cola, Adidas, Nike, State Farm, and Anheuser-Busch all were told what was going to happen. It means Michael Jordan and Charlotte ownership was consulted before a decision was made. It means that a lot more companies and people were involved than just Adam Silver and the NBA.
This is the open market and capitalism at its finest. The NBA disagreed with HB2 and instead of just making statements like some other sports, the league actually voted with its dollars. It moved because the NBA has a culture of inclusiveness. Not moving would have gone against the league’s mission statement and made its warnings to North Carolina lawmakers empty threats. The league has the power to act as a catalyst for social change and it did so.
That will alienate some fans, but everyone involved — NBA, partners, sponsors etc. — took a look at the situation and decided it was something worth doing. That could have been for social change. It could have been for the bottom line. It also could have been to avoid protests and bad press if the game was held in Charlotte. It is much easier to move the game than have to deal with bad press for months heading up to the league’s celebration weekend. It’s much easier for sponsors if the NBA bears the brunt of the decision. Many sponsors have come out in support of the choice to move the game — Turner, ESPN, and Nike to name a few — but the focus is on the NBA making the final choice.
Nothing is accomplished in the sports world unless there is enough buy-in from stakeholders where the decision makes sense. This probably wasn’t a strictly NBA decision. It is more probable than not everyone involved in the game had a hand in the choice that was made.