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Silver: NBA needs progress on North Carolina law


    NBA commissioner Adam Silver spoke during a news conference before Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Oakland, Calif.

OAKLAND, Calif. >> Adam Silver has steadfastly refused to set any deadlines for when the NBA would decide on moving the 2017 All-Game in Charlotte if a hotly debated North Carolina law hasn’t been changed.

In a way, he did before Game 1 of today’s NBA Finals, even as he said he’s been pleased by the direction of the discussions.

Silver said the NBA would need to see definitive progress toward changing the law by the end of summer to ensure that All-Star weekend remains in Charlotte.

“I don’t see how we would get past this summer without knowing definitively where we stand,” the NBA commissioner said before the Golden State Warriors hosted the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The law excludes lesbian, gay and transgender people from state anti-discrimination protections. It also blocks local governments from expanding LGBT protections, and bars all types of workplace discrimination lawsuits from state courts. The law also directs transgender people to use public toilets corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificate.

Several entertainers have already canceled scheduled appearances in North Carolina because of the law. But Silver said he thinks there have been productive talks about changing it that leave him optimistic the NBA will not have to take a similar approach with its February showcase.

“I think both sides of the issue recognize, however heartfelt their views are, that the current state of being is causing enormous economic damage to the state,” Silver said. “I think they realize that we very much would like to play next year’s All-Star Game in North Carolina, as I’ve said before.”

Silver said he believed that the portion of the law involving bathroom use has overshadowed what, for the league, is the bigger issue of inclusion and diversity. Silver called those “core principles” on which the NBA was founded.

“I think there are other fundamental issues that I think if we can work through with the community to ensure those basic protections are given to the LGBT community,” Silver said. “I think if we can make progress there, we will see you all in Charlotte next February.”

Silver discussed an array of issues in his annual pre-finals media session, including Warriors forward Draymond Green’s propensity for kicking his legs out during drives to the basket, the performance of the officials during a postseason filled with disputed calls, and ongoing discussions on a new collective bargaining agreement.

DRAYMOND’S KICKS: Green has been the subject of scrutiny this postseason for kicking his legs out in the act of shooting, driving to the basket or grabbing rebounds. Most notably, he kicked Oklahoma City center Steven Adams in the groin during the Western Conference finals.

Silver said the league has taken note and the competition committee will look at it this summer to determine if they need to address such actions by Green, and some other players in the league.

“It may be that we have to take a fresh look at that and draw a brighter line in terms of what’s permissible on the court so that we do a better job disincentivizing players from any potential non-basketball move that could result in injuring another competitor,” Silver said.

HACK-A-SHAQ: Silver spoke glowingly about the state of the game and the quality of the product, but did continue his push for changes to eliminate the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy in which teams intentionally foul poor free throw shooters.

“It’s not an attractive part of the game,” Silver said.

EVALUATING THE REFEREES: The performance of officials is always scrutinized in the postseason and Silver endorsed the league’s last 2-Minute Report that reviews all the calls in the final two minutes of close games and publicly announces whether they were correct or not.

“It’s our hope that you take the Last 2-Minute Reports together with using a certain amount of replay that we’re building to build trust and integrity in the league,” Silver said.

He said one team recently approached him about adding a fourth referee to help the crew adapt to the bigger, faster modern game.

DEAL MAKING: The 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement has a clause that allows either the players’ union or ownership to opt out in 2017, and Silver remained optimistic that the two sides could avoid another work stoppage.

“I think there are aspects of the collective bargaining agreement that both sides would like to see addressed, and we’re engaged in constructive discussions over how we can find ways to make the system even better,” he said.

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