NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley was among the first league insiders to suggest that the NBA move the 2017 NBA All-Star Game out of North Carolina as a penalty for passage of the state’s much-maligned HB2 bill. The bill is widely considered discriminatory against people in the LGBT community. Barkley said, in part: “I think the NBA should move the All-Star game from there next year. As a black person, I’m against any form of discrimination — against whites, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, however you want to phrase it.”
Pressure on the NBA isn’t just coming from its own players and insiders. A group of U.S. Senators including Oregon’s Jeff Merkley — who just became the first Senator to publicly back Bernie Sanders for president — has written a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver urging the NBA to act. Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Patty Murray (D-WA) signed the letter — joining Barkley and others, including Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy, in calling on the league to act.