Dear Adam Silver,
Grandma always told me that, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression."
And man-oh-manischewitz was your first impression a doozy.
I remember when you stepped directly into the shoes of the greatest commissioner in the history of professional sports, David Stern. On your first days in office, you kicked ass like Jim Kelly in Black Belt Jones!
Remember that bigoted miscreant named Donald Sterling, the sexually transmitted disease and notorious slumlord billionaire that had long-owned the Los Angeles Clippers?
He's one of the few blemishes on your predecessor's resume, that guy that the league seemed ambivalent towards, despite his well-known racist tendencies, sort of like the Catholic Church that had once systematically protected abusive priests.
But when he tried to come at the one man most responsible, prior to Jordan, for carrying our beautiful game toward its current magnitude, Magic Johnson, you basically said, "What's up, what's up? How you wanna carry it???"
(Photo Credit: USA Today)
Well, you put a stop to that within months of taking the reins, basically saying, "[K]Not Today!!!" He tried to challenge you with lawsuits, with his financial muscle, with all that he could muster.
You came rumbling through the function like Inspectah Deck on Above The Clouds when Sterling's mental midgetry, racism, dogmatism and supremacism could no longer be ignored. You took him out, like Michael Corleone did Sollozzo and McCluskey in 1946 at the Louis Restaurant in The Bronx.
And I pictured you telling your friends, confidants and lieutenants, with the steely resolve of Master Sergeant Vernon Waters, as you sat around a fancy dinner table, "And when we slit his throat, you know that fool asked us what he had done wrong?"
Well, Commissioner, sir, I have to ask, where is that dude now?
Because we need the same guy that forced Sterling to sell his franchise, the same guy that was exalted for navigating the league through a public relations crisis with his deft hand, to don the gloves and step back into the ring.
You need to slip in, connect, and dip out like the great Pernell Whitaker when taking on this latest nefarious foe, the North Carolina law that limits protections for LGBT individuals.
“The current state of the law is problematic for the league. But we’re not making any announcements now,” you said recently after the league’s board of governors meetings in New York. “We can be most constructive by working with elected officials to effect change.”
Nah, son! You can be most constructive by taking the 2017 All-Star game out of North Carolina, along with the projected $100 million that it will inject into the local economy. Take it like Debo took Red's chain!
“Sports can be used as a constructive force to bring people together," you said. "Ultimately our interest is in conducting a successful All-Star Game in North Carolina and having a team that can play there in a nondiscriminatory environment."
You know how to make that happen, Commissioner?
Let the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce feel that pain. Let the bigots who run North Carolina feel the wrath of the innocent vendors, business and individuals who will be hurt by pulling the game and placing it elsewhere, in a environment that's not hiding behind the guise of religion to exact an antiquated agenda fueled by discrimination.
Six U.S. Senators, including a Republican, asked the NBA to move the game out of the state.
The letter, signed by Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois and five Democrats: Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, said “We hold no ill-will towards the people of Charlotte, who passed an anti-discrimination measure that HB2 overturned, or towards the people of North Carolina. However, we cannot condone nor stand idly by as North Carolina moves to legalize and institutionalize discrimination against the LGBT community. Nor should the NBA allow its premier annual event to be hosted in such a state. Doing so, we believe, would be inconsistent with the NBA’s history and values.”
I know that you're studying what can be done, and it's not as easy as it may seem, but as Martin Luther the King, Jr. once said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
(Photo Credit: USA Today)
You once took a laudable and necessary step in removing Donald Sterling from the NBA's official letterhead. It's time you do the same with Charlotte hosting the 2017 All-Star game.
To whom much is given, much is required.
And the State of North Carolina, unfortunately, has not met the human standard of that requirement.
Wanna hear it? Here it goes: "I'm leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again..."
If you don't, this will be a blemish on your legacy, like Sterling was to your former boss David Stern.
You've already proven to be intolerant of injustice. You now need to follow the precedent that you've already sent, put your money where your mouth was, and do it again.