NBA watching Utah and the proposed transgender student sports ban

Mar 23, 2022, 7:00 PM | Updated: Mar 24, 2022, 1:20 pm
(The Vivint Arena, with a countdown to the 2023 NBA All-Star Game.  Photo: Paul Nelson, March 23, 2...
(The Vivint Arena, with a countdown to the 2023 NBA All-Star Game. Photo: Paul Nelson, March 23, 2022)
(The Vivint Arena, with a countdown to the 2023 NBA All-Star Game. Photo: Paul Nelson, March 23, 2022)

SALT LAKE CITY — The National Basketball Association is reportedly keeping a close eye on Utah’s Capitol Hill.  Some analysts are speculating on whether the league would pull the 2023 All-Star Game if the legislature upholds a transgender students’ sports ban.

Transgender sports ban

No official decision has been made regarding the future of the 2023 All-Star Game, yet, but league officials say they’re watching to see if the legislature overturns Gov. Spencer Cox’s veto of HB11.  The governor has stated there were last-minute changes that received no public input and that compromises with LGBTQ advocates fell apart.

League officials aren’t saying much about the bill. However, NBA Chief Communications Officer Michael Bass sent KSL a statement. It read, “We’re working closely with the Jazz on this matter.” 

KSL Sports Jazz Insider Ben Anderson said, “The NBA is, kind of, purposefully being vague, as well.  They don’t want to draw a line in the sand, something they can’t come back on or cross over.  I’m sure the Jazz are trying to treat it carefully because they certainly want the All-Star Game to be here, as well.”

If no decision has been made, why the speculation? 

League officials have pulled the yearly game out of other cities due to laws they considered as discrimination against the LGBTQ community.  USA Today reports the NBA pulled the game out of Charlotte when North Carolina passed its controversial “bathroom bill.”  Anderson says the game returned to Charlotte in 2019 after league officials were satisfied the law was changed.

“The league looked at the bill and how they changed some of the verbiage in it,” Anderson said.

Smith made his feelings known

Jazz owner Ryan Smith has made his feelings about the bill clear.  He tweeted that the bill was rushed, flawed and it won’t hold up over time.

Anderson said, “Ryan Smith did tweet, and said, ‘Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.’”

“It’s in line with how Ryan Smith has operated since he bought the Jazz.  He has certainly been more progressive on that front than the Millers were, not that the Millers were doing anything necessarily retroactive,” according to Anderson.

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NBA watching Utah and the proposed transgender student sports ban