Add Duke basketball to the list of casualties from North Carolina’s anti-LGBT HB2.
Duke lost to South Carolina in the NCAA men’s East regional on Sunday in a contest played in Greenville, S.C., in what amounted to a home game for the seventh-seeded Gamecocks. The game was originally scheduled for Greensboro, N.C., but was moved when the NCAA reacted to the passage of HB2.
It’s, of course, impossible to say whether No. 2-seed Duke would have won the game had it been played in Greensboro. But playing South Carolina in Greenville, less than 100 miles from the Gamecocks campus, was a decided disadvantage to Duke and a huge advantage to South Carolina.
The arena was filled with South Carolina fans, as well as with fans from the University of North Carolina — which played earlier Sunday against Arkansas— who were cheering lustily against Duke. It was the first time in school history that South Carolina reached the men’s Sweet 16.
Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski has spoken out against HB2 — the so-called “bathroom bill” — and reiterated his stance in Greenville on Friday, saying, “Look, it's a stupid thing. If I was president or governor I'd get rid of it"
The TBS crew of Brian Anderson and Chris Webber, calling the games in Greenville, did not shy away from discussing HB2. A reader sent us this from their Friday commentary:
Watching the first round Duke-Troy game, the announcers brought up why the game was being played in Greenville and not in Greensboro. They were unequivocal that it was due to the "anti-LGBT bill called HB2" that was passed by the N.C. legislature. They went on to explain why the NCAA rightly moved the games and quoted Mike Krzyzewski as calling the law "stupid."
Then they talked about the warm welcome that Greenville had laid out at such short notice and how they had sold out the games to full houses. Then one of the announcers made the most amazing statement. He said, "what's important is that everyone feels welcome here. EVERYONE feels welcome here.” It was awesome.
When Duke fans on Twitter complained about Duke playing an away game, they were met with the proper retorts:
To Duke fans claiming it was unfair because the game was in SC: call your legislator tomorrow➡️tell them to repeal HB2. #ncpol #marchmadness— Lincoln Pennington (@Lincoln_Ross) March 20, 2017
As #Duke struggles with #SouthCarolina just think this game would be in Greensboro if state leaders were not transphobic. #HB2 #marchmadness— Anthony Nicodemo (@coachNicodemo) March 20, 2017
Let's not forget that Duke and Carolina's #NCAA games would have been played in NC were it not for #HB2. Discrimination has consequences.— David E. Price (@RepDavidEPrice) March 16, 2017
Basketball is a religion in North Carolina but a loss by Duke won’t be enough for the pig-headed and prejudiced Republican legislators who support it to change their minds.
I am being deliberately provocative in “blaming” the law for Duke’s loss. The play by South Carolina was the main reason the Blue Devils are going home early. It is a reminder, though, that the law continues to have unforeseen consequences in all facets of life in North Carolina and is an embarrassment to the state.