The NBA announced Thursday that it will move the February 2017 NBA All-Star Game from Charlotte, North Carolina after protracted negotiations by the NBA and the Charlotte Hornets basketball team with North Carolina law makers failed to change the state’s controversial HB2.
In a statement, the league said “Our week-long schedule of All-Star events and activities is intended to be a global celebration of basketball, our league, and the values for which we stand, and to bring together all members of the NBA community — current and former players, league and team officials, business partners, and fans. While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2.”
Passed in March in a special session, HB2 eliminated antidiscrimination protections for lesbians, gays and bisexuals while also requiring transgender individuals use public bathrooms that match the gender listed on their birth certificates. At the same time the law banned city and county governments in the state from overriding this law. Ignoring pleas from the sports and business communities and human rights organizations to change the contentious law, lawmakers did make very small concessions before going on break but insisted that the transgender mandate must be maintained for “public safety.” The NBA and Hornets immediately responded that the change wasn’t enough to meet their antidiscrimination policies.
The league did indicate it might consider holding the festivities in Charlotte in 2019, inferring that the legislation would need to be changed by then. The 2018 All-Star Game is being held in Los Angeles.
An alternate venue for the 2017 event will be announced in the coming weeks, according to the league’s statement. And The Vertical reports that New Orleans seems to be a front-runner to play host although ESPN reports that sources have also named Chicago and New York/Booklyn as possible hosts.
The Charlotte Hornets, set to host the 2017 event, and its chair Michael Jordon issued similar sentiments:
“We understand the NBA’s decision and the challenges around holding the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte this season. There was an exhaustive effort from all parties to keep the event in Charlotte, and we are disappointed we were unable to do so. With that said, we are pleased that the NBA opened the door for Charlotte to host All-Star Weekend again as soon as an opportunity was available in 2019. We want to thank the City of Charlotte and the business community for their backing throughout this entire process, starting with the initial bid. We are confident that they will be just as supportive and enthusiastic for the 2019 NBA All-Star Game.”
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