The NBA has decided to move the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, citing objections to North Carolina’s controversial anti-LGBT legislation that was passed in March.
The league, in a statement issued Thursday, said it could not successfully hold the game in the climate created by North Carolina House Bill 2, which prohibits transgender people from accessing bathrooms with which they identify. It also allows bars and restaurants the right to refuse service to a customer based on their gender or sexual orientation.
The NBA has not selected a new site for the contest, which will be held in February, but said it would do so in the next several weeks.
“Since March, when North Carolina enacted HB2 and the issue of legal protections for the LGBT community in Charlotte became prominent, the NBA and the Charlotte Hornets have been working diligently to foster constructive dialogue and try to effect positive change,” the league said. “We have been guided in these discussions by the long-standing core values of our league. These include not only diversity, inclusion, fairness and respect for others but also the willingness to listen and consider opposing points of view.
“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.”
The NBA’s decision was not a surprise. At the board of governor’s meeting in Las Vegas last week, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told reporters, “We were frankly hoping that they would make some steps toward modifying the legislation, and frankly I was disappointed that they didn’t.”
The NBA indicated that Charlotte could be the host of the game in 2019 “provided there is an appropriate resolution to this matter.”
Gov. Pat McCrory issued a statement that blamed “the sports and entertainment elite, Attorney General Roy Cooper and the liberal media.”
The Charlotte Hornets and chairman Michael Jordan also released a statement.
“We understand the NBA’s decision and the challenges around holding the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte this season,” it read. “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.”
TNT, which telecasts the game, issued a statement supporting the NBA:
“At Turner, and our parent company Time Warner, diversity in all its forms is core to our value system and to the success of our company. Laws to the contrary go against our fundamental belief of equality and inclusion for all individuals. We fully support the NBA’s decision to relocate the 2017 All-Star Game and all of the weekend’s events originally scheduled to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina. The annual All-Star Game and accompanying weekend competitions are viewed by millions of fans every year on TNT and we look forward to working with the league to once again produce a memorable and entertaining event.”
Player agent Casey Wasserman, who represents several high-profile NBA players including Anthony Davis, Draymond Green, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook, said in a statement, “Today the NBA showed the world that in sport and in practice we will not stand for inequality and discrimination. The All-Star Game represents everything we as a nation love about basketball on and off the court — diversity, sportsmanship and most of all a commitment to unite fans. With this decision today, the NBA protected that unity and demonstrated true leadership. We all applaud their inclusiveness and conviction.”