Before the NBA Finals tipped off, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that he hoped that modifications to North Carolina’s HB2 — the “bathroom bill” — would come from the state legislature and not force him and the league to make a decision about moving the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte because of it.
He then said there was a point this summer when the league would have to make a decision about the future of that game.
There are proposed changes to the bill being floated, but the league said they did not go far enough.
“We have been engaged in dialogue with numerous groups at the city and state levels, but we do not endorse the version of the bill that we understand is currently before the legislature,” the NBA and Charlotte Hornets said in a combined statement. “We remain committed to our guiding principles of inclusion, mutual respect and equal protections for all. We continue to believe that constructive engagement with all sides is the right path forward. There has been no new decision made regarding the 2017 NBA All-Star Game.”
Earlier this year North Carolina’s legislature approved HB2, which restricts transgender bathroom use (you have to use the bathroom for the gender with which you were born) and preempted anti-discrimination ordinances put in by Charlotte and other North Carolina cities that tried to block discrimination against gays and lesbians. The bill was a political ploy in an election year. The law led to a business backlash — PayPal, Deutsche Bank, and others have pulled plans for expansion in the state off the table — as well as a social one, including things such as Bruce Springsteen canceling a concert in the state. The NBA was part of that.
The changes being floated among Republican lawmakers would create a new official document that would officially recognize someone’s gender reassignment, serving as an alternative birth certificate for people coming from a state that does not allow changes to birth certificates. That has been roundly rejected by members of the LBGT community.
It was always unlikely there would be meaningful changes to the bill in an election year.
The buzz All-Star weekend was that the NBA had just a couple of options if it wanted to move the 2017 game. One of those is rumored to be Orlando, where a mass shooting of 49 people at a gay nightclub horrified the nation, plus brought attention to and galvanized the LBGT community in that state (and beyond). If the NBA were to make a statement on inclusively and support, that could be the destination.