This has been rumored for months and reported as all but done this morning, now the NBA has made it official:
The 2017 NBA All-Star Game has been pulled from Charlotte.
From the official press release of the NBA.
“The NBA has decided to relocate the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte with the hope of rescheduling for 2019.
“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. 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….. 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.
“We are particularly mindful of the impact of this decision on our fans in North Carolina, who are among the most passionate in our league. It is also important to stress that the City of Charlotte and the Hornets organization have sought to provide an inclusive environment and that the Hornets will continue to ensure that all patrons — including members of the LGBT community — feel welcome while attending games and events in their arena.”
The Hornets added this statement:
“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.”
Other NBA teams backed the move, something summed up by Gregg Popovich in Las Vegas with Team USA.
“I agree with the league and Bruce Springsteen and everybody else who pulled out,” Popovich said.
Good for the NBA. This was the right move.
As you might imagine, the North Carolina governor feels differently.
There’s not room on the Internet to discuss everything wrong in that statement.
Turner Broadcasting — which owns TNT, the channel that has exclusive broadcast rights to All-Star Weekend — backed the NBA’s position.
“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.”
North Carolina’s legislature called a special session earlier this year approve 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 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. Now the NBA has joined that list.
While there have been some talks about modification of the law, that was never likely in an election year — this law is red meat to a socially conservative Republican base, and in a red state that was not going to change before the election in what is seen as a swing state this time around.
While rumors have circulated for a while that Orlando had pushed for the All-Star Game, it appears that New Orleans is now the front runner. Chicago and Brooklyn may also be in the mix.