NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Photo by Dennis Van Tine/UPI | License Photo
The NBA announced it will pull the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, with the hope of returning the marquee midseason event to the city two years later.
The league's move is in response to its objection to North Carolina House Bill 2, a law that mandates transgender people use public restrooms corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificates.
Commissioner Adam Silver had threatened to move the All-Star Weekend out of Charlotte unless the law aimed at the state's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community was changed.
"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 NBA said in a statement. "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 Charlotte Hornets and chairman Michael Jordan released a statement based on the NBA's decision to move the game, which is scheduled for Feb. 19.
"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," the statement read.
"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."
While the league said that it would reveal the new host city for the 2017 All-Star Game in the coming weeks, The Vertical reported that the NBA has its eyes on the New Orleans' Smoothie King Center. New Orleans played host to the All-Star Game in both 2008 and 2014.
Chicago, New York and Brooklyn are also in the running to host the event, ESPN reported on Thursday.
"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," the league's statement continued. "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.
"We look forward to re-starting plans for our All-Star festivities in Charlotte for 2019 provided there is an appropriate resolution to this matter.
"The NBA will make an announcement on the new location of the 2017 NBA All-Star Game in the coming weeks."
The Sacramento Kings were among the first teams to publicly comment on the decision to move the All-Star Game out of Charlotte.
"The NBA has long stood for inclusion and respect, and the Sacramento Kings are proud to be a part of that legacy," Kings owner and chairman Vivek Ranadive said in a statement. "On and off the court we have a diverse team representing different countries, races, religions, ages and sexual orientations. In basketball and in Silicon Valley, we share a similar philosophy - it does not matter who you are, your religious beliefs, your sexual orientation, or the color of your skin - everyone is welcome in our family. All that matters is that you've got game.
"We applaud and support the NBA's decision to ensure that all members of the NBA family, our fans and our partners are able to attend and enjoy the All-Star game in a state where they feel welcome and safe. We enthusiastically support Commissioner Silver and we are proud to play in a league that is a leader in promoting the importance of diversity and equality."