NBA Pulls 2017 All-Star Game Out of Charlotte, North Carolina, Over 'Anti-LGBT' Law
The NBA said it would announce a new location for the game soon.
— -- The NBA has pulled its 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, North Carolina in the wake of the passage of a controversial measure that has been criticized as anti-LGBT.
"The NBA has decided to relocate the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte," the NBA told ABC News today in a statement, adding that it would "make an announcement on the new location of the 2017 NBA All-Star Game in the coming 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 NBA said. "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 comes after North Carolina's General Assembly failed to repeal HB2 during its last session of the year earlier this month.
HB2 prohibits most transgender people from accessing bathrooms in government offices and schools that correspond to the gender with which they identify. It also bars local municipalities from creating their own rules prohibiting discrimination in public places based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Since lawmakers weren't scheduled to reconvene until January of next year -- and the All-Star Game was scheduled to happen in February -- the NBA faced increasing pressure over the past few weeks to officially move the game.
Two weeks ago, technology industry leaders sent a letter to NBA Commission Adam Silver and urged him to move the upcoming game out of North Carolina, according to The Associated Press. The letter was signed by executives from famous companies including Google, Reddit, Paypal, Lyft and Pinterest.
"If the NBA holds events in North Carolina while HB2 remains law, players, employees, and fans will be at risk of discrimination — and that's wrong," read the letter obtained by the AP. "The NBA has nothing to lose by taking a stand alongside hundreds of other companies and showing support for its LGBTQ players, employees, and fans."
Though North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory issued an executive order in April that he said provided "new protections" and "clarified" HB2, many LGBTQ+ advocates denounced the move as a deflective measure that didn't address the bulk of their concerns with HB2.
McCrory responded to the NBA's decision in a statement today, saying, "American families should be on notice that the selective corporate elite are imposing their political will on communities in which they do business, thus bypassing the democratic and legal process."
"The sports and entertainment elite, Attorney General Roy Cooper and the liberal media have for months misrepresented our laws and maligned the people of North Carolina simply because most people believe boys and girls should be able to use school bathrooms, locker rooms and showers without the opposite sex present," McCrory said.
"Twenty-one other states have joined North Carolina to challenge the federal overreach by the Obama administration mandating their bathroom policies in all businesses and schools instead of allowing accommodations for unique circumstances," he added. "Left-wing special interest groups have no moral authority to try and intimidate the large majority of American parents who agree in common-sense bathroom and shower privacy for our children."
Charlotte's Mayor, Jennifer Roberts, criticized McCrory today in a tweet saying that the governor "needs to own up to his colossal mistake & change #HB2 before he loses more business & jobs for NC families."
The NBA has said it hopes to reschedule an All-Star Game in Charlotte in 2019 if changes were made.
"I am encouraged that Charlotte has the opportunity to host the game in 2019 if changes to HB2 are made and I encourage the state to take action as soon as possible," Roberts said in a statement today. "I appreciate the NBA and our Charlotte Hornets such champions of equality."
The Charlotte Hornets team said in a statement that they "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 team said. "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."