Why NBA pulled 2017 All-Star game out of Charlotte, N.C.

The NBA had announced Charlotte, N.C., as the home of the 2017 All-Star games to much fanfare last summer. But now the game is being pulled out of the city over the bathroom laws debate.

Chuck Burton/AP/File
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks during a June 2015 news conference to announce Charlotte, N.C., as the site of the 2017 NBA All-Star basketball game. The NBA is moving the game out of Charlotte because of its objections to a North Carolina law that limits anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, and transgender people, on Thursday.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has decided not to host the 2017 All Star Game in Charlotte, N.C., because of a state law regarding gendered bathroom use that many consider discriminatory. The new location for the games has not yet been announced.

The North Carolina law, known as HB2, limits the anti-discrimination provisions that apply to gender identity and sexual orientation. In effect, the law means that transgender people are not allowed to use the restroom that conforms to their gender identity, overriding a local Charlotte law that would have allowed transgender people to use their preferred bathroom. The law also prevents individuals from suing for gender identity or sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace or in places of business, such as restaurants and hotels.

"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,” said Gov. Pat McCrory in a statement Thursday, “simply because most people believe boys and girls should be able to use school bathrooms, locker rooms and showers without the opposite sex present."

State lawmakers have been highly criticized for HB2 since it was approved during a special legislative session in March. A number of corporate businesses have condemned the state’s decision to pass the law, and some have even pulled their business from the state, costing North Carolina hundreds of jobs, as The Christian Science Monitor's Patrik Jonsson detailed in April.

While some executives, such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, merely issued public statements on the state’s decision, others have decided to pull their business. PayPal, for example, canceled a planned expansion to the state. Google said that it would not inject any venture capital into the state until the law was changed.

Entertainers, too, have spoken out strongly against HB2, with musicians like Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr cancelling appearances as a result. The economic impact of the state legislature’s decision could be considerable, with many cities and towns unable to withstand the financial backlash from businesses and consumers pulling out of the state.

The NBA announced its decision to move the All Star Game this week, after state lawmakers left the law largely unchanged following a review.

"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 said in a statement.

While the NBA has decided not to host the 2017 All Star Games in Charlotte, the league is still considering the city for its 2019 games, provided the law changes by that time.

Charlotte Hornets chairman (and Hall of Fame basketball player) Michael Jordan expressed regret that the league decided to move the games, but cited an “exhaustive effort” by all parties to keep the games in Charlotte.

The NBA waited as long as possible for this decision, said Commissioner Adam Silver, because the commissioner believed that the positive dialogue generated by the NBA’s consideration of alternate cities could possibly change the law.

In the end, however, the NBA was forced to make a decision this summer, choosing to move the games out of the city.

The state law is currently being challenged, not only by concerned citizens and national businesses, but also faces legal challenges in federal court.

Several other cities are being considered to host the All Star Weekend, including the city of New Orleans.  

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