NBA: 'No discussion' of moving All-Star Game from Charlotte

NBA: 'No discussion' of moving All-Star Game from Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, NC (Katherine Peralta/The Charlotte Obs - The NBA said Friday that North Carolina's LGBT law is "problematic" for the league, but it hasn't made any plans to move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte.

The move means Charlotte dodges, for now, a potential economic blow – but keeps alive the pushback to House Bill 2, which limits protections for LGBT individuals. The All-Star Game, set for Feb. 17 at Time Warner Cable Arena, is projected to pump $100 million into Charlotte's economy and draw more visitors than any event since the Democratic National Convention.

"The current state of the law is problematic for the league. But we're not making any announcements now," commissioner Adam Silver said at the conclusion of the league's board of governors meetings in New York. "We can be most constructive by working with elected officials to effect change."

Since McCrory signed HB2 on March 23, hundreds of businesses around the country have spoken out against the measure, and PayPal announced April 5 it was canceling plans to open an operations center in Charlotte that would employ 400.

Silver said Friday no votes were taken at the board of governors meeting about moving the game, but it was unanimous in the room that "we stand united against any form of discrimination."

This isn't the first time the NBA under Silver has taken a strong stand against actions it considers discriminatory.

Just a couple of months after Silver, a 1984 Duke graduate, became commissioner, then-Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling made comments regarded as racist, including one referring to former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson. The league forced him to sell, and Silver was lauded for his crisis management.

"Sports can be used as a constructive force to bring people together. Ultimately our interest is in conducting successful All-Star Game in North Carolina and having a team that can play there in a nondiscriminatory environment," Silver said.

HB2 was a response to a provision in Charlotte's expanded nondiscrimination ordinance that would allow transgender individuals to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender with which they identify.

"We appreciate and are grateful for the NBA's decision to keep the All-Star Game in Charlotte. We recognize that they, and others, have an expectation that more work needs to be done," the Charlotte Chamber said in a statement Friday after Silver's comments.

This week, a bipartisan group of six U.S. senators co-authored a letter imploring Silver to move the game from Charlotte because of the controversial law.

"We cannot condone nor stand idly by as North Carolina moves to legalize and institutionalize discrimination against the LGBT community. Nor should the NBA allow its premier annual event to be hosted in such a state. Doing so, we believe, would be inconsistent with the NBA's history and values," the group wrote.

An Oakland city council member this week also said she will ask the NBA to consider moving the All-Star Game to California, and last month, the Atlanta City Council similarly invited the NBA to consider relocating the game to Atlanta, saying HB2 "discriminates against members of the LGBT community."

Charlotte won the bid last June to host the All-Star Game. "We are thrilled to showcase the City of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina on a global stage and welcome the NBA and its fans," McCrory said at the time.

The city agreed in 2014 to pay $27.5 million toward improvements to the arena. Many of those improvements are required under an operating agreement with the Charlotte Hornets, who play in the arena and operate it for the city. The NBA saw those improvements as key to any All-Star bid.

Last month the Hornets secured funding from 15 sponsors for the game.