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NBA moving All-Star Game from Charlotte over NC bill

Charlotte’s objection to North Carolina House Bill 2 is an issue for the league

LAS VEGAS — The NBA is moving the the 2017 All-Star Game in February from Charlotte because of its objection to North Carolina House Bill 2, which limited anti-discrimination protections in the state.

In a statement, the league said it hopes to reschedule the game to appear in Charlotte in 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,” the league said. “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 statement said the league will announce an alternate venue for the event in the coming weeks.

The Vertical reported Thursday that New Orleans had emerged as a front-runner to host the game. Several other NBA cities have become options, including Chicago and New York/Brooklyn, sources told ESPN.

Stephen Curry, who grew up in Charlotte because his father Dell played for the Hornets, reacted on SportsCenter on Thursday.

“It’s disappointing that my home team won’t be able to host the All-Star Game as planned,” he said. “I understand [commissioner] Adam Silver’s position.”

What really hurts, he said, is “just I know how much that would have meant to the city.”

“We support [the decision],” he added, “but at the end of the day I love Charlotte. I love the city.”

Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony also feels bad for the city.

“Aside from all the politics, I feel bad for MJ [Hornets chairman Michael Jordan] because I knew what that was going to do for the city of Charlotte,” he told ESPN. “It was definitely going to boost everything. For him being able to bring All Star weekend to Charlotte. I feel bad for him and for the NBA, too. We as players didn’t think it was going to get to this. It’s unfortunate.”

ESPN, which has a broadcast contract with the NBA but will not be televising the game, said it supports the decision.

“ESPN has demonstrated a strong commitment to inclusion,” it said in a statement. “The NBA’s decision is one which we fully support, emphatically illustrating that the league clearly stands for inclusion as well.”

While the All-Star Game will be moved, the league said in its statement that the Hornets operating in Charlotte is not a problem.

“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 and chairman Michael Jordan also released a statement.

“We understand the NBA’s decision and the challenges around holding the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte this season,” it read. “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.”

Before the announcement, North Carolina state Sen. Jeff Jackson (D) of Mecklenburg County told ESPN that the NBA moving the All-Star Game from Charlotte is a “100 million hit to the city of Charlotte and the state. A lot of that money would go to schools, health care and roads. We’ve sacrificed all of that for Gov. [Pat] McCrory’s social agenda. He would rather pander to his base than fix an obvious mistake that has major consequences.”

Not all leagues are ready to pull games out of North Carolina, however.

Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford told ESPN on Thursday that as of now the league will keep its December football championship in Charlotte. He did say that the conference will revisit the discussion in October.

McCrory’s office has not responded to an ESPN request for comment on the game moving.

Information from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Brian Windhorst and Andy Katz was used in this report.

Kelley Evans is a digital producer at Andscape. She is a food passionista, helicopter mom and an unapologetic Southerner who spends every night with the cast of The Young and the Restless by way of her couch.