The Slatest

NBA Pulls All-Star Game From North Carolina Over Transgender Bathroom Law

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks during a press conference before NBA All-Star Saturday Night at Air Canada Centre on Feb. 13 in Toronto.

Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The NBA will not hold the 2017 All-Star game in Charlotte, North Carolina, because state lawmakers show no signs of revising or repealing the state’s transgender bathroom law, the Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Thursday. The league confirmed that report hours later, saying it hopes to hold the game in Charlotte in 2019. The NBA issued a statement that says, in part, “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.”

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In April, NBA Commissioner Adam Sliver called the law “problematic” but vowed to work with the state to reach a solution. An ESPN story quoted Silver as saying, “The best role for the league to play here is through constructive engagement towards change,” and that the league would “not [set] deadlines, not [make] ultimatums, but [work] with the private sector and government to affect change in North Carolina.”

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Evidently those nondeadlines have been missed. The state law, HB2, which was passed in March, bans transgender people from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity and also strips LGBTQ people of protections under the law. As Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern wrote:

The measure revokes local gay and trans nondiscrimination ordinances throughout the state, effectively legalizing anti-LGBTQ discrimination, and forbids trans people from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. That includes trans public school students, many of whom will now, in effect, be barred from using the bathroom at school.

In April, President Obama called for the law to be repealed, and the British foreign tourism office issued a warning to its LGBTQ citizens visiting North Carolina. In June, however, Silver reiterated his “no deadline” position, despite mounting pressure to pull the game from the state.

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“We, of course, have a team in Charlotte, North Carolina,” Silver said during a press conference. “So we as a league want to make sure there is an environment where the LGBT community feels protected down in North Carolina.” But he added, “I don’t see us getting past this summer without knowing definitely where we stand.”

The NBA’s apparent decision to move the All-Star Game comes a day after Duke and U.S. Olympic basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, who’s probably the best-known man in North Carolina, called the law “embarrassing.”

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Citing league sources, Wojnarowski says the NBA will look to hold the game in New Orleans, though other cities are also vying to host the event. In its statement, the NBA says it will announce a new venue “in the coming weeks.” The game will be played on Feb. 19, 2017.

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Update, July 21, 6:25 p.m.: North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has released a statement in which he explains that “[l]eft-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.”

This post has been updated with additional information.

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