NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Friday that the recent changes North Carolina made to the law known as House Bill 2 mean Charlotte again will be eligible to host the 2019 All-Star Game. Silver announced the news at the conclusion of league’s Board of Governors meetings this week in New York.
“Another important issue we discussed was the revisiting of North Carolina as an all-star host,” Silver said. “This is not an easy decision. The most recent change in the law does not mean the fundamental issues are resolved. But after considering all points of view, we concluded that Charlotte will be eligible to host the 2019 NBA All-Star Game.”
The NBA moved this year’s All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans in response to the so-called “bathroom bill,” which required transgender individuals to use public restrooms that correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificates. At the time of the move, the league left open the possibility of returning the game to Charlotte in 2019 if the state made changes to the bill.
And after a compromise between the Republican-controlled legislature and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper recently passed, the league has followed the NCAA in saying it’s willing to return future events to the state.
Silver cited the NBA’s long-standing relationship with the city and state, home to the Hornets, as part of the league’s decision.
“When Charlotte resubmits its application, we will need to ensure that our events can proceed with open access and anti-discrimination policies and that we can extend those policies to the venues, hotels and businesses that we would work with during All-Star Weekend,” Silver said. “We believe that an All-Star Game in Charlotte could be a powerful way to display our values of equality and inclusion, and by engaging even more deeply in North Carolina, we can be part of a larger national effort toward securing LGBT equality.
“Ultimately, I believe changing attitudes and not just laws is what will lead to that result.”
The same view was not held by interest groups opposed to the law, which spoke out Friday in the wake of Silver’s announcement, saying the NBA should have stood firm in wanting the state to do more than what it has done to the bill before considering a return of its midseason showcase event.
“It is deeply disappointing to see the NBA reward North Carolina for doubling down on discrimination,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “North Carolina has enacted a statewide ban on non-discrimination protections, and it remains the only state that has made it the state’s exclusive business to decide where transgender people may use the restroom.
“These are dangerous laws that must change, and if the NBA decides to bring games to North Carolina — which is not yet clear — we expect that they will also be actively working to repeal laws that endanger LGBTQ players, fans, and employees.”