The National Basketball Association is preparing to make an All-Star move toward equality.
League sources have told The Vertical, a basketball-focused subset of Yahoo Sports, that the NBA will pull its 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte, N.C. It will formally announce the decision later this week.
Earlier this year, Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law House Bill 2, which among other things made it illegal for transgender people to use bathroom facilities (in government buildings) that correspond with their gender identity.
The NBA had tweeted a message of concern shortly after the law was passed, and a diverse selection of people, including U.S. senators and retired NBA great Charles Barkley, have urged that the All-Star Game be moved. The game provides a huge economic boost to its host city.
In April commissioner Adam Silver said the league would hold off on changing host cities, and instead used the possibility of a move as an "incentive to change the law."
Months later, and North Carolina has made no real strides toward a repeal. Now, the league is reportedly looking to New Orleans as a replacement.
LGBT and ally groups were quick to hail the NBA's move as a slum drunk for progress.
“We applaud Commissioner Silver for finally listening to the thousands of NBA fans who have spoken out against HB 2 and for taking a strong stand against discrimination by moving the 2017 NBA All-Star Game to a state where people in the LGBTQ community are not subject to overt harassment and hate," said Nita Chaudhary, cofounder of UltraViolet.
“The NBA's decision to move the 2017 All-Star Game is groundbreaking and sets an example for every other sporting body to follow,” said Hudson Taylor, the founder of Athlete Ally. “If athletic communities believe in the principles of respect and equal treatment for their LGBT fans, then All-Star games and championship events should only be awarded to those states and cities that reflect those values.”
Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress NC Action, also drove home the economic impact on North Carolina as a result of its discriminatory law and continued to pressure McCrory to repeal it.
“Today’s news is further evidence that HB 2 is an economic disaster for North Carolina,” Brenner said. “Over $100 million in economic activity is leaving our state because of Gov. McCrory’s discriminatory law, on top of the hundreds of jobs and millions in tourism dollars that our state has already lost over HB 2. But instead of admitting his mistake, the governor is busy raiding our disaster relief fund to defend this man-made disaster of a law in court. It’s time for Gov. McCrory to accept reality and call for a full repeal of HB 2 before any more damage is done to our economy.”
The NBA wasn't the only one in the sports world to criticize North Carolina this week. Mike Krzyzewski, coach of Duke University's basketball team as well as the U.S. men's national basketball headed to Rio, slammed the legislation in comments to USA Today.
“It’s an embarrassing bill,” Krzyzewski said. “That’s all I’m going to say about it.”
His comments follow the revelation that another NCAA team, the Albany Great Danes, would not be headed to North Carolina for the Hall of Fame tournament due to HB 2. Pressure is also building on the NCAA to cancel events due to the legislation.
Mark Gottfried, the head coach at North Carolina State University, also expressed his frustration with HB 2.
“I’m against any law that allows discrimination, whether that’s based on race, gender, sexual orientation," Gottfried said. "I don’t understand how someone can support this. I think the people at N.C. State, we believe in inclusion. Being a resident of the state, for me and my family, it’s been frustrating.”