NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Friday that moving the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte was a difficult decision but one that was ultimately driven by business. He also said he personally wasn’t in favor of having it in North Carolina in 2017 because of House Bill 2, which the league has said it finds discriminatory against the LGBT community.
Speaking on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Silver said he spoke with either Michael Jordan, who owns the Charlotte Hornets, or someone on his staff on a daily basis for months leading up to the July decision to move the game.
“Many of our sponsors, business partners, frankly many of the employees of the NBA -- remember this is a large national organization -- told us they would feel uncomfortable being in North Carolina,” Silver said from Rio de Janeiro in an interview with reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin.
HB2 mandates that transgender individuals use the bathrooms in government buildings that correspond to their gender identity at birth. The measure also sets a statewide definition of nondiscrimination that excludes gender identity and sexual orientation.
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On Friday, Silver also offered his own opinion about having the game in North Carolina with HB2 as it stands, something he hasn’t done before.
“In terms of my personal politics, whether that’s relevant ... I was not in favor of it in North Carolina. But putting that aside, ultimately it as a business decision,” Silver said.
As he’s done in the past, Silver again called the All-Star Game a celebratory event, and said it would have been difficult to celebrate “in that kind of environment.”
Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill into law in March, nine months after the NBA awarded the 2017 All-Star Weekend to Charlotte. The NBA immediately voiced concern, saying it opposes HB2 and finds it discriminatory toward the LGBT community.
The NBA had said changes would need to be made to HB2 in order to keep the game in Charlotte. Despite efforts from Charlotte’s business community to broker an agreement, the league decided to move the game in July but said it could be in Charlotte in 2019 if more changes are made to HB2.