In a state of the league address Thursday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said legal issues complicating the location of the 2017 All-Star Game must be resolved this summer.
The four-day event was awarded to Charlotte back in 2015, but North Carolina's passage of controversial House Bill 2 left the NBA uncomfortable hosting one of its premier events in that state.
Concerned about the law's infringement on LGBT rights, Silver said the league must see satisfactory reforms to HB2 soon in order for Charlotte to keep the All-Star Game.
There is absolutely strong interest in trying to work something out. Both sides of the issue recognize, however heartfelt their views are, that the current state of being is causing enormous economic damage to the state. ...
We of course have a team in Charlotte, North Carolina, so we as the league want to make sure that there is an environment in which the LGBT community feels protected down in North Carolina. At the same time, I also think that the bathroom issue frankly has become a little bit of a distraction. From the very beginning, that was not the core issue here; it was protection for the LGBT community in terms of economic rights, personal rights, and the bathroom bill became a part of it.
HB2 is commonly referred to as "the bathroom bill" because of provisions that compell transgender people to use restrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificates. That is in conflict with an ordinance the Charlotte City Council passed permitting transgender people to choose the restroom of their self-identified gender.
While the bathroom debate has attracted the most media attention, Silver's comments indicate the league is more concerned with basic issues of legal protection raised by HB2. The Charlotte Observer summarizes them thusly:
Along with the bathroom provision, HB2 struck down Charlotte’s nondiscrimination ordinance that made sexual orientation and gender identity protected categories citywide. HB2 also blocks a path that North Carolinians had to file discrimination claims in state court. That leaves the more expensive and time-sensitive federal court process as the main route for North Carolinians bringing age, gender and discrimination claims.
In case these concerns are not resolved to the NBA's satisfaction this summer, Silver admitted that the process of exploring alternate locations for the All-Star Game has already begun.
Losing the event could cost the Charlotte economy up to $100 million, reports the Observer.