Warriors

After postponement due to HB2 law, Charlotte to host 2019 All-Star Game

After postponement due to HB2 law, Charlotte to host 2019 All-Star Game

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The NBA All-Star game is headed back to Charlotte in 2019, a couple of years later than anticipated.

The NBA announced that the All-Star weekend will be held Feb. 15-17 in Charlotte and the game will be played at the Spectrum Center, home of the Charlotte Hornets.

The league had selected Charlotte to host the 2017 All-Star game, but later moved the game to New Orleans because of the state law restricting the rights of LGBT people. However, a compromise was struck in March to partially erase the impact of the House Bill 2 law limiting anti-discrimination protections for lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people.

"While we understand the concerns of those who say the repeal of HB2 did not go far enough, we believe the recent legislation eliminates the most egregious aspects of the prior law," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a release. "Additionally, it allows us to work with the leadership of the Hornets organization to apply a set of equality principles to ensure that every All-Star event will proceed with open access and anti-discrimination policies.

"All venues, hotels and businesses we work with during All-Star will adhere to these policies as well."

Despite Silver's intentions, the Equality NC and the Human Rights Campaign has concerns that no protections for non-discrimination policies for the LGBTQ community have been put in place by the Charlotte or the state.

"North Carolina's discriminatory law prohibits the city of Charlotte from implementing non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ residents and visitors attending the All-Star Game. Nothing has changed that fact," said HRC senior vice president for policy and political affairs JoDee Winterhof.

The NBA is the latest sports entity to return events to North Carolina; the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference also are bringing events back to the state after changes were made to the law.

The now-repealed House Bill 2 required transgender people to use restrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates in many public buildings. That's been dropped, but LGBT advocates have denounced the replacement law because state officials took no action barring sexual identity and gender discrimination in workplaces, restaurants and hotels and instead prohibited local governments from acting on their own.

Hornets owner and longtime NBA great Michael Jordan said in a release he is "thrilled" the game is coming back to Charlotte.

"We want to thank Commissioner Silver for his leadership throughout this process and for the decision to bring NBA All-Star back to Buzz City," Jordan said in the release. "All-Star Weekend is an international event that will provide a tremendous economic impact to our community while showcasing our city, our franchise and our passionate Hornets fan base to people around the world."

Jordan asked Silver to keep the city in mind for 2019 after the league moved the 2017 game - hopeful the HB2 law would eventually be repealed.

Silver honored that request.

Hornets COO and president Fred Whitfield represented the Hornets and Spectrum Center in doing whatever he could to help facilitate a resolution, spending time meeting with legislatures and other business leaders in North Carolina.

"From the very beginning I was in engaged to see if we could not only save the 2019 All-Star game, but the NCAA (basketball) regionals and the ACC Tournament, as well as concerts and events in the building," Whitfield said. "We are operators of the building and we felt like we had to get engaged to assist to get some resolution."

Even as talks to repeal HB2 stalled at times, the Hornets continued to move forward with the league's request to upgrade the arena.

The $41 million renovation - $33.5 million of which came from the City of Charlotte - is almost complete, and has included a new scoreboard, new floor and renovations to suites and hospitality areas, among other upgrades.

Charlotte previously hosted the All-Star game in 1991 at the Charlotte Coliseum, which has since been demolished.

Pete Guelli, the Hornets executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer, estimates a $100 economic impact for the city, but said the reputational effect will be even bigger.

"This city has changed significantly since the last time it hosted a game 28 years ago," Guelli said, "and the opportunity to showcase that on an international stage is incalculable."

Warriors have earned respect with sixth straight 50-win season

Warriors have earned respect with sixth straight 50-win season

OAKLAND – They don’t celebrate 50-win seasons around here. Not anymore. Not when it’s a mere signpost along the way to something worth cherishing.

That’s what 50 wins has become for the Warriors. When they hit No. 50 on Sunday with an indistinct 121-114 victory over the Detroit Pistons, there was but the slightest few moments of reflection.

“Pretty impressive,” coach Steve Kerr said.

“It’s special to be a part of something so great as these last six of seven years have been for us,” Draymond Green said.

Beg pardon? Impressive? Special? For a franchise that reached 50 wins four times in its first five decades in the Bay Area to string together six consecutive such seasons is right out of the late Franklin Mieuli’s wildest fantasy.

Mieuli owned the Warriors for the first 24 years (1962-86) of their Bay Area existence, first in San Francisco and then in Oakland. The Warriors reached 50 wins twice in that span.

Mieuli sold the team to Jim Fitzgerald and Dan Finnane, who owned the Warriors for nine seasons (1986-95), during which there were two 50-win seasons.

The Chris Cohan ownership lasted 15 seasons (1995-2010) and never saw a 50-win season. The most successful team under Cohan was the 2006-07 “We Believe” squad that finished two games over .500 (42-40) – enough to be revered for eternity.

Among the few employees remaining from the Cohan era is Stephen Curry, drafted one year before the current ownership group, led by Joe Lacob and Peter Guber. The Warriors were 25-56 in Curry’s rookie season, 36-46 the following season and 23-43 in his third season. So there was a time . . .

Curry knows, as do the team’s longtime fans, how absurd this turnaround has been.

“It’s surreal, to be honest, when you talk about the history of the organization and how hard it is to win NBA games, win championships and string together year after year after year,” he said. “It takes a collection of talented guys, a commitment to trying to put together the best team possible every year. And that’s the front office, the coaching staff, all the way down.”

The Warriors and their fans have evolved from the years of praying for the playoffs to the annual expectation of championship parade. They once hoped for satisfactory. They now anticipate excellence.

“When I came here, I think there was a 23-win season the year before that,” said Green, who was drafted in 2012, three seasons after Curry. “The next year was my rookie year and we made the playoffs and we won (47) games. To have the run that we’re currently having, it’s a special thing.

“But in saying that, we get the opportunity to do it with a special group of guys, a special organization, a special coaching staff, a special ownership group, a special front office. It’s more about the people that you come work with every day. That’s what makes runs like this possible. That’s what makes runs like this sustainable.”

[RELATED: Kerr's message after Mavericks loss]

The Warriors were 51-31 in Mark Jackson’s final season as coach. They’ve since won 67, 73, 67, 58. Here in Year 5, they are at 50 – and counting.

Which is why, in part, Kerr says he didn’t sweat that putrid performance the Warriors laid down Saturday in a 35-point loss to Dallas at Oracle.

“It’s hard for anybody to understand what these guys go through physically, emotionally and spiritually, trying to defend the crown, trying to win the title, trying to stay on top of the mountain,” Kerr said. “It’s hard. And last night they had nothing. They had nothing in the tank.

“The great thing about this team . . . is they always bounce back because they have so much pride. What they have accomplished – this team has the best record over the last four seasons (265-63) as any four-year run in the history of the NBA. What they have done is just remarkable. Last night was tough, but it’s really tough to do what they have done, too. We’re going to give them a pass and we are going to move on.”

Understand, 50 wins guarantees nothing in the postseason. The NBA graveyard is replete with headstones marking the first-round demise of 50-win teams. In the first of their six 50-win seasons, 2013-14, the Warriors were such a team, ousted in seven by the hated Clippers.

[RELATED: KD, Kerr on six-shot night]

Here’s the one thing a succession of 50-win seasons can assure: Respect. That’s something the Warriors had to earn.

“I have a true appreciation for what we’ve been able to do,” Curry said. “But I want to continue this for as long as we can.”

How Draymond Green's defense set tone for Warriors in win vs. Pistons

How Draymond Green's defense set tone for Warriors in win vs. Pistons

OAKLAND - Ten minutes into the first quarter of Sunday's win over the Pistons, Draymond Green found himself in the post against fellow forward and former adversary Blake Griffin. With 10 seconds left in the shot clock, Griffin took a couple of jab steps, trying to make room along the baseline, but not before Green's defense forced the All-Star to fumble the ball, allowing the shot clock to expire.

Green then tapped Pistons head coach Dwane Casey and held a blank stare to the crowd. The play, like his one-on-one battle with Griffin on Sunday night, set the tone Golden State's 121-114 victory over Detroit.

"I thought Draymond's energy and defensive effort sparked us all night," Steve Kerr said following the game.

From the onset of Sunday's matchup, Griffin, who finished with 24 points on 6-of-14 from the field, seemed to be playing the memories of yesteryear as much he played Green. For his first several possessions he sought out the Warriors' forward in the post, hoping his array of powerful post moves would beat the former Defensive Player of the Year.

Instead, he shot just 3-for-8 in the first half.

“At some point, somebody gotta figure it out," Green said. "Like, don’t target me in the post. I’ve been dealing with that my whole career. It used to piss me off, now it's like whatever. If y'all are going to do that, you'll probably lose.”

As Green's reached championship heights over the years, it's important to remember Griffin's role in Green's career. It was Griffin, then a member of the Clippers, who got under Green's skin in 2013 on Christmas Day, when both were ejected late in the second half of a Warriors win. It was Griffin and the Clippers who provided a stage for Green, then a role player, to break out in the 2014 Western Conference playoffs four months later, when Green averaged 11.9 points and 8.9 rebounds. And it was Griffin whom Green looked to as he hit a 3-pointer in the final moments of a Warriors win in 2014, one of the lasting images in the rivalry and the beginning of Golden State's current run.

This season, Griffin has been fantastic, averaging 24.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists, earning his sixth All-Star appearance last month. Now, years later, Green still gets up for the matchup against Griffin, even as he plays more than 2,000 miles away from Los Angeles.

"I enjoy playing against great players and taking on a challenge," Green said. "Blake is a great player, he's gotten a lot better since the last time I faced him and I try to be physical. Very strong, likes to go bully ball from time to time, just staying my ground and trying to make him take tough shots."

Green's performance also helped whip the stain of a 126-91 loss to the Mavericks on Saturday night. In the first half, the Warriors held the Pistons to 44 percent from the field and 21.4 percent from 3-point range. The outing came as the Warriors are trying to stay atop the Western Conference with nine games remaining.

[RELATED: Kerr on plan to rest Curry]

This season, Green has battled injuries, sideline shouting matches with superstar teammates and the expected failure to reach his goal of the Defensive Player of the Year award. But, at least for a night, the Warriors' heartbeat set the tone guarding the Pistons' best player.

"He takes the challenge when he faces Blake (Griffin)," Kerr said. "They have been going head to head for many years and its a hell of a challenge, Blake is tough as anybody to guard and Draymond was fantastic."