After the NBA announced its decision to pull the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, N.C. in response to the controversial bathroom bill in place there, NBA players shared their reactions to the move.
The league said it could not host the game in Charlotte “in the climate created by HB2,” the name for the bill that requires transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding with the gender on their birth certificate and has been criticized as being anti-LGBTQ.
Warriors star Stephen Curry said he was disappointed the game wouldn’t be held in his hometown, but added that he understood the decision to move it.
“Just, I know how much that would have meant to the city to be able host the greatest NBA guys and celebrate the game of basketball,” Curry said on ESPN. “I know the league is in a position where they have to make a decision. And Adam Silver’s made one, and we support that. But at the end of the day, I love my city. I love Charlotte. I love everything about it. I love the people there. I really wanted to see them celebrate the game. It’s unfortunate they won’t be able to do that.”
Hornets owner Michael Jordan released a statement after the announcement, also expressing his disappointment.
“We understand the NBA’s decision and the challenges around holding the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte this season. There was an exhaustive effort from all parties to keep the event in Charlotte, and we are disappointed we were unable to do so. With that said, we are pleased that the NBA opened the door for Charlotte to host All-Star Weekend again as soon as an opportunity was available in 2019. We want to thank the City of Charlotte and the business community for their backing throughout this entire process, starting with the initial bid. We are confident that they will be just as supportive and enthusiastic for the 2019 NBA All-Star Game.”
New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony said he felt bad for Jordan and the Hornets, and said he was surprised the game was actually moved, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
“Aside from all the politics, I feel bad for MJ because I knew what that was going to do for the city of Charlotte. It was definitely going to boost everything, for him being able to bring All Star weekend to Charlotte. I feel bad for him and for the NBA too. We as players didn’t think it was going to get to this. It’s unfortunate....It’s a big decision for the NBA to pull it away from Charlotte. I guess we’ll see what happens from here now.”
Former NBA player Jason Collins, who was the first openly gay player from one of the four major sports, said he was proud of the NBA for it’s decision to stand up against discrimination.
“As a member of the NBA family and as a gay man, I’m extremely proud to see the NBA take initiative and move the All Star Game from North Carolina. Their decision is an extremely poignant one and shows that discrimination of any kind is not welcome in sports and is not acceptable in any part of our society. The NBA has set the best kind of example and precedent moving forward for all to follow.”
Indiana Pacers forward Paul George was less supportive of the move.
“I’m huge on keeping your word,” he told ESPN. “I’m not necessarily saying it's bad for the NBA to move it. Charlotte is a growing city, and the Hornets have picked that program up. It's a shame it's possible that we'd take that away from them.”
Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who is from North Carolina, also lamented the move, but noted that “some things are bigger than the game.”
New Orleans is reportedly the new site favored to host the game, but it could return to Charlotte as soon as 2019, assuming changes are made to the legislation.
Regardless of location, the 2017 All-Star Game will be held on Feb. 19.