The National Basketball Association will not hold its annual All-Star Game in Charlotte next year due to North Carolina's so-called "Bathroom Law" limiting anti-discrimination protection for LGBT people, the league announced Thursday.
The league had expressed its opposition to the law known as HB2 since it was enacted in March, and its decision Thursday came shortly after stage legislators revisited the law and chose to leave it largely unchanged.
"While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2," the league said in a statement.
The league says it hopes to announce a new location for next February's events shortly, and that it also hopes to reschedule the 2019 game for Charlotte.
"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," Charlotte Hornets chairman and Hall of Famer Michael Jordan said. "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."
The North Carolina law, enacted earlier this year, directs transgender people to use public toilets corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificate. The law also excludes LGBT people from state anti-discrimination protections and blocks local governments from expanding LGBT protections.
"We are disappointed that Commissioner Silver has decided to cancel the League’s commitment to the City of Charlotte, the Charlotte Hornets, and the people of North Carolina over the League’s desire to give in to the bullying by radical left-wing groups like the Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC," said Tami Fitzgerald, Executive Director of NC Values Coalition in a statement.
"The League has decided that advancing a political agenda that embraces allowing grown men into the bathrooms and showers of young girls is more important than protecting the privacy and safety of their fans," her statement continued.
On Monday, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory enacted several minor changes to the law, including a provision that restores workers' ability to use state law to sue over workplace discrimination, but leaves sexual orientation and gender identity unprotected.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver repeatedly expressed his concerns about the law. While in Las Vegas last week for the NBA's Board of Governors meeting, Silver told reporters, "We were frankly hoping that they would make some steps toward modifying the legislation, and frankly I was disappointed that they didn’t."
In April, a month after the legislation was enacted, Silver told the Associated Press Sports Editors meeting that that the league had been "crystal clear" that the law needed to be changed to create "the kind of environment that we think is appropriate for a celebratory NBA event."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.