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NBA All-Star Game will return to Charlotte in 2019 after HB2’s minor changes

House Bill 2, which was discriminatory against the LGBT community, was replaced with HB-142. That was enough for the NBA despite HB-142’s minimal structural changes.

NBA: All Star Game-Commissioner Press Conference Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA and the city of Charlotte have finalized a deal to bring the 2019 All-Star Game to the largest city in North Carolina, the league announced Wednesday. It is the first time the city will host one of the league’s most popular events in 28 years.

"We are thrilled the league has awarded NBA All-Star 2019 to the city of 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,” Hornets owner Michael Jordan said in a statement on Wednesday. “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.”

The league originally tabbed Charlotte to host the 2017 All-Star Game but moved the event to New Orleans after North Carolina passed House Bill 2, a controversial bill that discriminated against the LGBT community.

HB2 forced all cities and counties to allow legal discrimination against the LGBT community at public places like restaurants and hotels, while also prohibiting transgender people from using bathrooms that coincide with their gender identity in government-run buildings. Instead, they were forced to use the bathroom that matched their birth certificate. (For a complete breakdown on HB2, check out this explainer piece.)

Newly elected state governor Roy Cooper signed a compromise bill — House Bill 142 — that repealed HB2. But HB142 didn’t go far enough. In fact, some viewed the compromise bill as counteractive, as it banned local governments from passing anti-discrimination ordinances in cities and counties for three years.

The American Civil Liberties Union felt HB142 fell short of ensuring equality for the LGBT community.

"North Carolina’s new law does nothing to guarantee that LGBT people will be protected from discrimination,” ACLU legal director Chris Book said in a statement to SB Nation. “The LGBT community deserves clarity on how the NBA can guarantee an environment free of discrimination, as required for All-Star games, when state law continues to single out and subject transgender athletes, coaches, and fans to unequal treatment."

NBA commissioner Adam Silver vehemently opposed HB2, saying as much prior to the 2017 All-Star Weekend. He addressed the compromise bill in a statement Wednesday morning.

“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,” Silver said. “Sports have a long history of helping to change attitudes around important social issues. We believe holding our All-Star activities in Charlotte will be a powerful way for the NBA to continue this tradition.”

Gov. Cooper responded to the NBA’s decision as well, calling it “positive news for Charlotte” that will “pump millions of dollars into our economy” and remind the city of the work ahead that will help ensure equal rights and protections in his state.

“I'm glad the NBA recognizes the progress we've made and will continue to be a partner as we push for statewide LGBT protections,” he said in a statement.

The 2018 All-Star Game will be hosted by Los Angeles.