(Reuters) - Hornets co-owner Felix Sabates has blasted the NBA’s decision to move the 2017 All Star Game out of Charlotte, North Carolina due to its objections to a state law decried as discriminatory against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
The NBA has been opposed to House Bill 2, or HB2, since it was passed in March and tried to work with local governments to change the law before ultimately making a decision of relocating its mid-February exhibition.
The law made North Carolina the first U.S. state to require transgender people to use restrooms in public buildings and schools that match the sex on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity.
In an email obtained on Friday by the Charlotte Observer, Sabates said the decision was "short sighted" and hit out at the city council, who he said was responsible for the game being taken away from Charlotte.
"Shame on those responsible for such a shortsighted decision to take the NBA All Star (Game) away from Charlotte,” Sabates wrote. “I always thought this was a country that ALL peoples not just a few can determine our future.”
Following Thursday’s decision, the Hornets issued a statement saying they understood the decision.
“We understand the NBA's decision and the challenges around holding the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte this season,” it read. “There was an exhaustive effort from all parties to keep the event in Charlotte, and we are disappointed we were unable to do so.”
Sabates, however, said the mayor had "opened a can of worms" and that a minority of people had forced "our supposed city leaders into creating a problem that never really existed".
"This is plain wrong. This could cause irreparable damages to children that don't understand why they have to see what God did not mean for them to witness.
"We have some very confused business as well as political humans that frankly have made this a political issue rather than moral issues. SHAME ON THEM.”
The NBA has said that the All Star Game, which generates millions of dollars in economic activity, could be rescheduled for Charlotte in 2019 if there was an "appropriate resolution to this matter.”
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford)