Celtics co-owner: ‘Appropriate’ for NBA to consider status of North Carolina All-Star Game

Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca.
Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca. –The Boston Globe

Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca said it is “appropriate” that the NBA review the status of the league’s 2017 All-Star Game. The setting of the basketball extravaganza, scheduled to be played in Charlotte, North Carolina, has come into question after state lawmakers there rushed to pass a bill last week that the NBA has condemned as discriminatory to the LGBT community.

Following last Wednesday night’s passage of North Carolina House Bill 2, the league issued a statement the following day opening the possibility of a venue change.

“The NBA is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for all who attend our games and events,” the league said. “We are deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect and do not yet know what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte.”

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In an interview Tuesday, Pagliuca said he supported the league’s actions so far.

“It’s appropriate that the NBA is very concerned with HB2 in North Carolina and is assessing the potential impact on the All-Star Game,” Pagliuca said.

Pagliuca declined to say whether he would support actually pulling the game from Charlotte if the law remains in place, deferring to the league.

Several national sports commentators have called on the NBA to move the game in protest of the law.

The North Carolina law prevents cities and towns from establishing local laws meant to protect individuals from discrimination in public accommodations and in employment based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. It also mandates that transgender people must use public restrooms that are consistent with the gender on their birth certificate rather than how they identify.

The law was passed quickly after a special legislative session to preempt a local ordinance in Charlotte that required businesses not to discriminate against transgender people, including where they use the bathroom. (Some NBA fans who oppose the North Carolina law have questioned online whether it would be fair to take the game from Charlotte, since the city had sought to pass a law considered LGBT-friendly.)

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In addition to the NBA, several major American businesses and LGBT advocates have sharply criticized the law, and it has already spurred a lawsuit from the ACLU.

Pagliuca has been supportive of a pending Massachusetts bill that would outlaw discrimination against transgender people in public accommodations — such as hotels, restaurants, and retail stores. The law would include allowing people to use bathrooms based on their gender identity.

Pagliuca, who is also a managing director at Bain Capital and last year served as chairman for Boston’s failed Olympic bid, has taken part in a public advocacy push organized by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey calling on lawmakers to pass the bill.

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Others participating in Healey’s effort include Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron, transgender reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. The Celtics have also expressed their support for the bill as an organization, as have the region’s other pro sports teams.

Pagliuca called on Bay State legislators to pass the law again on Tuesday.

“I hope Beacon Hill passes the bill and Massachusetts will again remain the leader [on LGBT rights],” he said.

Other Boston entities in opposition to the new North Carolina law include Northeastern University, which has a campus in the state, and Cambridge-based Biogen. The Boston City Council is also expected to consider an ordinance that would bar the city from funding travel to North Carolina in response to the new law.

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