The city of New Orleans is set to host the NBA All-Star Game this weekend. But it wasn’t supposed to.
The game had been awarded to Charlotte, N.C., several years ago. When the state government refused to repeal its anti-LGBT HB2 law, NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced the league would pull the game from the state. He stuck to his word.
Now New Orleans with all of its glitter and beads — and various protections for LGBT people — will host the game. In selecting New Orleans, the NBA is highlighting one of the more inclusive states and cities in the South. Got to believe that was either intentional or a welcome side effect.
The people of New Orleans aren’t letting the opportunity pass them by. Mayor Mitch Landrieu posted photos on Twitter from an LGBT equality event attended by openly gay former NBA player Jason Collins, who is in New Orleans for the big weekend.
While Louisiana is in the deep South, there are a number of protections for LGBT people the state, along with the city of New Orleans, provides. The state currently bars anti-LGBT discrimination in state employment (those protections have been on-and-off since 1992). The state allows same-sex couples to adopt children (though there are still some hurdles for some).
Louisiana has also had a hate-crimes law for 20 years that includes sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation.
New Orleans bars discrimination against anyone based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The All-Star Game airs Sunday at 8pmET on TNT. There’s also a celebrity game airing on Friday at 7pmET on ESPN. While sadly there are no publicly out LGBT people on the rosters, of note are the captains of the celebrity teams, friends of Outsports Michael Smith and Jemele Hill, hosts of The Six on ESPN.
New Orleans last hosted the NBA All-Star Game in 2014. Three years is the shortest period a city has hosted two All-Star Games since St. Louis hosted in 1962 and 1965.