The NBA All-Star Game returns to Charlotte after a controversial relocation in 2017 due to the North Carolina toilet bill. So the question is: was the time right for the return of the NBA?

CHARLOTTE – Just a few months ago, Rick Welts, the most openly gay NBA leader, did not know if he wanted to attend the All-Star Weekend in Charlotte because of Carolina's anti-LGBTQ law. North, learned USA TODAY Sports.

According to two people familiar with the situation, the President and CEO of Golden State Warriors was hesitant about this decision. Both persons requested anonymity because they were not allowed to speak publicly about Welts' decision.

Welts, a long-time NBA leader who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018, will be participating in the All-Star Weekend, but this required conversations with Governor Roy Cooper, local officials, and Charlotte executives. Hornets.

Welts declined to comment by a spokesman for the team.

Golden State Warriors chairman Rick Welts did not know he would attend the NBA All-Star weekend because of North Carolina's anti-LGBTQ law. (Photo11: Kyle Terada, USA TODAY Sports)

If Welts had not attended the evening, it would not have caused waves among the fans. But inside the NBA, it would have been a major reprimand and a low point for the league.

Welts is considered the father of the modern All-Star game and was the influential voice behind convincing homeowners to move the 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte to New Orleans because of Bill 2 in North Carolina, the anti-LGBT law use public toilets of their sex at birth and exclude homosexuals and transgender people from protection against discrimination.

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At the 2016 NBA Summer Owners' Meeting in Las Vegas, Welts delivered a poignant but measured speech. Welts explained who he was – a man who began his career in the NBA as a baseball player for the Seattle SuperSonics, then rose through the ranks in the team's public relations department and then at the NBA headquarters in New York. New York.

He was instrumental in revitalizing the All-Star weekend in the mid-1980s, making it a more user-friendly event for players and fans alike. He was a key figure in the marketing of the 1992 Dream Team for the Barcelona Olympics, which remains a crucial moment for the global growth of the NBA.

He told the owners that if the league decided to retain the all-star game in Charlotte in 2017, he would not participate if the law was not changed or repealed. He did not convey the message as a threat and said other NBA employees had told him they would not feel comfortable in Charlotte.

The owners decided to move the game.

"After this announcement, a law entitled" HB2 "was passed in North Carolina, which, according to the league's office and many others, discriminates against the LGBTQ community," said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on Saturday. "We then decided that it was inconsistent with the values ​​of this league to play the game of stars here in these circumstances."

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North Carolina repealed the law and replaced it with HB142. He amended the part of the law on toilets, but prevented local governments from issuing their own ordinances. It was enough for the NBA to bring the event to Charlotte for 2019.

LGBTQ supporters still find the law unsettling and, in his comments to reporters Saturday, Silver recognized him.

"For a lot of people, it does not go far enough, and I sympathize with those who think there is still no adequate protections for the LGBTQ community," he said. "But I also thought that, from a league point of view, it was important and as part of our core values, working with people and ultimately moving forward with the community."

The NBA has created "Equality Principles" for All-Star Partners to make sure everyone is welcome.

A guideline: "Each partner shall be required to give to any person the right and the opportunity to fully enjoy the goods, services and facilities of any public accommodation place that he provides, without discrimination of any kind, based on sexual orientation, gender identity or any other legal source, protected feature. "

Welts is there, as are Jason Collins, the first openly gay player in the NBA, and Reggie Bullock of the Los Angeles Lakers, a native of North Carolina whose transgender sister Mia Henderson was stabbed to death.

Instead of taking a short break during the break, Bullock met LGBTQ children in the Charlotte area, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"It was good for me to be here with them, talk to them and hear their stories," Bullock told the newspaper. "They have not stopped, that has opened my eyes to what they have to live every day, because when you pass randomly in front of someone, you never know what's going on." He lives … I try to educate him every day as a right man on this community that I stand for and support. "

Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt

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