CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Felix Sabates was brimming over with emotion Friday, responding to the NBA's decision to pull the All-Star Game from Charlotte.
The Charlotte Hornets co-owner spoke with Channel 9 by phone, questioning the league's decision to move the game over House Bill 2. He also blamed Charlotte city council members for passing a bathroom provision in the city's nondiscrimination ordinance.
The provision allowed transgendered people to use the restroom based on the sex they identify with.
“They started the whole mess,” he said.
“It's not the governor. It's not the NBA. It's no one other than the city council.”
Sabates, who said he was caught off guard by the league decision, felt Charlotte also will loss credibility, along with the projected $100 million profit from the game.
He praised Hornets leaders Fred Whitfield and Michael Jordan for rebuilding a team once “in shambles” but said he didn’t expect either to respond any further regarding the 2017 NBA All-Star Game.
“The NBA is the one that controls your schedule, your television games, the NBA controls that,” he said. “I felt like I had to say something.”
The team along with Chairman Michael Jordan released the following statement Thursday responding to the move:
“We understand the NBA’s decision and the challenges around holding the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte this season.
There was an exhaustive effort from all parties to keep the event in Charlotte, and we are disappointed we were unable to do so. With that said, we are pleased that the NBA opened the door for Charlotte to host All-Star Weekend again as soon as an opportunity was available in 2019.
We want to thank the City of Charlotte and the business community for their backing throughout this entire process, starting with the initial bid. We are confident that they will be just as supportive and enthusiastic for the 2019 NBA All-Star Game.”
Mayor says city leaders not to blame for Charlotte losing NBA All-Star Game
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts is speaking out for the first time after Hornets co-owner Felix Sabates blasted city leaders for losing the NBA All-Star Game.
"Obviously, I'm extremely disappointed," said the mayor, speaking about the game which would have brought an estimated $100 million economic boost to Charlotte.
NBA leaders announced Thursday that they are pulling the game from Charlotte over the controversial House Bill Two.
On Saturday, Roberts told Channel 9 that the state and the governor hold all the power to make a change, and to stop future losses.
"What I would say is all the folks who are upset, don't worry about how this started, but worry about what the future is,” said the mayor. “The future is up to the state. Only the state can change what the state has done."
Roberts told Channel 9 she's now afraid the NBA's decision could jeopardize other events scheduled in Charlotte.
“We have concerns about every single convention and tournament,” she said.
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