Controversy over North Carolina’s House Bill 2 has now reached The Swoosh.
Earlier this week, women’s advocacy group UltraViolet began circulating an online petition urging Nike and PepsiCo — two chief sponsors of previous NBA All-Star weekends — to not support the 2017 event if it is held in Charlotte, N.C. The organization said today that more than 42,000 people have signed the petition.
The 2017 All-Star Weekend is scheduled for Feb. 17-19. While the official corporate sponsors have not been announced, Nike partner Michael Jordan was instrumental in bringing the All-Star Game to Charlotte. (He’s the principal owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.)
Nike sent this statement to Footwear News regarding the petition: “Nike strongly supports equality and inclusion for all. We oppose laws that facilitate discrimination as they hurt our employees, our customers, our business and society as a whole. We stand with other businesses and organizations against discriminatory laws across the country.”
The UltraViolet petition comes on the heels of numerous outcries against North Carolina’s recent anti-LGBTQ law, which was passed in March and prevents transgender individuals from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
Basketball legend Charles Barkley spoke out earlier this week, imploring the NBA to move the All-Star game out of North Carolina. He told CNN in an interview, “As a black person, I’m against any form of discrimination, against whites, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, however you want to phrase it.”
In addition, a number of corporations have expressed their disapproval of North Carolina’s HB2, including PayPal, which this week canceled its plan to open a new global operations center in Charlotte, costing North Carolina about 400 jobs.
So far, the NBA has been sticking with its plan for next year’s All-Star Weekend. After Atlanta officials offered their city as an alternative location, NBA spokesman Mike Bass issued this statement: “We appreciate the invitation but are hopeful that the city of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina can work through their differences far in advance of the 2017 All-Star Game.”