NBA champions won’t visit White House – LeBron, Curry agree
June 6, 2018
Since President Donald Trump disinvited the Philadelphia Eagles from their White House visit on Monday, roughly eight months after disinviting the Golden State Warriors this past September, the subject arose during media availability between Games 2 and 3 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday.
The response from Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, who has called Trump a “bum” who “doesn’t even care” about race relations in America, was as you might expect: He wouldn’t want to visit the White House anyway, and he doesn’t think anybody else still playing would want to, either.
Ditto for Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, who has called Trump an asset without the “et”:
Few Eagles and Warriors, if any, planned on visiting Trump’s White House even before he rescinded their invitations. This time around, the NBA is RSVP’ing before he has a chance to disinvite them.
The Warriors oppose Donald Trump’s divisiveness
Even though it’s practically a given at this point, it should be a bigger deal that nobody on the best two teams in the NBA wants to visit the White House, because players, coaches and executives believe the president’s rhetoric espouses racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. The White House visit was once a rite of passage for NBA champions. Now it’s a joke. This seems like it should be discussed.
Warriorsplayersfollowedsuit, similarly criticizing the president’s rhetoric and conduct throughout last season. Either before or after winning the championship, Curry, Kevin Durant, Shaun Livingston, David West and Andre Iguodala were all on record saying they did not want to visit the White House.
Even still, the Warriors were considering a visit “out of respect for the office” in June, and as late as September the organization was having backchannel discussions with the White House before a planned meeting to discuss the decision as a team. Kerr later revealed the final straw for the Warriors was when Trump referred to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback as a “son of a bitch” who deserved to be fired at an Alabama rally in late September. Kerr extrapolated on CNN in November:
“This is another reason why all of us on our team have a tough time with the president, because instead of unifying and trying to calm the storm, he’s creating it, over and over again,” Kerr told CNN’s David Axelrod. “We see it with his tweets every day. He used the words ‘sons of b****es’ to talk about NFL players who have made it clear they’re protesting racial inequality and police brutality,. Those are sons of b****es? Really? You’re the President of the United States and you’re going to call them sons of b****es? And you’re going to call Kaepernick out for non-violent protests, a staple of American democracy? That’s really hard to deal with. And for me that was probably the hardest one to deal with. The personal slights that we’ve seen from Trump, you sort of get used to it after a while, you get numb to it, but that one really stung, because it was so divisive and it was so angry and it just didn’t make sense.”
The morning after that rally, Trump rescinded his White House invitation, city Curry’s “I don’t want to go” statement as reason for becoming the first president in some time to not host the NBA champions:
On Tuesday, Durant saw the administration’s political grandstanding for what it really is:
LeBron James called the president a ‘bum’
It was then that LeBron James reentered the mix. He and countless other NBA stars leapt to Curry’s defense, and the “U bum” tweet directed at Trump sent shockwaves through the national media:
“That’s a pretty strong statement,” Curry said. “I think it’s bold, it’s courageous for any guy to speak up, let alone a guy that has as much to lose as LeBron does and other notable figures in the league. We all have to kind of stand as one the best we can. For me, the questions how things have gone all summer if I wanted to go to the White House or not, I told you yesterday being very transparent what my vote would have been in a meeting had we had one, based on just trying to let people know I didn’t want to be applauded for an accomplishment on the court when the guy that would be doing the patting on the back is somebody I don’t think respects the majority of Americans in this country.”
“He doesn’t understand the power that he has for being the leader of this beautiful country. He doesn’t understand how many kids, no matter the race, look up to the President of the United States for guidance, for leadership, for words of encouragement. He doesn’t understand that, and that’s what makes me more sick than anything. …
“Being the president of the United States is the most powerful position in the world. It’s the most powerful position in the world, and we are at a time where the most powerful position in the world has an opportunity to bring us closer together as a people and inspire the youth and put the youth at ease, saying that it is OK for me to walk down the street and not be judged because of the color of my skin or because of my race, and he has no recollection of that and he doesn’t even care.”
This reflected what James had already said in an Uninterrupted video about the president dividing the country by fanning the flames of racial tension following an alt-right march in Charlottesville, Virginia.
James: “The climate is hot. The No. 1 job in America, the appointed person is someone who doesn’t understand the people and really don’t give a f*** about the people. When I was growing up, there were three jobs that you looked to for inspiration or you felt like these were the people that could give me life: It was the President of the United States, it was whoever was the best in sports, and then it was like the greatest musician at the time. You never thought you could be them, but you can grab inspiration from them. If there was a neighborhood African-American cop, and he was cool as hell coming around, I felt like I could be him. I never felt like I could be the President of the United States, but I grabbed inspiration from that. At this time right now, with the President of the United States, it’s a bad time, and while we cannot change what comes out of that man’s mouth, we can continue to alert the people who watch us, that listen to us, that this is not the way.”
Durant: “When we’re talking about leadership and what’s going on in our country, it’s all about leadership, and I learned that playing basketball. I learned a lot of life skills from playing basketball. You need to empower people, you need to encourage people, and that’s what builds a great team. And I feel like our team as a country is not run by a great coach.”
James: “It’s not even a surprise when he says something. It’s laughable.”
Champion: “It’s laughable, but it’s also scary, because I shouldn’t be numb to your racist comments.”
The president, meanwhile, maintains that the Warriors’ invite was withdrawn because Curry was “hesitating” and the Eagles were disinvited because they don’t respect the country’s military, all statements made to mask this fact: NBA and NFL players, the majority of whom are black, do not want to visit the White House because they believe Trump is furthering the racial divide in America.
That should be a bigger deal to everyone in this country, even if most of us saw this coming.