It is has become a fashionable and popular theory in these few days since the Golden State Warriors won the NBA championship that the team would boycott the traditional champions’ White House visit over their distaste for Donald Trump. The spread of this rumor has become a case study in “Fake news ‘til you make news,” and the initially unfounded speculation has gained fast-break momentum as the team is now being asked about it regularly and signs like this are becoming a part of the Warriors championship celebration today. But this question has now been posed, and new precedents on presidential visits may be set considering Trump’s views on race and the fact that golly, many pro athletes are African-American, particularly in the NBA.
Championship sports teams visiting the White House is an entirely useless tradition that was very occasionally practiced as far back as the 1860s. (President Reagan streamlined a process that all championship teams would be invited for a White House photo op, but it was never a policy decree).
EXCLUSIVE: NBA championship winning Warriors decide unanimously as a team they will boycott White House invitation to meet President Trump. pic.twitter.com/cTQoOKdiLw— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) June 13, 2017
Official statement from the Warriors pic.twitter.com/59PmJ9IflX— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) June 13, 2017
Within five hours, Warriors PR was forced to put out the statement, “Today is all about celebrating our championship. We have not received an invitation to the White House, but will make those decisions if and when necessary.”
Steph Curry saying, at this point, he wouldn't go to White House, but team hasn't had discussion pic.twitter.com/zVWo7qRj0Y— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) June 14, 2017
In other words, this basketball team is punting on the decision. But the topic is now a hot-button issue, and star players are being asked to weigh in. Steph Curry, who has groused about Trump in the past, was asked directly on Wednesday and said, “Obviously as a team, we’re going to have a conversation,” Curry said. “We’ll handle that according and responsibly, and do the right thing individually and for us as a group.”
Andre Iguodala was less diplomatic, telling USA Today “Hell nah,” when asked if he’d visit the White House. But in reference to the entire team, he said “We’re going to do what our leader (Curry) does.”
Warriors Coach Steve Kerr has been exceptionally sharp in his criticism of Trump, but has taken no stand since the team won the title. But Kerr is quoted in today’s Chronicle from the taping of a weeks-old podcast saying, “There’s a respect for the institution, for the office,” and, “There’s a respect for our government that I think you have to take into account, regardless of people’s opinions of the person sitting in that chair. I think it’s important, but it’s also important for the players because it’s really about them to make the decision whether they want to go or not.”
You’d have to wonder if Trump, an extraordinarily thin-skinned man, is watching any of this on TV (he is) and simply deciding he won’t invite Warriors in the first place rather than endure the indignity of a refusal. If that scenario plays out, this Warriors title will have made history in more ways than one.
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