Donald Trump said Friday morning that the eventual NBA champions, whether they be the Golden State Warriors or the Cleveland Cavaliers, will not be invited to the White House since prominent members of both teams have said they don’t want to go.
As USA Today reports, both Steph Curry of the Warriors and LeBron James of the Cavs had publicly said that they’ll skip the customary visit to the White House if their team wins the NBA championship. Trump made it clear that he would rather not invite either team if some of their players don’t want to come.
“I didn’t invite LeBron James, and I didn’t invite Steph Curry. We’re not going to invite either team.”
The announcement follows the news that Trump had disinvited the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles from the traditional post-championship White House visit because some of their players have not stood for the national anthem.
“(The Eagles) disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country.”
In fact, none of the Eagles players have taken a knee for the anthem since the whole controversy began, as CNN contributor Michael A. Nutter points out.
The tradition of championship sports teams visiting the White House after their victory has been going on for a century, give or take, beginning with the World Series champion Washington Senators visiting Calvin Coolidge in 1924. As Rolling Stone reports, it took a while for that tradition to spread to all major sports in the U.S. – the NFL didn’t get on board with it until the Carter administration.
Even before Trump, some athletes have chosen to skip the post-championship White House visit over their disagreements with the sitting president. For example, going back to the Reagan administration, Larry Bird wanted no part of being in the same room with Ronald Reagan, according to The Orlando Sentinel. Similarly, Michael Jordan declined the opportunity to visit George H.W. Bush.
But as USA Today writer Tom Schad points out, “the tradition [of championship teams and athletes visiting the White House] has become increasingly controversial under Trump.”
Meanwhile, the most recent sports champions to be crowned are the Washington Capitals, who wrapped up the Stanley Cup championship this week. Trump is pretty sure they’re coming, saying, “I think we’ll have the Caps. We’ll see.” However, at least one Capitals player has said he’ll be skipping: Devante Smith-Pelly said he’ll skip the visit because of his disagreements with Trump, according to The Hill.