Washington (AFP) - Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant said Thursday he would boycott the White House if the NBA champions are invited, accusing President Donald Trump of escalating racial tensions in the country.
In an interview with ESPN, 2017 NBA Finals MVP Durant said if the Warriors were invited to Washington in keeping with recent tradition of honoring sports teams, he would skip the event in protest.
"Nah, I won't do that," Durant told ESPN at an event in his hometown of Seat Pleasant, Maryland. "I don't respect who's in office right now...I don't agree with what he agrees with, so my voice is going to be heard by not doing that."
Durant stressed that his decision was a personal choice, but added that he expected many Warriors players would follow suit if the team was invited.
"That's just me personally, but if I know my guys well enough, they'll all agree with me," Durant said.
Durant's team-mate Stephen Curry has already said he would be unlikely to attend while Warriors coach Steve Kerr has been a vocal critic of Trump.
Durant was speaking amid an outcry over Trump's response to violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend which saw neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups clash with counter-protesters.
Durant said he believed Trump bore responsibility for stoking racial divisions in the United States.
"He's definitely driving it," Durant said. "I feel ever since he's got into office, or since he ran for the presidency, our country has been so divided and it's not a coincidence. When (Barack) Obama was in office, things were looking up. We had so much hope in our communities where I come from because we had a black president, and that was a first.
"So to see that and to be where we are now, it just felt like we took a turn for the worse, man. It all comes from who is in the administration. It comes from the top. Leadership trickles down to the rest of us.
"So, you know, if we have someone in office that doesn't care about all people, then we won't go anywhere as a country. In my opinion, until we get him out of here, we won't see any progress."
Durant meanwhile saluted athletes who have spoken out about race in America, citing former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and NBA superstar LeBron James amongst others.
"As far as what's going on in our country, for one as an athlete, you have to commend Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, CP3 (Chris Paul), Dwyane Wade for starting that conversation last year.
"For us to move forward, we need more athletes and people of power and influence to come out and speak," Durant added.
"It's great to see a lot of athletes coming together and trying to direct a positive path for a lot of kids and a lot of people in this country who look up to us.
"It's huge for us. It's huge for sports. It's huge for the influence we have, because we're leaders at the end of the day. It feels good to see my brothers in the NBA and across sports speaking out."