On the morning after the Golden State Warriors’ NBA championship win, someone going by the name of “Downtown Josh Brown” tweeted that the Warriors had unanimously decided to skip their White House visit, crediting “reports” as his source. This created quite the stir across the World Wide Web.
NBA champion Warriors skipping the White House visit, as a unanimous team decision per reports.
— Downtown Josh Brown (@ReformedBroker) June 13, 2017
One random post by a New Yorker using a Twitter bio that reads “Chairman of the Twitter Federal Reserve, star of CNBC’s The Halftime Report, CEO of Ritholtz Wealth Management” spread so far and wide that the Warriors actually had to issue a statement addressing the issue on Tuesday morning:
Per Warriors: We have not received an invitation to the White House, but will make those decisions when and if necessary.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) June 13, 2017
However, a report from CSN Bay Area’s Monte Poole later in the day brought a bit more credibility to the thought that the Warriors had already decided to decline an invitation, should it come:
Kerr told NBCSportsBayArea.com last November that if the Warriors were to win the NBA Finals, he would not accept an invitation to visit the White House.
Those were Kerr’s feelings then, but he felt it would be presumptuous to express them publicly during the middle of a season. Now that the Warriors have the championship, taking out the Cavaliers in five games, don’t expect that to change.
The Warriors are prepared to make a political statement, multiple sources confirmed to NBCSportsBayArea.com Tuesday afternoon.
So, the Warriors technically could have unanimously voted to skip their White House visit and not been invited yet. The team’s statement indicated that no final decision had been made, but it’s not outlandish to believe that the Warriors reached a consensus within 24 hours of winning the title.
Four days after winning the 2016 championship, the Cleveland Cavaliers publicized the phone call former President Barack Obama made to coach Tyronn Lue and an email Obama sent to LeBron James.
When @POTUS calls, you answer.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) June 24, 2016
Current President Donald Trump welcomed the 2016 NCAA champion Clemson Tigers to the White House on Monday, and presumably the Warriors will receive an invitation soon. John F. Kennedy was the first to host an NBA team at the White House, celebrating his hometown Boston Celtics in 1963. While players from Larry Bird to Michael Jordan have declined invites for reasons both political and innocuous, the White House visit has become a tradition for champions of American sports.
Asked on ESPN’s First Take if the team would attend the White House if invited by Trump, Warriors owner Joe Lacob evaded the question as a live audience booed behind him, answering only, “I can’t believe we’re getting this question already, but honestly that’s something we’ll worry about at the time. That’s a long time from now.” He threw his hands up and called it a “good answer — a politically correct answer,” and when pressed further on it, he turned the focus to the championship parade.
Despite a skeptically sourced report and a denial by the team that any decision has been made, there is a legitimate question as to whether Golden State will be the first team to decline an invite in recent memory. NBA players, coaches, executives and owners have all been on the forefront of anti-Trump sentiment, and members of the Warriors have arguably been the league’s most outspoken contingent.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr has described Trump as “a blowhard” who “routinely used racist, misogynist, insulting words” during his campaign and has penned shockingly “horrible” policy since.
“The man who’s going to lead you has routinely used racist, misogynist words,” Kerr said the day after the election. “That’s a tough one. That’s a tough one. And I wish him well, I hope he’s a good president. I have no idea what kind of president he’ll be because he hasn’t said anything about what he’s going to do. We don’t know. But it’s tough when you want there to be some respect and dignity and there hasn’t been any. And then you walk into a room with your daughter and your wife, who have basically been insulted by his comments, and they’re distraught. And you walk in and you see the faces of your players, and most of them who have been insulted directly, as minorities. It’s sure shocking. It really is. We talked as a team this morning. I don’t know what else to say. But just the hole process has left all of us feeling disgusted and disappointed.”
“We’re just in for a very different type of administration, where we’ve got to brace for a different type of leadership, unlike anything this country has ever seen,” West told CSN Bay Area of Trump in January. “For a lot of folks, they’re just trying to see what he’s going to do next. What’s going to happen? Some of the things he’s said, the things that he’s backed up, the things he’s projected of himself out onto the world, I don’t think anybody expected him to be able to get elected to such a prestigious and powerful seat in this country.”
Teammate Shaun Livingston was even more to the point. When asked in February if he would visit the White House during Trump’s administration, if given the chance, he said, “I definitely wouldn’t go.”
Warriors star Stephen Curry followed by essentially calling Trump an “ass” in February. Asked if he agreed with Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank saying the president is “a real asset to the country,” the company’s top endorser countered, “I agree with that description, if you remove the ‘et’ from asset.”
Finally, Warriors forward Andre Iguodala was asked after the title-clinching Game 5 about a trip to Trump’s White House, and told USA Today that, “Hell nah,” he wouldn’t take part in a visit.
NBA players from other teams, including the Cavs, as well as former players turned commentators, have also said they would not visit the White House under Trump. Individuals declining White House invitations is not out of the ordinary, as several members of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots proved again upon citing political reasons for not attending their team’s visit in April, but an organizational decision to reject a sitting president’s championship invite would be revolutionary.
Still, there are those who contend teams — even those full of dissenting views — should attend the White House out of respect for the office. Kobe Bryant suggested as much last week. Commissioner Adam Silver even positioned the visit as a chance to express any oppositional views to the president.
Back in February, Livingston suggested the team’s decision would likely require some thought, and that Kerr’s opinion would carry significant weight with the team. That was around the same time Kerr’s mentor, Gregg Popovich, said of Trump, “I hope he does a great job, but there’s a difference between respecting the office of the presidency and who occupies it. And that respect has to be earned.”
– – – – – – –
More NBA Finals coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Durant wins NBA Finals MVP award after winning first title
• Stephen Curry smokes championship cigar live on TV
• NBA Finals winners/losers: Steve Kerr is a champion again
• LeBron was the first person to congratulate Kevin Durant
• Even ‘Jeopardy’ is taking shots at Kevin Durant for joining the Warriors