Several NBA coaches and players said they won’t pay the traditional annual visit to the White House as long as Donald Trump is in office. Coach Stan Van Gundy from the Detroit Pistons explained he is not willing to meet a president who is openly “racist and misogynistic.”
Coach Steve Kerr from the Golden State Warriors agrees. And the announcement is not a surprise since the league is predominantly black with four African-American super stars of which one publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton.
NBA analyst Jalen Rose’s explained on ESPN last week why this happened.
“Donald Trump, during his candidacy, he became a polarizing candidate, which included along the way insulting a lot of people,”
He added that more players may refuse to visit the White House citing various reasons just like Tom Brady did. Brady declined to pay Obama a visit after winning the championship citing a conflict in scheduling. That may happen again under President Trump.
An unnamed player from the Cleveland Cavaliers told Sports Illustrated that entire teams may skip the annual invitations from Trump. The Cavs have visited the White House on Thursday. But paradoxically, the team visited the Oval Office on the same day Trump met with Obama for the first time after the U.S. election. So, they did arrive at the White House when the brass billionaire was technically in the office.
The Cavs are the eighth team to secure a title during the Democrat president’s tenure. And no team broke with the tradition. Obama acknowledged that he has a passion for basketball with Chicago Bulls being his favorite team.
Other Athletes Declined White House Invitations
However, it is not the first time athletes refuse to visit the White House citing various reasons. There were cases when athletes from every major sport turned down the invitation under various pretexts, not necessarily political. And they said no to both Republican and Democrat presidents.
Brady is the latest example. His reason? A last-minute family commitment in 2015. Brady, on the other hand, endorsed Trump a few days before the Election Day, or at least this is what Trump said.
NBA champions did the same. For instance, Michael Jordan declined to meet with George H.W. Bush in 1991. When the media accused him of disrespecting the president, Jordan replied that he simply chose to spend time with his family.
Larry Bird brought up a similar excuse in 1984 in order not to meet with Ronald Reagan. But Bird was more caustic and told the president that if he wanted to see him, he knew where to find him. On the other hand, few players cited racism to skip the annual visit. Analysts say that athletes’ personal views should not be a reason to disrespect the nation’s highest office.
In addition, since the Warriors and Cavs are this season’s favorites to win the title, analysts’ predictions of similar incidents may soon morph into reality.
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