President Donald Trump withdraws White House offer to Golden State Warriors
Catherine Lucey and Tim Reynolds | The Associated Press
SOMERSET, N.J. — Stephen Curry and President Donald Trump agree on one thing: The Golden State star is not going to the White House anytime soon.
Trump tweeted Saturday that Curry is no longer invited to the White House because of what the president called hesitation by the two-time NBA MVP in deciding whether to make the traditional champions’ trip to Washington. Trump’s comment on Curry came one day after the president told NFL owners to fire players who won’t stand for the national anthem.
It was not immediately clear whether Trump was rescinding the invitation for Curry or the entire team.
“Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!” Trump wrote from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
The Warriors said it was made clear to them that they were not welcome at the White House. They said that when they go to Washington this season they will instead “celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion – the values that we embrace as an organization.”
Curry had said he did not want to go anyway, but the Warriors had not made a collective decision before Saturday – and had planned to discuss it in the morning before the president’s tweet, to which coach Steve Kerr said : “Not surprised. He was going to break up with us before we could break up with him.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver weighed in with his disappointment that the league’s champion will not be going to the White House.
“I was in favor of the team visiting the White House and thought it was a rare opportunity for these players to share their views directly with the President,” Silver said. “I am disappointed that that will not happen. More importantly, I am proud of our players for taking an active role in their communities and continuing to speak out on critically important issues.”
Other athletes weighed in quickly, including LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 23, 2017
Curry appreciated James’ strong stance.
“That’s a pretty strong statement,” Curry said. “I think it’s bold, it’s courageous for any guy to speak up, let alone a guy that has as much to lose as LeBron does and other notable figures in the league. We all have to kind of stand as one the best we can. For me, the questions how things have gone all summer if I wanted to go to the White House or not, I told you yesterday being very transparent what my vote would have been in a meeting had we had one, based on just trying to let people know I didn’t want to be applauded for an accomplishment on the court when the guy that would be doing the patting on the back is somebody I don’t think respects the majority of Americans in this country.”
James offered a larger comment several hours later, saying Trump’s comments were “something I can’t stand for.”
— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) September 23, 2017
Speaking after Saturday’s practice, Curry said Trump’s comments were “beneath the leader of a country.”
Warriors general manager Bob Myers said Saturday he was surprised by the invitation being pulled.
“The White House visit should be something that is celebrated,” Myers said. “So we want to go to Washington, D.C. and do something to commemorate kind of who we are as an organization, what we feel, what we represent and at the same time spend our energy on that. Instead of looking backward, we want to look forward.”
Added Warriors coach Steve Kerr, after his team’s first practice of the season: “These are not normal times.”
Trump’s latest entry into the intersection of sports and politics started in Alabama on Friday night, when he said NFL players who refused to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” are exhibiting a “total disrespect of our heritage.”
Several NFL players, starting last season with then-San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have either knelt, sat or raised fists during the anthem to protest police treatment of blacks and social injustice. Last week at NFL games, four players sat or knelt during the anthem, and two raised fists while others stood by the protesters in support.
Other players have protested in different ways over the past season since Kaepernick began sitting during the 2016 preseason.
“That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” Trump said, encouraging owners to act. He added, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired.”
On Saturday, Trump echoed his stance.
“If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem,” Trump wrote in an afternoon pair of tweets. “If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
Plenty of other current and former stars from across sports weighed in Saturday. Richard Sherman of Seattle Seahawks said the president’s behavior is “unacceptable and needs to be addressed.” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell strongly backed his league’s players, calling Trump’s words “divisive” – as did New York Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, who also said the president’s comments were inappropriate and offensive.
“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities,” Goodell said in a statement.
Trump also bemoaned what he called a decline in violence in football, noting that it’s “not the same game” because players are now either penalized or thrown out of games for aggressive tackles.
“No man or woman should ever have to choose a job that forces them to surrender their rights,” DeMaurice Smith, the NFL Players Association executive director, said Saturday. “No worker nor any athlete, professional or not, should be forced to become less than human when it comes to protecting their basic health and safety.”
The NBA Players Association also expressed its concerns about these recent developments.
“The National Basketball Players Association defends its members’ exercise of their free speech rights against those who would seek to stifle them. The celebration of free expression – not condemnation – is what truly makes America great.”
By acting and not going, hopefully that will inspire some change when it comes to what we tolerate in this country and what is accepted and what we turn a blind eye to.
Stephen Curry on going to White House
Trump has met with some teams already in his first year in office.
Clemson visited the White House this year after winning the College Football Playoff, some members of the New England Patriots went after the Super Bowl victory and the Chicago Cubs went to the Oval Office in June to commemorate their World Series title. The Cubs also had the larger and more traditional visit with President Barack Obama in January, four days before the Trump inauguration.
And if the Warriors don’t want to meet with Trump, they may still get a welcome in Washington: House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California has said she would like to bring the team to the Capitol.
North Carolina, the reigning NCAA men’s basketball champion, said Saturday it will not visit the White House this season. The Tar Heels cited scheduling conflicts.
Warriors forward Draymond Green said the good news was that Golden State won’t have to talk about going to the White House again – unless they win another title during the Trump presidency.
“Michelle Obama said it best,” Green said. “She said it best. They go low. We go high. He beat us to the punch. Happy the game is over.”
Reynolds reported from Miami. AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in Oakland, California, and AP writer Corey Williams in Detroit contributed to this story.