President Donald Trump on Saturday tweeted that he was withdrawing his offer to visit the White House after the Golden State Warriors’ star point guard, Charlotte native Steph Curry, said he was hesitant to visit the president.
It wasn’t immediately clear if he was withdrawing the invitation just for Curry or for the whole Warriors team.
The Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 3-1 in this year’s NBA finals, making them league champions. Historically, the champions of the four major sporting leagues in the United States – the NBA, along with the NHL, NFL and MLB – visit the White House and meet with the president after winning their titles.
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On Friday, Curry told reporters that he did not want to go to the White House. By not going, Curry said he hoped to send a message, “that we don’t stand for basically what our president has – the things that he’s said and the things that he hasn’t said at the right times – that we won’t stand for it.
“By acting, and not going, hopefully that will inspire some change when it comes to what we tolerate in this country, what is accepted and what we turn a blind eye toward. … That’s kind of where I stand on that. I don’t think us going to the White House will miraculously make everything better, but this is my opportunity to voice that.”
Players and coaches have said throughout the offseason that they would meet as a group and decide together whether or not to accept Trump’s invitation.
NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant has publicly come out and said he would vote in that group setting for the team to not make the visit. When asked by ESPN in a recent interview if he agreed with Durant’s decision, Curry said he clearly was.
“I’m on that same tip,” Curry told ESPN. “And obviously you don’t want to rush your decision on understanding the magnitude of what this means. We have an opportunity to send a statement that hopefully encourages unity, encourages us to just appreciate what it means to be American and just stand for something.”
In a statement Saturday, the Warriors said the team will use the February trip to Washington, D.C., to “celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion — the values that we embrace as an organization.
“While we intended to meet as a team at the first opportunity we had this morning to collaboratively discuss a potential visit to the White House, we accept that President Trump has made it clear that we are not invited,” the Warriors said in their statement. “We believe there is nothing more American than our citizens having the right to express themselves freely on matters important to them.”
Trump’s invitation withdrawal was quickly condemned by athletes who pointed out Curry was already against going to the White House.
Dell Curry, Steph Curry’s father and former Charlotte Hornet, said he supports his son’s decision “100 percent.”
“I know he respects the OFFICE of the Presidency and I applaud him for standing up for what he believes in,” Dell Curry told the Observer via text message on Saturday.
Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James tweeted Curry “already said he ain’t going! So therefore ain’t no invite. Going to the White House was a great honor until you showed up!”
Former Lakers star Kobe Bryant also criticized Trump, and said “A #POTUS who’s name alone creates division and anger. Who’s words inspire dissension and hatred can’t possibly ‘Make America Great Again’ .”
Ayesha Curry, Steph Curry’s wife, responded directly to Trump’s tweet by sending him a link to a UNICEF donation page for the relief efforts after an earthquake struck Mexico City on Tuesday.
“Okay...Donate to earthquake relief here!!!” she tweeted.
Trump has not hesitated to weigh in on the intersection of sports and politics, saying Friday night that NFL players who protest during the national anthem should be fired and advocating for fewer penalties for hard hits, even as the league struggles with a concussion crisis.
Trump has also criticized sports broadcaster ESPN after one of its anchors, Jemele Hill, called him a white supremacist on Twitter.
Hill also took to Twitter after Trump withdrew the invitation and said “You can’t be uninvited to something you weren’t going to anyway.”
McClatchy reporter Greg Hadley contributed