The morning after the Golden State Warriors won the 2017 NBA championship, the question began to circulate. Would the Warriors decline an invitation to go to the White House — one first extended by the sitting president to the newly crowned NBA champion in 1963, when John F. Kennedy welcomed Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics, and a regular annual occurrence since the Reagan administration — to meet with President Donald Trump?
From head coach Steve Kerr to two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry to veteran reserves David West and Shaun Livingston, the Warriors have been very open about their opposition to the policies, attitudes and comportment of President Trump before winning it all. They are likely not alone on that score; Cavaliers swingman Richard Jefferson said last November, when Cleveland celebrated its 2016 title by meeting with then-President Barack Obama, “Words cannot express the honor I feel being the last team to visit the White House tomorrow.” (Obama, no longer working at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, reportedly texted Warriors star Kevin Durant after Golden State’s Game 5 win to compliment him on his defense.)
Now that they’ve done it, despite an official team statement that no decision had been made on an as-yet-untendered invitation, the questions are only growing louder. The Warriors began answering them on Wednesday.
Curry told reporters during the Warriors’ day of season-ending exit interviews that his preference would be to decline an invitation, according to Anthony Slater of the Bay Area News Group:
Steph Curry saying, at this point, he wouldn't go to White House, but team hasn't had discussion pic.twitter.com/zVWo7qRj0Y
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) June 14, 2017
“Somebody asked me about it a couple months ago, a hypothetical, if a championship were to happen: ‘What would I do?’” Curry said. “I think I answered that I wouldn’t go. I still feel like that today.” […]
Curry said a few of the players have had “side conversations” before on the subject, but “you don’t plan anything until you win the championship.” Now they brace for the parade on Thursday. And NBA title teams don’t typically visit the White House until the next season, usually when they play the Washington Wizards.
“Nothing is going to distract from what we were able to accomplish together and the different kind of ceremonies and traditions that have happened around championship teams, we don’t want that to taint what we accomplished this year,” Curry said. “So we’ll handle that accordingly and responsibly and do the right thing … I’ll personally do the right thing for me and I know the team will have a conversation about what’s going on. Probably more to come on that.”
Kevin Durant, fresh off winning his first NBA championship and earning Finals MVP honors along the way, declined to answer questions about whether he’d attend if the president extended the invitation, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:
“We just won a championship,” Durant said Wednesday. “I can guarantee that wasn’t on anybody’s mind as we were enjoying it. We haven’t even talked [about] it. I haven’t even thought about it until I heard it yesterday that it was even talked about. That’s a long way away. I’m sure we will have a conversation about it pretty soon. We got the parade. We just won a title. Let us enjoy that and we will figure it out …
“I have a take, but I’m going to leave it to myself right now. That’s not important, my take on that. It’s about us supporting this championship. And we are going to move forward with that when we have a chance to.”
During a Wednesday appearance on ESPN’s “The Lowe Post” podcast, Kerr — who said earlier this season he wouldn’t accept an invitation to Trump’s White House, according to CSN Bay Area’s Monte Poole — told ESPN’s Zach Lowe that the Warriors “haven’t even gotten that far” in terms of discussing how they’d handle an invitation were one to arrive. The discussion begins around the 7:30 mark of their conversation:
“We haven’t even gotten that far and all those reports are false. It may be that a couple of players have been asked about it. I think Andre [Iguodala] and Draymond [Green] may have been asked about it, and David West. We never had any discussion about it, either during the season — that obviously would have been premature, that’d be bad karma to talk about that. But after the game that’s the last thing on our minds. We’re just trying to celebrate and enjoy everything.”
So I saw all these reports, and I’m picturing — you know, we’re going crazy in the locker room, pouring champagne on each other’s heads and I’m picturing this scene where I go in and say, “Hey everybody, everyone be quiet, let’s take a vote on whether we want to go to the White House.” Are you insane? That’s not going to happen. We’re having too much fun for that.
That’s something we’ll discuss if we get the invitation. I think there’s a respect for the institution, for the office. There’s a respect for our government that I think you have to take into account, regardless of people’s opinions on the person sitting in that chair. I think that’s important. But it’s also important for the players, because it’s really about them, to make the decision whether they want to go or not. So that’ll be a process, but, as I said, we have to get the invitation first. We’ll see what happens.
It’s possible the Trump administration declines to invite the Warriors to avoid the public-relations fiasco of a potential rejection. It’s possible he extends the invitation and the Warriors decide to make their appearance and take advantage of what NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently called “an opportunity that most citizens who have a political point of view would kill for — the opportunity to directly tell the president of the United States how they feel about an issue.” It’s possible they visit and, in the words of CSN’s Poole, “make a political statement.” How this all resolves remains very much up in the air.
Whichever tack the Warriors take, as veteran swingman Andre Iguodala told Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports during the Finals, it’ll likely be charted by the two-time MVP.
“We’re going to do what our leader [Curry] does,” he said. “I think we handle [the White House situation] when it gets there. I mean, it may be different. There might be somebody different in [office]. That’s a realistic thing to say though, right? So you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
As for Iguodala’s vote?
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