LeBron James, Stephen Curry agree that next NBA champs won't visit White House

ByMarc J. Spears ESPN logo
Wednesday, June 6, 2018

CLEVELAND -- In light of President Donald Trump uninviting the 2018 Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles to the White House, LeBron James said neither his Cleveland Cavaliers nor the Golden State Warriors would accept a visit as a winner of the NBA Finals.

"I know no matter who wins this series, no one wants an invite anyway. It won't be Cleveland or Golden State going," James said during an off-day news conference on Tuesday.

Trump rescinded the Eagles' invitation to the White House on Monday after learning that many of the players did not plan on attending. ESPN's Adam Schefter previously reported that "a large group of Eagles players had decided not to attend, including most -- if not all -- of the black players." The NFL Network reported that fewer than 10 players were expected to attend.

James was very vocal when the 2017 champion Warriors were uninvited to a possible trip to the White House by Trump. A three-time Finals MVP, James described Trump's rescinding of an invite to the Eagles as "typical of him."

"As long as he's in office, then the communication and things like that are going to continue to happen," James said about Trump. "It's a lot of things that we believe in as Americans that we don't feel that he's for. There are a lot of people that believe that he's not for the people or doing things that's right by the people. So, it's not surprising hearing the news today with the Eagles. But I think more importantly, as Americans and especially people in Philadelphia, we shouldn't let that news take away from what that unbelievable team did and accomplished, what all those players did to sacrifice throughout each and every Sunday, going out and playing the style of football that they played and winning a Super Bowl the way they won it.

"Let's not let that accomplishment of things that you will have for the rest of your life, and people will always call you a champion for the rest of your life, let's not let someone uninviting you to their house take away from that moment," he continued. "Because I think the championship -- winning a Super Bowl or winning a Stanley Cup or winning a World Series or winning an NBA championship or national championship -- is way bigger than getting invited to the White House, especially with him in there, in my opinion."

The Warriors, in lieu of going to the White House, spent that day taking a group of children to the National Museum of African American History and Culture a few miles away.

The WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx were not invited to the White House to celebrate their most recent title, something James called "laughable." Instead, the Lynx will spend Wednesday giving away new sneakers to more than 300 needy kids in Washington.

Villanova, the reigning NCAA men's champion, has not revealed if an invitation was sent. Many members of the U.S. Olympic Team that competed earlier this year in South Korea did not attend a White House reception.

Hockey's Pittsburgh Penguins, baseball's Houston Astros and NASCAR champion Martin Truex have accepted invitations to the White House for the traditional meeting with the President in recent months, as have several college teams. When the New England Patriots went last year, half the team chose not to attend.

Stephen Curry said on Sept. 22 during the Warriors' media day that hopefully the champions could "inspire change" by not going to the White House to celebrate their title. Curry and the Warriors did go to the White House to celebrate their 2015 NBA championship. On Sept. 23, Curry woke up to the laughter of his wife, Ayesha, who revealed to him Trump's announcement on Twitter that the Warriors' offer to visit the White House was rescinded because "Stephen Curry is hesitating."

Curry agreed with James that the Warriors will not visit the White House if they are champions again. Curry sounded proud of the Eagles players who decided not to go to the White House.

"I decided to speak out on me not wanting to go to the White House last year. And every team that has won a championship since then has gone through that," Curry said. "So many people want to chime in. ... How, I guess, social media is used today, the conversation can get out of control with so many different voices. I know a guy from the Eagles, wide receiver who played on the Super Bowl-winning team last year, and he broke it down pretty verbatim of how his process went with his discussions with his teammates and how he wanted to keep the focus on what the conversation should be and not the anthem and not Trump's policies and how he's been overshadowing the NFL and all that type of stuff.

"So, that's refreshing that he's educating people along the way. I think that's important. If you focus on who is saying the right things, you shouldn't get lost in the noise that's going on right now."

Golden State's Kevin Durant said he agrees with James and Curry.

"What else do you expect Trump to do? When somebody says they don't want to come to the White House, he disinvites them so the photo op don't look bad," Durant said. "We get it at this point. It's good that guys are sticking to what they believe in and what they want to do. Like guys said before me, I'm sure whoever wins this series won't be going."

Warriors coach Steve Kerr has been open about his disdain for Trump and also has been outspoken about gun violence, police brutality and racial inequality. Kerr said he would not have a problem with one of his players protesting the national anthem in the vein of bringing notice to police brutality and racial inequality as former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick did.

"You have to understand that what players have protested is not the military," Kerr said. "They're protesting police brutality and racial inequality. So, if any American wants to protest that any time, that's their right as Americans. That's what the military fights for, is free speech. So, I would be perfectly fine with any of our players doing so. I think the point I was trying to make a couple weeks ago is that the NBA has always been very much a partner with the union and with the players in this issue. I don't think it's a coincidence that we have gone through this together and there haven't really been any issues in the NBA.

"Players are very socially active. Teams and management and the league itself are very supportive of not only community service, of course, but political commentary. So, it's just a partnership. That's the point I was making, comparing it to the NFL."

Kerr added that he was not surprised by Trump's rescinding of the invitation to the Eagles. He also saluted Eagles players Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Long for being vocal against police brutality and racial inequality. Kerr also took a dig at Trump by adding that "it will be nice when we can get back to normal in three years."

"The president has made it pretty clear he's going to try to divide us, all of us in this country, for political gain," Kerr said. "So, it's just the way it is. I think we all look forward to the day when we can go back to just having a celebration of athletic achievement and celebrate Americans for their achievement, their good deeds.

"The irony is that the Eagles have been nothing but fantastic citizens in their own community. They've done so much good. I've read a lot about their team. Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long -- these guys are studs. They're amazing."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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