Fresh off winning their second NBA Championship in the last three seasons, the talk about the Golden State Warriors quickly turned to whether or not the team would visit President Donald Trump at the White House. Within hours of defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5, CNBC’s Josh Brown tweeted, “NBA champion Warriors skipping the White House visit, as a unanimous team decision per reports.” Brown later said on Twitter, “I have no idea if its true, hence ‘per reports.'” The tweets were later deleted, but the news spread and the team issued a statement clarifying their current position.
“Today is about celebrating our championship. We have not received an invitation to the White House, but will make those decisions, when and if necessary.”
Several Warriors including Stephen Curry, David West, Shaun Livingston and coach Steve Kerr, have been outspoken regarding President Trump and his rhetoric.
“Are we promoting change?” Curry asked in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News last February. “Are we doing things that are going to look out for everybody? And not being so self-serving that it’s only about making money, selling shoes, doing this and that. That’s not the priority. It’s about changing lives. I think we can continue to do that.”
West echoed Curry’s sentiments when speaking with reporters after Election Day.
“Just about every sort of political group you can name, folks agree with his positions. And you can’t deny that because folks voted for him,” West told reporters. So I think … this whole fairy tale about a post-racial utopia that Obama supposedly created? It’s all … it’s all bull. That’s the bottom line when you look at what the results say from last night. This nation has not moved a thread.”
Back in January, West doubled down on his earlier comments on President Trump.
“All the tactics he used to get elected are the very things that someone like me, who works with youth on a consistent basis, are the things we try to talk our young folks out of being,” he said. “We try to talk our young people out of being bullies. We try to talk our young men out of disrespecting women. We try to talk our young people into being accepting of other people’s opinions and other people’s walks of life.”
Livingston, the team’s backup point guard, said in February that if the Warriors win the title he wasn’t going to the White House because his “views” would keep him from visiting and going.
Kerr once described President Trump as “blowhard” who is “ill-suited” to be president.
While the Warriors’ plans to visit the White House were prematurely reported, U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi invited the team to visit the Capitol via Twitter on Tuesday.
“The @Warriors’ leadership is inspiring. I’d be honored to welcome the team to the U.S. Capitol. #DubNation,” Pelosi tweeted. Her district includes the Bay Area.
According to Thomas Nuemann of ESPN, the tradition of championship teams visiting the White House goes back to at least Aug. 30, 1865, when President Andrew Johnson welcomed the Brooklyn Atlantics and Washington Nationals amateur baseball clubs. Ulysses S. Grant played host to the first professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, in 1869. The first World Series championship team to show up at the White House is believed to be the 1924 Washington Senators, invited by Calvin Coolidge. John F. Kennedy, possibly the Boston area’s most famous citizen, invited Red Auerbach and the Celtics to the White House in 1963 when the team was in the middle of the most dominant decade possibly in all of American sports. American teams and individual athletes from all sports have traditionally visited the president after winning a championship or medal. Some, like Tom Brady of the New England Patriots when the team visited then-President Obama, didn’t go with the team for reasons from personal to political.
Earlier this year, several black members of the New England Patriots also punted on visiting the White House after winning the Super Bowl earlier this year. Since Trump took office, NBA insiders like Jalen Rose have said that there’s a good chance it will be a long time before you’ll see the basketball champs, no matter what team wins, visiting 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.