On Friday Sept. 22, less than a day after many prominent members of the Golden State Warriors said that they didn’t want to visit the White House, point guard Stephen Curry ‘doubled down’ on his stance that he wants nothing to do with US President Trump.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters that the team would decide, as a team, whether to accept the White House invitation.
Curry was the most outspoken about not wanting to accept the invitation. He explained his feelings last Friday, saying:
“That we don’t stand for…what our president has – the things he’s said and the things 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. It’s not just the act of not going; there are things you have to do in the back end that you have to push that message into motion.”
“You can talk about all the different personalities that have said things and done things – from [NFL free-agent quarterback Colin] Kaepernick, to what happened with [Seattle Seahawks defensive end] Michael Bennett, to all sorts of examples of what has gone on in our country that has led to change. We’re all trying to do what we can using our platforms, using our opportunities to shed light on that. That is kind of where I stand on that. I don’t think us not going to the White House is going to miraculously make everything better… [but] this is my opportunity to voice that.”
Curry, who has long been critical of Trump and his administration, said during a press conference Friday night that he was strongly against heading to D.C. and that he would tell his team as much when they discussed the matter.
“I don’t want to go,” he said bluntly.
Several key members of the Warriors have spoken out against Trump. Coach Steve Kerr has been among the most vocal critics of the president’s policies, most notably his entry ban on travelers and refugees from six Muslim-majority countries.
US President Donald Trump tweeted, Saturday:
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the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!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
Trump, in his tweet, was unclear whether he was withdrawing only Curry’s invitation or the entire team’s.
“We accept that President Trump has made it clear that we are not invited,” the Warriors wrote in the statement. “We believe there is nothing more American that our citizens having the right to express themselves freely on matters important to them. We’re disappointed that we did not have an opportunity during this process to share our views or have open dialogue on issues impacting our communities that we felt would be important to raise.
“In lieu of a visit to the White House, we have decided that we’ll constructively use our trip to the nation’s capital in February to celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion — the values that we embrace as an organization.”
Trump’s lashing out against certain professional athletes went further Saturday afternoon, when he tweeted that players who want “the privilege of making millions of dollars” in the NFL and other leagues then shouldn’t be allowed “to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem.
“If not, YOU’RE FIRED,” he said. “Find something else to do!”
Trump’s presidency has spurred some in the sports community to be more vocal about their political views.
“I don’t respect who’s in office right now,’ NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant said last month.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told The Players’ Tribune in July he believes teams should visit the White House when invited, though also said he would not order anyone to make such a trip.
DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, said in a statement on Saturday that the peaceful demonstrations “are protected speech and a freedom that has been paid for by the sacrifice of men and women throughout history.”
Still, “the line that marks the balance between the rights of every citizen in our great country gets crossed when someone is told to just ‘shut up and play,'” Smith said.
Since Kaepernick’s show of defiance, a number of other NFL players have followed suit. The debate has overshadowed the start of football season, where ratings have tumbled sharply as some viewers protest teams’ refusal to pick up Kaepernick, while others have opted to avoid the politicized displays.
Earlier this month, ESPN SportsCenter host Jemele Hill described the President as a “bigot” and a “white supremacist.” Later tweeting:
You can’t be uninvited to something you weren’t going to anyway pic.twitter.com/oZVmDn5ClH
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 23, 2017
Cleveland Cavaliers superstar Lebron James, and Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul backed Curry and took a shot at President Trump.
James called Trump a ‘bum’, in a tweet, after the president withdrew Curry’s White House invitation.
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
With everything that’s going on in our country, why are YOU focused on who’s kneeling and visiting the White House??? #StayInYoLane
— Chris Paul (@CP3) September 23, 2017
Golden State visited Barack Obama after winning the title in 2015.