Golden State Warriors small forward Kevin Durant, the 2017 NBA Finals MVP, told ESPN on Thursday that he would not visit the White House if he and the NBA champion Warriors are invited.
Durant, who has never been particularly outspoken on political issues, said he wouldn't visit the White House because he doesn't "respect who's in office right now," referring to President Donald Trump.
It has long been a tradition for championship teams from major college and professional leagues to take a celebratory visit to the White House to meet the president, although the Warriors have not yet been invited.
Most recently, the defending NFL champion New England Patriots visited, surrounded by some controversy about how many players and staff appeared to have not attended.
"I don't agree with what he agrees with, so my voice is going to be heard by not doing that," Durant said. "That's just me personally, but if I know my guys well enough, they'll all agree with me."
Durant did clarify, however, that his decision did not necessarily represent the views of the Warriors franchise.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has been an outspoken Trump critic (he once called him a "blowhard") in the past but has said he wants the team to be open to the idea of visiting out of respect. Guards Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala have both indicated they would not attend.
A Washington, D.C., area native, Durant blamed Trump for escalating racial tensions and fueling the increase in public white supremacist activity in the U.S., saying things have taken a turn for the worst since former President Barack Obama left office and Trump was sworn in.
"I feel ever since he's got into office, or since he ran for the presidency, our country has been so divided, and it's not a coincidence.," Durant said. "When [Barack] Obama was in office, things were looking up. We had so much hope in our communities where I come from because we had a black president, and that was a first.
"In my opinion, until we get him out of here, we won't see any progress," Durant said.