President Donald Trump responded Friday to two NBA stars’ statements this week that they would not visit the White House if their teams won the NBA Finals this year. He said they’re not invited.
What led up to this?
Trump on Monday abruptly canceled the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles’ visit to the White House, claiming it had to do with the NFL protests during the playing of the national anthem.
“The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow,” the president’s statement said. “They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country.”
However, none of the Eagles’ players took a knee during the national anthem last season.
What did LeBron James say?
On Tuesday, reporters asked Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James for his thoughts on the Trump/Eagles imbroglio.
James, whose team is facing off against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, made it clear that he and his teammates had no interest in visiting the Trump White House should they take the title. And he was pretty sure that the Warriors were on the same page.
“That’s typical of him,” James said of the Eagles cancellation. “I’m not surprised.”
“I know no matter who wins this series, no one wants to be invited anyway,” he continued. “It won’t be Golden State or Cleveland going.”
“Let’s not let someone uninviting you from their house take away from their championship,” James said later, Sports Illustrated reported. “Winning a championship is way bigger than getting invited to the White House, especially with him in it.”
LeBron James addresses controversy over Pres. Trump uninviting the Philadelphia Eagles to the White House.
— ABC News (@ABC) June 5, 2018
What did Steph Curry say?
Later that day, Warriors point guard Steph Curry said he agreed with James.
“Any team that wins the championship is going to be in that decision-making situation where you got to do what is in the best interests of your team and handle that accordingly,” Curry began, addressing the Eagles’ disinvitation.
Curry said he hopes his team is in the situation where, as champions, they even have an opportunity to make that decision together.
“I agree with Bron,” Curry said. “Pretty sure the way we handled things last year, [we’ll] kind of stay consistent with that.”
Curry was referring to the Warriors’ decision not to visit the White House after winning the 2017 championship.
Steph Curry weighs in on the Philadelphia Eagles being uninvited from the White House. pic.twitter.com/PpYVVaWPUO
— NBA TV (@NBATV) June 5, 2018
What did Trump say in response?
As he prepared to leave for the G7 summit in Canada Friday morning, reporters asked the president his thoughts on James’ and Curry’s remarks, as well as the ongoing controversy surrounding championship teams visiting the White House.
Trump indicated that the basketball stars’ opinions don’t matter — they’re not invited anyway.
“I didn’t invite LeBron James, and I didn’t invite Steph Curry. We’re not going to invite either team,” he said.
The president noted that other teams have been happy to visit the White House.
“But we have other teams that are coming,” Trump said. “If you look, we had Alabama — national champion. We had Clemson — national champion. We had the New England Patriots. We had the Pittsburgh Penguins last year.”
“I think we’ll have the Caps. I mean, we’ll see,” Trump added, referring to the Washington Capitals, who won the NHL Stanley Cup Thursday night over the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
Ultimately, Trump noted, for the teams that reject him — the feeling’s mutual.
“If they want to be here, it’s the greatest place on Earth. I’m here. If they don’t want to be here, I don’t want them,” he said.
Trump on NBA champion visiting the White House (LeBron and Curry both said their teams wouldn't visit): "I didn't invite LeBron James, and I didn't invite Steph Curry. We're not gonna invite either team. But we have other teams that are coming." pic.twitter.com/xh7PYUhCWM
— Axios (@axios) June 8, 2018
This isn’t the Warriors’ first time dealing with this
As Curry noted, last year the Warriors, who had just won the 2017 NBA championship, had a serious discussion about whether the team would visit the White House if they were invited.
Curry at the time said he wanted his team to forego the White House visit as a protest against Trump and to “inspire” change.
“By not going, hopefully that will inspire some change in terms of what we tolerate in this country,” Curry said.
Before the team made an official decision, Trump announced they weren’t welcome.
“Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!” Trump tweeted.
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
In February, instead of going to the White House to be recognized, the team spent a day with Washington, D.C., kids and took them to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.