Upon hearing that Steph Curry had no interest in a White House visit, nor was Curry interested in a kumbaya moment with a President who is energized by hostility while accomplishing less than zero, the wounded feelings of the President went into overdrive and he publicly disinvited the NBA champions from his lawn when they visit the city in February. It was a typically self-involved reaction that has become ordinary behavior for Donald Trump whereas he seethes after he is socially shamed by those who despise him. In the case of Curry, the President overreacted to the preference of Curry wanting to stay far away from Trump, kind of like you do with someone who makes your skin crawl.
Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala had no interest in a White House visit either but the rest of the Warriors had yet to draw a line in the sand, neither had the Warriors organization, including Joe Lacob, Warriors owner. They were going to make a collective decision after talking with everyone. But a bloodthirsty Trump from his Twitter pulpit disinvited the Warriors like a six year old disinvites the boy next door who won’t sit with him on the bus.
This NBA bus isn’t stopping at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and instead will invest in community activities that afternoon in the district.
Steph Curry, who was singled out by the President of the United States, found the entire episode (it took on a social media tsunami life) “surreal”.
“I don’t know why he feels the need to target certain individuals, rather than others. It’s kind of beneath a leader of a country to go that route. That’s not what leaders do.” (Steph Curry)
Curry was supported without equivocation by his NBA Finals competitor, LeBron James, who wasn’t feeling particularly generous towards the President and eviscerated Trump by calling him “U bum” then explaining that Trump couldn’t disinvite someone who said he wasn’t coming in the first place. “@StephenCurry30 already said he ain’t going! So therefore ain’t no invite. Going to the White House was a great honor until you showed up.”
“We all know how much sports brings us together. For him to try to use this platform to divide us even more is not something I can stand for and not something I can be quiet about.” (LeBron James.)
With his Trump invective, LeBron was defiantly opposing the man who writes his checks. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert was a Trump donor during the campaign and hosted a Detroit fundraiser for wealthy donors. (Gilbert made sure his name wasn’t attached to it though for obvious reasons.)
In that surreal way Curry mentioned, antipathy for Trump seeps out of NBA players pores, current and past. It is the stars that are speaking out, not the middle class.
Chris Paul: “With everything that’s going on in our country, why are YOU focused on who’s kneeling and visiting the White House.” Paul also snapped back at Trump calling NFL players who kneel for the national anthem son of b—–. Paul said, ” I doubt he’s man enough to call any of those players a son of a b—– to their face.”
Draymond Green: “Still wondering how this guy is running our country.”
Kobe Bryant: A #POTUS whose name alone creates division and anger. Whose words inspire dissension and hatred can’t possibly “Make America Great Again”.
The ritual of going to the White House is historical. President Andrew Johnson hosted the Washington Nationals and Brooklyn Atlantics in 1865. Ulysses S. Grant did his part for the Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1869. The 1924 Washington Senators won the World Series and went to the White House.
The NBA’s history at the White House began with John F. Kennedy when the Boston Celtics held court in 1963. The ritual intersects athletic excellence with political power and influence.
Steph Curry is not an outlier by saying no thank you. Larry Bird didn’t hang out with Ronald Reagan in 1984 and had a priceless response. “The president knows where to find me.” Michael Jordan didn’t chill with George H. Bush in 1991 even though the significance of Jordan’s first title may have made the photo opportunity politically correct. But MJ was MJ. He played golf instead.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had hoped the Warriors would attend so the players would have an opportunity to speak directly to Trump and air their grievances. However, Silver is proud of their not blinking in an important moment that distinguishes them as separate from other athletes. The NBA players aren’t afraid to put their reputation, endorsement money and fan adoration on the line to defend morality and racial justice. In other words, be the man Trump can never be. Be the change you want in the world.
Steph Curry’s decision, juxtaposed with Trump’s defiling of NFL players who kneel for the national anthem, set fire to the tired and lazy throwaway line that athletes should forget their human citizenship and just stick to sports. Athletes cannot just stick to sports, particularly with a megalomaniac narcissist in the White House.
“By not going, hopefully, it will inspire some change for what we tolerate in this country and what we stand for, what is accepted and what we turn a blind eye toward.” (Steph Curry)