President Donald Trump made a pre-empitve strike on Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors on Saturday morning, withdrawing an invitation not yet made for the NBA champions to visit the White House.
Trump tweeted his displeasure with Curry and the rest of the Warriors after reports that the team planned to meet this fall to discuss whether to travel to the White House to celebrate their victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Warriors stars Steph Curry and Kevin Durant had expressed qualms about the visit.
“Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team,” Trump tweeted. “Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!”
While Curry did not respond Saturday, later in the day the Warriors issued a statement saying the team supported citizens’ rights to freely express themselves and that it still intends to visit Washington.
“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.”
James was particularly sharp in his rebuke of Trump: “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!”
Under Armour initially tweeted that it “stands by our Athletes for free speech, expression and a unified America,” but it deleted that tweet and issued another striking a more measured note: “.@UnderArmour stands for the flag and by our Athletes for free speech, expression and a unified America.”
The president typically initiates White House visits in a call to the owner or coach of a championship team. It’s become customary for champions of major American sports such as football, baseball, basketball and hockey to receive invites as well as Olympic gold medal winners.
The New England Patriots and Chicago Cubs have both visited the Trump White House.
In an interview Friday, reported by USA Today, Curry said he’d prefer not to visit the White House and explained the message he was trying to send.
“That we don’t stand for basically what our President has — the things that he’s said and the things that he hasn’t said in the right times, that we won’t stand for it,” Curry said. “And by acting and not going, hopefully that will inspire some change when it comes to what we tolerate in this country and what is accepted and what we turn a blind eye to. It’s not just the act of not going there. There are things you have to do on the back end to actually push that message into motion.
“(Athletes are) all trying to do what we can. We’re using our platforms, using our opportunities to shed light on that, so that’s kind of where I stand on it. 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.”
Saturday’s fracas with the NBA champions followed Trump’s comments Friday at a campaign rally in Alabama where he took on NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem to protest racism and police violence.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired!” Trump told the crowd.
On Saturday, Trump followed up in a pair of tweets:
“If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL,or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect…. ...our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
Trump’s Friday comments prompted a firestorm of reaction from NFL players.
On Saturday morning NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement: “The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. … Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of out players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and our players represent in our communities.”