Trump Rescinds Warriors' White House Invitation; Could Team Be Next To Protest?
President Trump over the weekend rescinded the Warriors' White House invitation, and now the team must decide if it will "join many of its peers in the NFL, WNBA and even MLB by protesting during the national anthem," according to Connor Letourneau of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, "It's not something we're talking about right now." The Warriors "recognize that they have a big platform as one of the most popular teams in the NBA." Warriors players "expect to talk about their options as a group" before deciding whether they will protest ahead of their preseason game Saturday against the Nuggets. Warriors F Andre Iguodala said that the Warriors "don't necessarily have to take a stance during the anthem" to make their message heard (S.F. CHRONICLE, 9/25).
END OF STORY: ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne noted the Warriors have been "answering questions" about going to the White House since June. Everyone in the organization and the NBA league office "recognized the responsibility of the decision." This would "serve as a precedent for future NBA champions and a litmus test for champions in other sports." But Trump "ended all debate" this weekend. Now, instead of the "well-reasoned, calm, decision-making process the Warriors, NBA and senior White House officials had worked for months to set up, there was suddenly no choice to attend or not attend, and no chance at civil discourse at all." Kerr said, "It was an actual chance to talk to the president. After all, he works for us. He's a public servant. He may not be aware of that, but he is a public servant, right? So maybe as NBA champions, as people in a prominent position, we could go in and say, 'This is what's bothering us, what can we do about this?'" Warriors co-Owner Joe Lacob said, "There had been discussions between our camp and his camp all summer. He knew there would be a discussion and decision (Saturday). And that was all usurped by a tweet. I find that rather disconcerting" (ESPN.com, 9/23).
BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO: Kerr said, "I was not surprised. He was going to break up with us before we could break up with him. That's the way it goes" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/24). Kerr in a special to SI.com wrote, "The hard part is knowing what to do now. ... I’ve probably been as critical of Trump as anybody but maybe it’s time to take a different course. There’s no need to get into a war of words. It’s about trying to hang on to the values that are important to us as an organization, a country, and, really, as human beings." Kerr: "You're the president. You represent all of us. Don't divide us" (SI.com, 9/24). Instead of visiting the White House, the Warriors said they will do something to "celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion -- the values we embrace as an organization." The team is "considering visiting the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture" in DC (S.F. CHRONICLE, 9/24).
CURRY COMMENTS: Trump rescinded the invitation following comments Warriors G Stephen Curry made Friday. Curry said, "I don’t know why he feels the need to target certain individuals rather than others. I have an idea of why, but it’s kind of beneath the leader of a country to go that route. It’s not what leaders do." Kerr added, "We would, in normal times, easily be able to set aside political views, and go visit and have a great time. ... The president made it really, really difficult for us to honor that institution" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/24). In DC, Tim Bontemps wrote what is notable in this situation is "not only Curry being willing to speak out about this forcefully, but to do so in a direct affront" to Trump. It is a "stark change from how Curry has historically comported himself." It is also one that "everyone, given the nature of the topic, will notice" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/23). In S.F., Scott Ostler wrote Curry is "not only the Warriors’ leader, and maybe the strongest team leader in sports." But he just "took over as the leader of whatever you want to call it -- the Athlete Resistance?" Everyone around the country "doesn’t love Curry like we do here in the Bay Area, but they’re looking at him in a whole different light now" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 9/24).
TAKING THE HIGH ROAD: In S.F., Al Saracevic wrote the Warriors "didn't slink from the spotlight." Of the players and execs who "spoke to the media Saturday, all sat and answered questions on the matter, taking the high road" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 9/24). In San Jose, Dieter Kurtenbach wrote Trump "picked a fight" that he "cannot win" against the Warriors. If there is one team in the world that is "equipped to handle a ridiculous, unprecedented, media duel with Trump, it’s the Warriors" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 9/24). Curry said, "It was amazing to see all of these guys (NBA players) rally around each other. That's what this is about. I commend and applaud everyone that’s spoken up. That’s what we are supposed to do. It’s really important" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/24). In N.Y., Benjamin Hoffman wrote the days of superstar athletes being "unwilling to speak their minds for fear of damaging their earnings or reputation appear to be at an end" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/24).