In an almost prophetic moment last month in DC, the executive director of the NBA Players Association (the NBPA) alleged that if the Cleveland Cavaliers or Golden State Warriors won the National Basketball Association championship, neither team would accept an offer to visit the White House. A former DC public defender and litigation attorney, Michele Roberts doesn’t know for sure what either team will do, but she’s a smart woman who knows her players and their views on the new administration.
Now that the Cavaliers and the Warriors are in the NBA finals, an invitation from the White House will not likely be accepted. Roberts noted that leaders on both teams do not support the new administration.
In fact, during the 2016-2017 season, players from the Cavaliers refused to even stay at Trump SoHo in New York while playing the Knicks. Lebron James, who campaigned for Hillary Clinton in Ohio, has since been vocal about his dislike of the president. Steph Curry said the new president is an “ass” while countering positive remarks about Trump from his sponsor, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, earlier this year.
They’re Not Outliers, Either
Since Lebron and Steph also have leadership positions within the NBPA, their peers hear and respect their voices. Further, the president of the NBPA, Chris Paul, has been open since the election about his distaste of Trump’s personal conduct and public policy. Based on public interviews and social media, it seems almost no one in the NBA supports the new presidential administration—not even coaches or owners.
Steve Kerr, Golden State’s head coach, went so far in a Sports Illustrated interview as to call the president a “blowhard” and said he was “ill-suited” to be a leader. While the owners of the Golden State Warriors may not have the best relationship with all of their players, they support players’ wants and will do whatever it takes to see the team succeed.
Additionally, Golden State owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are rumored not to have good relations with the new president. In 2016, after then-candidate Donald Trump made outlandish comments about trading the Golden State Warriors for the Great Wall of China to place along the border of Mexico, the owners and Trump exchanged words about how eminent domain works, with President Trump stating he could show them, using lawyers.
When asked about how the NBPA was handling the general dislike for the new administration, Roberts offered nothing but respect and praise for her players. She mentioned how, despite some of the largest Twitter followings on social media, the players had not used their platforms to cause problems or be provocative. She said they had expressed their views throughout the season thoughtfully and respectfully, and the union had no complaints about the way the men had conducted themselves to that point.
As the NBA season comes to a close, it is uncertain whether the president will invite the winning team for a White House visit. But if, in keeping with tradition, he does, he shouldn’t expect to find takers in the NBA.