OAKLAND – Will the Golden State Warriors visit President Trump’s White House now that they’ve been crowned champions of the NBA?
Anyone who has paid attention to this group since Trump’s ascent to power began knows where they stand on this front. From coach Steve Kerr and back-to-back MVP Stephen Curry on down, they have been vocal critics of the president and his principles — or perceived lack thereof.
Just last month, Kerr called Trump a “blowhard” and said he “couldn’t be more ill-suited for office.” In early February, in response to Under Armor CEO Kevin Plank calling Trump “a real asset for the country,” Curry made his feelings known.
“I agree with that description,” Curry, who is the company’s top NBA athlete and friends with former president Barack Obama, told The Bay Area News Group, “if you remove the ‘et’ from asset.”
Considering the way the Warriors’ locker room is wired, with their leaders always setting the tone on this like-minded team, that’s more than enough to eventually lead to them declining an invitation. As the Warriors were quick to point out on Tuesday in a team statement, no invitation had been extended and no formal decision had been made on their end. And as Warriors small forward Andre Iguodala said to USA TODAY Sports heading into Game 5, there’s a chance the invite will never come.
“Maybe (Trump) doesn’t (invite us) and we don’t go, or we don’t say anything and make a big deal of it, and he doesn’t make a big deal of it and we go our separate ways,” said Iguodala, 33, who is known for being as aware of social issues as he is sarcastic. “Y’all might write about it. I might call him and say, ‘If they ask, just say our schedules conflicted.’ And then if y’all write something, we’ll say, ‘Fake News.’ ”
Yet because the NFL’s New England Patriots visited the White House in April, a pro sports precedent has been set that would make it strange if an invitation wasn’t extended to the NBA champs. Tuesday, Pittsburgh Penguins CEO/President David Morehouse said in a statement that the recently crowned NHL champs would accept a White House invitation and that "any opposition or disagreement with a president’s policies or agenda can be expressed in other ways.”
In terms of the timing, it’s worth remembering that any prospective Warriors visit wouldn’t happen for quite some time even if the players had a change of heart. After winning the title in June 2015, the Warriors visited Obama’s White House the following February and cherished the chance to spend time with the nation’s first black president. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2016 visit, meanwhile, took place in November.
“We’re going to do what our leader (Curry) does,” Iguodala said. “I think we handle (the White House situation) when it gets there. I mean, it may be different. There might be somebody different in (office). That’s a realistic thing to say though, right? So you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
As for Iguodala’s vote?
“Hell nah,” he said of taking part in a visit.
As Iguodala sees it, the Trump administration has made matters worse when it comes to the racial divide in America. That issue was front and center during the NBA Finals, when someone spray-painted a racial slur on the front gate of LeBron James’ home in Los Angeles leading into Game 1. As Iguodala discussed, there's a strong sense in the African-American community that racists have been emboldened by the current climate.
“We all know (that it is getting worse),” Iguodala said of racism. “I think it’s just the ignorance, the convenient ignorance. (It’s) not to say that people aren’t aware, but they just don’t want to address it (because) they don’t want to be attached to it so they ignore a lot of the bad things that happen. I feel like there are actions that occur, that continue the dividing of everyone. And I think that’s done on purpose.”
When it comes to the Warriors, he’s not alone in that view.
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Sam Amick on Twitter @Sam_Amick