CLEVELAND — Stephen Curry and LeBron James spoke their minds last year. They have not changed their minds this year.
No matter whose team wins the NBA championship, neither superstar will be at the White House anytime soon.
On the day when the Philadelphia Eagles were supposed to be there to commemorate winning the Super Bowl — a visit that was canceled by President Donald Trump and had the White House accusing players who weren’t planning on attending of abandoning their fans — Curry and James were among those speaking out at the NBA Finals in support of the Eagles.
“I’m not surprised. It’s typical of him,” James, the Cleveland star, said of Trump’s decision to cancel. “I know no matter who wins this series, no one wants the invite anyway. So it won’t be Golden State or Cleveland going.”
On the eve of Game 3 of the Warriors-Cavaliers series, politics dominated the conversation.
Curry raised Trump’s ire last year when he said he wouldn’t go to the White House, prompting the President to disinvite him and the champion Golden State Warriors.
Curry said Tuesday that he spoke with a current Eagles player about the team’s decision-making process and how it went deeper than disagreeing with Trump policies and the ongoing issue of some NFL players choosing not to stand for the pregame playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“It’s an important conversation, but you can’t control what other people try to do, or try to control the narrative or things like that,” Curry said.
Curry said the team has been on the same page after his comments last year and Trump’s subsequent revoking of the Warriors’ invitation. “And every team that’s won a championship since then has gone through that.”
There has been clear tension between many star athletes and the current administration throughout the Trump presidency. Trump has often blasted the NFL players who have kneeled for the national anthem, a protest that started in 2016 when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did so to protest racism and more specifically the killing of black men by police.
Trump said the Eagles’ event was called off because some of their players “disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country.”
No Eagles players kneeled during the anthem last season.
“Instead the decision was made to lie, and paint the picture that these players are anti-America, anti-flag and anti-military,” the Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins wrote in a statement posted to social media Tuesday .
The WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx haven’t been invited to celebrate their most recent title, something James called “laughable.” Villanova, the reigning NCAA men’s champion, has not revealed if an invitation was sent. Many members of the U.S. Olympic Team that competed earlier this year in South Korea did not attend a White House reception.
Hockey’s Pittsburgh Penguins and baseball’s Houston Astros have accepted invitations to the White House for the traditional meeting with the President in recent months, as have several college teams. When the New England Patriots went last year, half the team chose not to attend.
The Warriors, in lieu of going to the White House, spent that day taking a group of children to the National Museum of African American History and Culture a few miles away.
“I think the President has made it pretty clear he’s going to try to divide us, all of us in this country, for political gain,” said Golden State coach Steve Kerr, who has often criticized Trump and his policies. “So it’s just the way it is. I think we all look forward to the day when we can go back to just having a celebration of athletic achievement and celebrate Americans for their achievement, their good deeds.”
Kerr also lauded the Eagles for being what he called “fantastic citizens in their own community.”
“It will be nice when we can just get back to normal in three years,” Kerr said.
The overwhelming issue surrounding the Eagles’ planned visit was that most of the team was not going to attend, and that was a major factor in Trump deciding to pull the invitation.
“What else do you expect Trump to do?” Golden State’s Kevin Durant said. “When somebody says they don’t want to come to the White House, he disinvites them. So the photo op don’t look bad. We get it at this point. But it’s good that guys are sticking to what they believe in and what they want to do. Like guys said before me, I’m sure whoever wins this series won’t be going.”