Athletes React to Trump’s Election

After Donald Trump shockingly defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to win the American presidency, the sports world took to Twitter to voice their opinions. NBA players Dwyane Wade, Enes Kanter, DeMarcus Cousins and Stephen Curry expressed disappointment with the results, while golf star John Daly and NASCAR driver Danica Patrick congratulated the president-elect. Some, like Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Trail Blazers forward Evan Turner, called for unity and respect across the country.

2016 NOV. 8

Greg Popovich: “I’m a rich white guy and I’m sick to my stomach thinking about” Trump policies

Prior to a game against the Pistons, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich spoke to reporters for almost six minutes before about his disgust for Trump’s policies. “I’m a rich white guy, and I’m sick to my stomach thinking about it,” Popovich said. “I can’t imagine being a Muslim right now, or a woman, or an African-American, a hispanic, a handicapped person, how disenfranchised they might feel.” He concluded the media session with a warning: “My big fear is—we are Rome.”

Nov. 11

LeBron avoids Trump hotel

Before a Dec. 7 matchup with the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, Cavaliers star LeBron James opted not to stay at the Trump SoHo, the team’s designated hotel. A number of James’s teammates joined him at a different Manhattan hotel in what amounted to a modest political protest. James insisted he was not “trying to make a statement.” He added, “At the end of the day, I hope he’s one of the best presidents ever for all of our sake— for my family, for all of us. But just my personal preference.”

2016 Dec. 7

Trump throws shade at the Army and Navy football teams

President-elect Donald Trump visited the CBS broadcast booth at college football’s annual Army-Navy football game in mid-December. While talking about the game, Trump said, “I don’t know if it’s necessarily the best football, but it’s very good. But boy, do they have spirit more than anybody. It’s beautiful,” before adding that he’s “totally neutral.”

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Dec. 10

Trump says Tom Brady called to congratulate him on victory

At a dinner celebrating his campaign donors, the president-elect gave a shout out to two prominent members of the Patriots: Robert Kraft, who was at the dinner, and Tom Brady. “Good luck Bob. Your friend Tom just called, he feels good. He called to congratulate us, he feels good. Good luck. You’re going to do great.”

In an interview with the New York Times, Kraft said his friendship with Trump began 20 years ago after Trump invited him to a round of golf in Florida. “Loyalty is important to me, and he has been a wonderful friend,” Kraft said.

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2017 JAN. 19

Brady is asked if he did, indeed, call Trump

Flooded with questions about the ordeal, Brady attempted to respond to the drama over Trump’s “Tom called me” comments: “I have called him, yes, in the past. Sometimes he calls me. Sometimes I call. But, again, that’s been someone I’ve known. I always try to keep it in context because for 16 years you know someone before maybe he was in the position that he was in. … I have a lot of friends. I call a lot of people. … I don’t want to get into it, but if you know someone it doesn’t mean you agree with everything they say or they do.”

JAN. 24

Trump pulls Bernhard Langer into voter fraud story

This was a strange one: In an attempt to prove his claim that three-to-five million people voted illegally in the 2016 election, President Trump cited … Bernhard Langer? Trump said that the two-time winner of the Masters was standing in line at a polling place near his home in Florida on Election Day when an official informed the golfer he would not be able to vote. Ahead of Langer, according to Trump, were voters who did not look as if they should be allowed to vote, but were permitted to cast provisional ballots. The president then threw out the names of Latin American countries that the voters might have been from to prove the illegality of the votes. Langer, however, is a citizen of Germany, not the United States (he was born in Germany), and cannot vote. The golf star later released a statement saying the provisional vote story was told to him by a friend and in no way involved him.

JAN. 25

Sports world trolls Trump over “alternative facts”

When Trump’s advisor Kellyanne Conway coined the term “alternative facts” to describe media coverage of the inauguration, the sports world again took to Twitter to roast the president and his staff. Warriors forward Andre Iguodala and TNT’s Ernie Johnson used the term in an obviously sarcastic way, while Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Celtics coach Brad Stevens were among those to mock the term in their post-game press conferences. Even the Stars got into the action, wildly exaggerating their attendance numbers on the Jumbotron.

JAN. 25

Athletes react to Trump’s travel ban

In January, President Trump signed an executive order targeting seven Muslim-majority countries and preventing individuals from those countries from entering the United States for 90 days. Many across the sports world used their platform to speak out against the ban. One of the most vocal opponents was Lakers forward Luol Deng, who spoke of his pride in being a refugee and pleaded for acceptance of refugees across the United States.

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JAN. 27

Russell Wilson says Trump might not last four years

In a Facebook Live video, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said he voted for Hillary Clinton, and then went on to discuss Trump: “I don’t even know if he’s going to be able to last four years, in my opinion. You don’t want to wish bad upon anybody because if he doesn’t last four years, that means that something went wrong, so hopefully nothing goes wrong, anymore than it’s already doing. But it’s just been a crazy 10 days already. And, you know, Barack! Come back. Come back, Barack! Come back, Barack!”

2017 FEB. 1

Trump leaves Super Bowl party early

Before Super Bowl LI, President Trump, who once bragged about his ability to predict Super Bowl winners, picked the Patriots to defeat the Falcons by eight points. Minutes after Atlanta pushed its lead to 28-3, Trump decided to leave his viewing party at his Florida golf club and retire to his seaside estate for the night. The rest is history. The Patriots came all the way back from down 25 to complete the largest comeback in Super Bowl history. (Trump did send out a congratulatory tweet later on, though).

FEB. 5


Immediately after the Patriots’ 34–28 Super Bowl win over the Falcons, Pats tight end Martellus Bennett became the first player to announce he would not attend the traditional meet-and-greet with the president. Running back LeGarrette Blount said he would join Bennett, saying “I don’t feel welcome in that house. I’ll leave it at that.” Later, safety Devin McCourty said he didn’t “feel accepted in the White House.” In total, half of the team, from the active roster, injured reserve and practice squad, decided to skip the trip to the Trump White House (though not all for explicitly political reasons).

FEB. 6

LeBron publicly denounces Trump’s immigration order

James took a strong stance against President Trump’s controversial immigration order in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter: “I am not in favor of this policy or any policy that divides and excludes people. I stand with the many, many Americans who believe this does not represent what the United States is all about. And we should continue to speak out about it.”

FEB. 8

Steph Curry takes stand after Under Armour CEO praises Trump

After Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank praised Donald Trump, calling him a “real asset” to the nation, Stephen Curry, the face of Under Armour basketball, responded with his own assessment: “I agree with that description, if you remove the ‘et’ from asset.” Curry told the Mercury News that he spoke with Plank himself after hearing his comments. “If I can say the leadership is not in line with my core values, there is no amount of money, there is no platform I wouldn’t jump off if it wasn’t in line with who I am.”

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FEB. 8

Trevor Bauer backs Trump

While much of the sports community rallied in opposition to President Trump, Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer tweeted his frustration over the anti-Trump media coverage.


When he received backlash from fans, Bauer revealed that “almost all of [his] teammates support [T]rump.” He would then proceed to respond to over 20 comments, expressing his frustration with the previous presidency and his appreciation of Trump’s non-political background.

FEB. 9

Trump says Mark Cuban is not smart enough to run for president

President Trump and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban developed a mutual dislike for each other during Trump’s presidential campaign. While Cuban initially praised the campaign as “probably the best thing to happen to politics in a long long time” in July 2015, Cuban gradually turned against Trump and emerged as a Clinton supporter by the summer of 2016. By the time Trump was elected, Cuban had advised CEOs to be “an American citizen first,” rather than simply cozying up to Trump. The president did not let that go.


In a since deleted tweet, Cuban responded by simply saying “Lol.”

FEB. 12

Sportswriter fired for tweeting inauguration was as bad as 9/11

On the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration, longtime New York Post sportswriter Bart Hubbuch sent a tweet out that compared the date of Trump’s inauguration to the dates of Pearl Harbor and 9/11.


Hubbuch later deleted the tweet and apologized, but the Post fired him anyway. While Hubbuch initially filed a wrongful-termination lawsuit against the newspaper, he eventually withdrew any legal action, acknowledging his claims were frivolous.

FEB. 13

High school students taunt black, latino basketball players with “Trump” chants

During a conference playoff game, a group of students at Connecticut-based Canton High School directed “Trump!” chants at basketball players from Classical Magnet School, a school made up of over 69 percent black or Latino students. “These students crossed this line with their comments and have damaged our reputation,” Canton High School Principal Andrew DiPippo wrote in a letter to parents. Similar incidents occurred around the country. Students in Texas chanted “build a wall” during a volleyball game against a school near the Mexican border in November. Students from the wealthy Connecticut town of Wilton chanted the same phrase during a football game in November against Danbury, a city with a significant immigrant population. Other incidents occurred last March in Indiana and in Wisconsin in April.

FEB. 28

Rory McIlroy taken aback by reaction to golfing with Trump

Irish golfer Rory McIlroy responded to the reaction and criticism from fans who claimed he was a “fascist” and a “bigot” for his decision to play golf with Donald Trump. "It's not as if we were speaking foreign policy out there, we were talking about golf and the grass he was putting on the greens," McIlroy said. "I was little bit taken aback by the blow back but I get why, it's a tough position to be in. I was just doing what I felt was respectful … If the president of the U.S. phones you up and wants to play golf with you, I wasn't going to say no.”

2017 MARCH 2

Trump revels in Colin Kaepernick’s unemployment

On March 3, former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick became a free agent. A few weeks later, the six-year-vet remained unsigned, as the kneeling movement he started to protest oppression against minorities turned him into a controversial figure throughout the league. After a report by Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman cited an unnamed AFC general manager who said the team would fear political backlash from President Trump if they signed Kaepernick, Trump boasted about his impact on the QB’s unemployment during a rally in Louisville. “There was an article today, it was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick [Kaepernick] up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump,” the president boasted. “Do you believe that? I just saw that. I said, ‘If I remember [that] one I’m gonna report it to the people of Kentucky because they like it when people actually stand for the American flag.’”


Cuban says Trump doesn’t know anything about Russia

The Cuban-Trump feud continued in April, when Cuban put the spotlight on Trump’s ties to Russia in a string of 13 tweets.


President Trump, who has tweeted about Cuban over 50 times, did not respond to the Mavs’ owner’s comments.

2017 APRIL 1

Patriots visit White House

The Super Bowl champion Patriots became the first team to visit the White House during President Trump’s tenure, but 34 players did not attend the ceremonial gesture (though not all for political reasons). “Right away, I knew I wasn’t going because it was something I thought about before we even won the game,” Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty said. Chris Long, now with the Eagles, shared similar sentiments, saying “(When) my son grows up—and I believe the legacy of our president is going to be what it is—I don’t want him to say, ‘Hey Dad, why’d you go when you knew the right thing was to not go?'”

Jabin Botsford/Getty Images

FEC discloses that several sports owners made big donations to Trump

The Federal Election Committee in April disclosed the names of several sports owners who donated money to Trump’s presidential campaign. Among them: owners from each of the four major American professional leagues, though the NFL was represented most prominently. The following NFL owners donated $1 million: Dan Snyder of the Redskins, Shad Khan of the Jaguars, Bob McNair of the Texans, Robert Kraft of the Patriots, Woody Johnson of the Jets and Stan Kroenke of the Rams. In the NBA, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert donated $750,000 and New York Knicks owner James Dolan donated $1 million through the Madison Square Garden Company. Prominent MLB personnel also supported Trump’s campaign. Marlene Ricketts, the wife of Cubs owner Joe Ricketts, and billionaire hedge fund manager Steven Cohen, who owns a 4 percent stake in the Mets, both donated $1 million.


Popovich says Trump is “embarrassing”

In the wake of Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey and investigations into potential ties between the president and Russia, Popovich again spoke at length about Trump, this time during a pregame media session for Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. “I feel like there’s a cloud, a pall, over the whole country, in a paranoid surreal sort of way that’s got nothing to do with the Democrats losing the election. It’s got to do with the way one individual conducts himself. It’s embarrassing.”

2017 MAY 14

Steve Kerr says Trump is a “blowhard”

When SI’s Chris Ballard asked Warriors coach Steve Kerr if an NBA coach could succeed with a Trump-ian approach, Kerr, who has long been outspoken against Trump, made his feelings clear.

MAY 17

Cubs visit White House for second time

Although the 2016 MLB champion Chicago Cubs visited the White House during Chicago-native Barack Obama’s presidency, Joe Maddon’s club decided to perform a second round of celebrations while in the nation’s capital for a four-game series with the Nationals. While some Cubs players, including shortstop Addison Russell, reliever Pedro Strop and outfielder Jason Heyward decided not to attend the visit to Trump’s White House, manager Joe Maddon insisted the decision was not political. Cubs outfielder Albert Almora made headlines when a picture was posted in which the 23-year-old appeared to hold up the middle finger toward President Trump. Almora denied any ill-will, saying “I respect everybody. It is what it is. We laugh about it now, but there’s definitely two fingers out there.”

Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images
2017 JUNE 28

Trump tweets video of him punching CNN logo

Just two days after insulting MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, Trump took to Twitter to take a shot at CNN. “I am thinking about changing the name #FakeNews CNN to #FraudNewsCNN!” The next morning, the president tweeted an edited video of himself tackling and repeatedly punching a figure with the CNN logo over its face. The video was originally a clip from 2007 showing Trump body-slamming WWE owner Vince McMahon. Trump was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.

2017 JULY 2

Trump causes headaches at U.S. Women’s Open

President Trump became the center of attention during the second day of the U.S. Women’s Open, which was hosted at the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey. In the weeks leading up to the event the USGA faced pressure from women's groups and three Democratic U.S. senators to move the event because of Trump's comments about women and minorities, but the organization refused. The golfers took second billing to the president, as many fans cheered as Trump waved at and pointed to his supporters from a glass-enclosed viewing area. Trump’s arrival caused logistical issues for players. Ryann O’Toole, who said she was happy to finish her round before the president’s arrival, noted that she allowed 20 additional minutes to get through security and to the course.


SI/ detail Trump’s relationship with golf

In an examination of President Trump’s complex relationship with golf, SI and calculated that Trump has spent nearly 20 percent of his days in office at a golf club, a figure noteworthy because Trump repeatedly criticized President Obama's golf outings and promised on the campaign trail that he wouldn't play golf if elected because he'd be too busy. According to SI and Golf, at a recent visit to his Bedminster, N.J., golf course, Trump was chatting with some members when he explained why he visited the club so often (four times since the inauguration): "The White House is a real dump." A White House spokesperson denied that this conversation ever occurred. The report also suggested that while Trump often flouts rules and exaggerates his own abilities, he is the best golfer to serve as president. "He's a much better golfer than you think he'd be because he hits the ball a long way," Phil Mickelson told SI.

2017 AUG. 1

LeBron says Trump made hate fashionable again

James, who has long been one of America’s most socially active athletes, issued a harsh rebuke of Trump’s post-Charlottesville press conference, where, in the wake of the killing of Heather Heyer by white supremacists, the president denounced hatred and bigotry “on many sides,” saying there were “very fine people on both sides.”

AUG. 15

Patriots sent Trump Super Bowl ring

Because the Patriots were the first team to visit the White House after President Trump took office, team owner Robert Kraft decided to send the president a ring. Considering Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and Brady have been outspoken supporters of Trump over the past few years, the gift did not come as a surprise. After Trump won the election in November, he mentioned that Brady and Belichick both congratulated him, with Belichick sending a handwritten letter.

AUG. 22

Jemele Hill calls Trump a white supremacist; White House fires back

“SportsCenter” host Jemele Hill, who has long been a critic of President Trump, made headlines when she tweeted that she believed Trump was a white supremacist who was “unqualified and unfit to be President.”

Bruce Yeung/Getty Images

Just days later, the president responded on Twitter, and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders addressed the comments in her briefing, calling Hill’s comments “outrageous,” and a “fireable offense.”


While the media powerhouse did not take the White House’s advice, management did suspend Hill for two weeks. While Hill, who has been with ESPN for 11 years, received support from colleagues within the company, President Trump continued to attack the network.

2017 SEPT. 12

Trump blasts Curry

This marked the beginning of a real doozy of a week: First, Curry reiterated his already established view that he wouldn’t be attending the White House to celebrate the Warriors’ victory: “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 … I don’t think us not going to White House is going to miraculously make everything better … [but] this is my opportunity to voice that.”

Curry’s comments predictably did not sit well with the president:


Then, LeBron responded with this now iconic tweet:


James later expanded upon his tweet and said he had no regrets.

SEPT. 23

Trump sets his sights on the NFL

President Trump continued his attack on major sports, this time targeting the NFL and its response to player protests during the national anthem. Earlier that week, Trump told an Alabama crowd, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say, ‘Get that son of a b---- off the field.’”

After backlash from players and fans, Trump went on a tirade, posting 13 tweets in two days calling for a boycott of the NFL because of its blatant disrespect of the country, military and flag.


After backlash from players and fans, Trump went on a tirade, posting 13 tweets in two days calling for a boycott of the NFL because of its blatant disrespect of the country, military and flag.

SEPT. 24

Trump invokes Pat Tillman in feud with NFL

President Trump shared a tweet that used former NFL player Pat Tillman’s heroics as reason to stand and boycott the NFL. Tillman, a former safety for the Cardinals, enlisted in the army shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, but was killed in ‘04 near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border by friendly fire, something the Army tried to cover up. (In 2006, SI’s Gary Smith wrote about Tillman and his complex story.) Tillman’s widow, Marie Tillman, later responded to the president, asking for Pat’s service to “never be politicized.”

SEPT. 24

Rex Ryan expresses regret over support of Trump

Rex Ryan, one of Donald’s Trump most prominent NFL supporters, offered his regrets on ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown” following the President’s “SOB” comments about NFL players. “... I supported Donald Trump. When he asked me to introduce him at a rally in Buffalo, I did that. But I am reading these comments and it is appalling to me.”

SEPT. 24

Trump praises NASCAR

In the wake of Trump’s comments about the NFL, NASCAR released a statement touting its patriotism. “Our respect for the national anthem has always been a hallmark of our pre-race events. Thanks to the sacrifices of many, we live in a country of unparalleled freedoms and countless liberties, including the right to peacefully express one's opinion.” Early the next morning, President Trump expressed his approval.

Robert Laberge/Getty Images
SEPT. 25

Trump criticizes, then praises Cowboys

Trump initially took a shot at the Cowboys for their protest prior to a “Monday Night Football” game against the Cardinals in Arizona. The Cowboys—including team owner Jerry Jones—took a knee as a group before the national anthem played. The team then walked to the sideline as the American flag was unfurled on the field and stood, arm-in-arm, during the playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner”. The president soon changed gears, tweeting his support of the Cowboys and Jones.

SEPT. 26

Trump praises NHL

Immediately after reprimanding Curry and the Warriors, the president praised the Stanley Cup Champion Penguins for their decision to visit the nation’s capital. Just a week later, Trump showed his approval of the league by sharing a video of 19,000 NHL fans and players standing for the national anthem.

SEPT. 30

Trump tells Pence to leave Colts game

The feud between the president and the NFL continued—this time taking attention away from a ceremony meant to honor Colts great Peyton Manning. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, attended the Colts-49ers game in Indy, but immediately departed after nearly two dozen players knelt during the national anthem. Trump then said he was responsible for Pence leaving.

2017 OCT. 8

Penguins visit White House

The Penguins had been insisting that their Oct. 10 appearance at the White House would be an apolitical, going so far as releasing an organizational statement on Sept. 24. “Nobody’s choosing a side,” coach Mike Sullivan said after Trump spoke to the players for 13-plus minutes in the East Room. “Nobody's taking a stand. We are simply honoring our championship and the accomplishments of this group of players.” According to Sullivan, “zero” political topics were broached when the Penguins visited the Oval Office before the ceremony. No players were made available for comment to reporters after Sullivan answered his final question: Was the president wrong “to attack” the NFL? “Everybody's going to have their opinions on the matter,” Sullivan replied. “I don't believe it's my place to share it.”

OCT. 10

Eminem rips President Trump over anthem protests

Rapper Eminem released a politically charged freestyle verse in which he ripped Trump and praised Kaepernick’s activism. “All of these horrible tragedies and he’s bored/would rather cause a twitter storm with the Packers … This is for Colin/ball up a fist/and keep that sh-- balled/like Donald the b----!" Kaepernick and LeBron were among the many athletes who approved of the verse.

OCT. 11

Washington Post report finds pro teams are avoiding Trump hotels

In a survey about travel logistics, The Washington Post found that no team—out of the 105 major U.S. sports franchises responding to the survey—confirmed that it stays at a Trump hotel on the road. The report stated 17 teams had stayed at a Trump hotel within the past seven years and at least 16 found other lodging after Trump’s White House bid began in ‘15. Seventy-one franchises said their teams hadn’t stayed at a Trump property within the last seven years. A person with knowledge of the Bucks’ decision to drop Trump SoHo told The Washington Post that the Trump organization “was seen as not reflecting the franchise’s values, and some players were not comfortable patronizing its properties.” The Warriors’ Kerr expressed similar sentiment, saying “The president has seemingly made a point of dividing us as best he can. He continually offends people, and so people don’t want to stay at his hotel. It’s pretty simple.”

OCT. 12

Dana White says he would play national anthem if Trump asked

UFC president Dana White said he would have no problem playing the national anthem at UFC events if the government asked him to. “I guess if the president came and asked me to do the national anthem, I’d do the national anthem,” White said. White is a longtime public supporter of Trump’s, dating back to the early 2000’s when Trump’s Atlantic City casino hosted two events for the fledgling fight company. UFC does not typically begin its events with the national anthem, though White did point out that the song was performed at UFC 33 after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Daniel Acker/Getty Images
OCT. 13

Popovich calls Trump a “soulless coward”

There could be a whole separate timeline made up of just Gregg Popovich’s remarks on Trump over the past year. Of the coach’s many condemnations of the new president, though, this one, which came after Trump lied in a press conference and said that President Obama and other presidents did not call the families of fallen soldiers, was his most fervent dismissal of Trump thus far: “This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others,” Popovich told The Nation’s Dave Zirin. “…We have a pathological liar in the White House: unfit intellectually, emotionally and psychologically to hold this office and the whole world knows it…the people who work with this President should be ashamed.”

OCT. 16

Trump calls on NFL to suspend players who protest

Trump responded to Hillary Clinton’s comments that she did not find the NFL protests disrespectful by calling her response “very disrespectful for our country.” He then went on to again point out the decline in the NFL’s ratings and call for a suspension of the players who kneeled, saying that “the people of our country are very angry at the NFL.”

OCT. 16

Trump creates petition for NFL players to stand for anthem

Days after the NFL decided not to implement a rule requiring players to stand for the anthem, Trump created an official “Stand for the National Anthem” petition in an effort to put pressure on the league.The petition was paid for by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee authorized by and composed of Donald Trump for President, Inc. and the Republican National Committee.

OCT. 18