There’s so much to unpack in this Donald Trump-Stephen Curry-LeBron James saga. Curry taking a stand against the bigot in the White House. Trump trying to pretend he was rescinding Curry’s invitation with the conviction of a dejected fifth grader. LeBron inserting himself into yet another NBA summer plot. With all the storylines swirling, however, perhaps most interesting is that a precedent has finally been set—how can an NBA team visit the White House for the rest of the Trump presidency?
The Warriors always seemed like a longshot to visit Trump. Head coach Steve Kerr has been a vocal critic, and the organization for the most part seems like one of the more progressive in the NBA—or at least, as progressive as you can be for a team run by Silicon Valley billionaires. Beyond Kerr, Curry and Kevin Durant have also been public opponents of Trump, the president who unsurprisingly continues to seek retribution against black athletes who exercise their first amendment rights.
It would have been foolish to think for even a second, Trump would respond to Curry with any resembling the slightest bit of grace. But between Trump’s rebuttal, and LeBron’s apt description of the reality TV star as a “bum,” the luster of visiting the White House has faded completely. Chris Paul and Draymond Green also got in on the action Saturday, which means four of the league’s most visible stars have put themselves in direct opposition of the president. It would only make sense for the rest of the league to band together in their dismissal of Trump.
Seriously, could you imagine any NBA team visiting the Trump White House at this point? How could they justify that to their fellow players? Beyond Trump’s comments about Curry’s decision, he’s also been openly hostile toward athletes who care about social causes—a defining characteristic of many of the NBA’s best players. If Trump hates Curry for not wanting to visit the White House, wait until he finds out most NBA players don’t believe neo-nazies are “very fine people.”
It will be interesting to see how the league office reacts to this latest standoff. Adam Silver is probably the most player-friendly commissioner in sports, but that doesn’t mean he’s necessarily always on their side. Silver has frequently stopped just short of a full rebuke of Trump, but now the league may finally be forced to take sides as long as its players continue to publicly battle with the president. If no team is willing to visit the White House, will the league step in? Silver has previously said it is not a league decision for teams to visit the president, but he’s also expressed hope teams would visit if invited.
Thanks to Curry, the Warriors have now drawn the line in the sand. NBA teams in the future may not even receive invitations to visit the White House, unless Trump wants to risk the embarrassment of them refusing en masse. (It may seem like Trump has no shame, but that man definitely cares deeply about not being publicly embarrassed.) No NBA team should even want to visit Trump, a tiny-handed demagogue who’s probably responsible for his own (massive, beautiful, most fantastic) hole in the ozone layer.
There never were good reasons for any NBA team to visit Trump in the White House, other than upholding a tradition that doesn’t actually hold a great deal of importance. Still, there was always going to be a little awkwardness on how to deal with Trump and not fuel the divide he unabashedly seeks in this country. But now, the Warriors have made it easier for everyone to refuse to visit for the foreseeable future.