President Donald Trump announced Saturday in a tweet that he has withdrawn his invitation for NBA champion Stephen Curry to visit the White House, an unprecedented decision.
In the tweet, Trump wrote that “going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team,” but because “Stephen Curry is hesitating,” the invitation was being withdrawn.
On Friday, Curry told reporters that he did not want to go to the White House. By not going, Curry said he hoped to send a message, “that we don’t stand for basically what our president has — the things that he’s said and the things that he hasn’t said at the right times — that we won’t stand for it.
“By acting, and not going, hopefully that will inspire some change when it comes to what we tolerate in this country, what is accepted and what we turn a blind eye toward. … That’s kind of where I stand on that. I don’t think us going to the White House will miraculously make everything better, but this is my opportunity to voice that.”
As a team, the Warriors announced Saturday afternoon that they would not visit the White House, instead devoting their trip to D.C. to “celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion.”
Visiting the White House has been a tradition of NBA champions since 1963 and became a regular occurrence under President Ronald Reagan, per ESPN. But Curry was not the only Warriors player who had previously said do not want to go — fellow star Kevin Durant said in August that he would not participate in any visit because he does not “respect who's in office right now.” He reiterated that stance Friday.
While other athletes have made headlines in the past by deciding to skip White House visits for a variety of reasons, some political, Trump’s move to formally disinvite Curry would be a first since championship teams of all sports started regularly meeting the president in 1991.
Previously, NCAA football champion Clemson, the NFL champ New England Patriots and MLB World Series champion Chicago Cubs all visited Trump. Members of all three teams missed the trip. Several Patriots players said they were doing so for political reasons.
Trump has not hesitated to weigh in on the intersection of sports and politics, saying Friday night that NFL players who protest during the national anthem should be fired and advocating for fewer penalties for hard hits, even as the league struggles with a concussion crisis. He has also criticized sports broadcaster ESPN after one of its anchors, Jemele Hill, called him a white supremacist on Twitter.
Hill herself weighed in on the controversy on Twitter, noting that the disinvitation probably doesn’t bother Curry.
Fellow NBA superstar LeBron James, who endorsed Trump’s presidential rival Hillary Clinton, slammed the president on Twitter, calling him a “bum” and pointing out that because Curry had already said he wouldn’t go, making the invite a moot point.