CLEVELAND — Even if the Cavaliers rally from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, they won’t accept an invitation to visit the White House as long as Donald Trump is president.
That was the word from four-time league MVP LeBron James on Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena, the site of Game 3 of The Finals tonight at 9.
The topic came up after Trump on Monday rescinded his invitation to have the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles visit the White House. That visit had been scheduled for Tuesday, but not many Eagles players had said they would attend.
“I’m not surprised,” James said of Trump’s decision. “It’s typical of him. ... I know no matter who wins this series, no one wants the invite anyway. So it won’t be Golden State or Cleveland going.”
When the Warriors beat the Cavs to win the title in 2017, they were invited to visit the White House, but when guard Stephen Curry said he wouldn’t go — and before the team was scheduled to take a vote on whether to attend — Trump rescinded the offer. The Warriors instead visited the National Museum of African-American History and Culture with a number of Washington, D.C., school children.
“I agree with LeBron,” Curry said Tuesday when told of James’ comment that neither team would accept an invitation to visit the White House.
That opinion was backed by Warriors teammate Kevin Durant.
“When somebody says they don’t want to come to the White House, (Trump) disinvites them so the photo op don’t look bad,” he said. “We get it at this point. 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.”
James, who endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election won by Trump, has been an outspoken critic of the president, referring to him as “that guy” several times in the past.
“It’s a lot of things that we believe in as Americans that we don’t feel that he’s for,” James said Tuesday. “There are a lot of people that believe that he’s not for the people or doing things that’s right by the people.”
The 33-year-old went on to praise the Eagles for their Super Bowl win, saying, “Let’s not let that accomplishment of things that you will have for the rest of your life, and people will always call you a champion for the rest of your life, let’s not let someone uninviting you to their house take away from that moment.
“Because I think the championship — winning a Super Bowl or winning a Stanley Cup or winning a World Series or winning an NBA championship or national championship — is way bigger than getting invited to the White House, especially with him in there, in my opinion.”
Like James, Warriors coach Steve Kerr has criticized Trump in the past. Also like James, Kerr said the president’s decision to rescind the Eagles’ invitation to the White House was “not surprising.”
“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,” Kerr said. “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.
“The irony is that the Eagles have been nothing but fantastic citizens in their own community. They’ve done so much good. ... It will be nice when we can just get back to normal in three years.”
James, who has spoken out on racial and social issues in the past, also took issue with Trump not inviting the WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx to the White House.
“I think it’s laughable at this point,” he said. “You always hear the saying, ‘You just laugh to stop you from crying.’ I think that’s a lot of the instances that are going on as far as outside of the sports world.
“But we know how important sports is to our country and how it continues to bring people together, excite people, make people talk about it, no matter if it’s here on this stage here or on the streets or on the bus, in the barbershops, in coffee shops or wherever the case may be. We know sports is so big because it’s able to captivate people and bring people together.
“For (the Lynx) not to even be invited, playing our beautiful game of basketball, no matter if it’s the WNBA or NBA or little leagues or high school, whatever the case may be, it’s basketball. It’s our beautiful game. Those women, those girls, they’re unbelievable at doing it. I think it’s laughable, in my opinion.”
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