The Warriors will not be visiting the White House. They will not take the High Road or the Low Road. They’re just not goin’.
That is not the official word from the Warriors’ organization. For one thing, the team hasn’t even been invited to visit the White House, despite the long-standing American tradition of presidents welcoming championship teams.
But just in case the Warriors do get invited: No go. No way.
That’s my informed opinion, based on what I hear and read and know. Kevin Durant came right out and said he wouldn’t go this week. I’d venture the Warriors will book a bus excursion to the North Pole before they accept an invitation from President Trump to stop by for smiles and photos at the house the President recently referred to as “a real dump.”
So for the second year in a row, Bay Area athletes are driving important national discourse on political and social issues.
Last year, it was Colin Kaepernick. This year, it’s Stephen Curry and the Warriors making tsunami waves before they even lace up their sneakers. Marshawn Lynch, the Raiders’ running back, is also in the fray, although it’s unclear whether his national-anthem sit-down is a protest or merely Lynch being his eccentric self.
The White House visit has long been a rite of honor for championship teams, and the Warriors won the NBA title in June.
That tradition just ended.
It’s not hard to figure. Durant told ESPN on Thursday that he absolutely would not visit the White House. Curry said the same two months ago. Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, and David West, based on their past statements and actions, absolutely would refuse to go.
Head coach Steve Kerr is the wild card. Kerr has made it clear that he is no Trump fan, but the coach is a very Zen dude, and a while back, he wondered aloud if perhaps there is a high road to be taken, an opportunity for the Warriors to rise above the divisive words and actions, a chance to deliver a message to President Trump personally.
I guess that the events and aftermath of Charlottesville, Va., blew the high road off Kerr’s map. Kerr has the respect of his players, and if he has lost the high-road inclination, then there is no road to the White House for the Warriors.
That might be academic, anyhow. Based on Trump’s track record, the Warriors likely will receive no invitation. The President likes to be proactive. When corporate CEOs began jumping ship on Trump’s two business councils in the wake of Charlottesville, he headed off an embarrassing wholesale resignation by disbanding both councils.
Perhaps the President will say he is too busy for such folderol as photo-op visits from championship teams, that he doesn’t have kick-back time like President Barack Obama had (his time on the golf course notwithstanding).
If no invitation is extended, the Warriors will have made an even stronger statement. They will have caused Trump to end a long-standing tradition for fear of being embarrassed by a boycott by a team that has the love and respect of millions of fans.
Meanwhile, Curry is playing a significant role in the post-Charlottesville protests, even if he hasn’t done anything new.
Curry is Under Armour’s cash cow; he has driven UA into serious competition with Nike and the other big boys. In February, UA CEO Kevin Plank called Trump “an asset” to American business. In response, Curry said, “I agree with that description if you remove the ‘et.’”
Much more meaningfully, Curry backed up his quip by serving notice that if there comes a time when UA does not represent Curry’s values and principles, he will take off his shoes, walk away and tell UA to kiss his assets. (My words, not Curry’s.)
Plank quickly backpedaled. Then, on Monday, Plank became the second CEO to resign from the President’s American Manufacturing Council. Plank’s explanation was vague, but the timing made it clear that this was about the President’s response to Charlottesville.
Connecting the dots, it’s no stretch to say that Curry’s warning was ringing in Plank’s ears. Had Plank stayed, Curry would have done some severe pondering about his future with the company. And Curry has shown himself to be a very thoughtful man who takes his role-modeling and leadership roles very seriously.
Curry and the Warriors aren’t going into this fight alone. LeBron James recently said via social media, “Hate has always existed in America, but Donald Trump just made it fashionable again.” He referred to Trump as “the so-called President.”
Anger and outrage are building. Kaepernick remains unemployed, causing rising discontent in the NFL, especially among black players.
Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett sat out the national anthem Sunday and will continue to do so. Bennett said, per CNN, “Charlottesville was the tipping point for me. There is a point where silence is becoming dishonest.”