Donald Trump holds no convictions about inviting the 2019 NBA champion Toronto Raptors to the White House. That’s OK: several winning teams across major North American sports have refused to come to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue after winning their respective titles during his tenure.
The Raptors are the most recent major league champion, and it doesn’t appear that they want to come to see Trump. In fact, when he was asked about it recently Toronto guard Danny Green said that the team wasn’t interested.
It’s not hard to understand why a group of NBA players wouldn’t want to visit Trump’s White House. Many basketball players, including Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Sue Bird, Andre Iguodala, and Kevin Durant have all voiced opinions against going.
In Golden State’s decision not to attend Curry said that, “We have an opportunity to send a statement that hopefully encourages unity, encourages us to appreciate what it means to be American, and stand for something.”
Iguodala made statements pointing out the convenient — if not direct — use of racism by the Trump administration to galvanize his voting base.
On one hand, visiting the White House has always been an obvious distinction to winning franchises. It bestows them honor outside the sphere of sports, a recognition of the impact athletic competition has on pop culture. But in an era where elected officials are held less to the standards of public servant and more on the pedestal of celebrity, the question of what visiting the White House represents is less clear.
For some of these young men, the idea of starting where they came from and ending up walking the halls of the world’s most powerful building before they turn 30 is a story worthy of an epic. But it’s only becoming more and more likely they’ll be disappointed by the company they find upon their arrival.