I’m a Golden State Warriors fan. My family and I caught the bug several years ago when we lived in California and have followed the team closely ever since. My 10-year-old son, who plays ball, worships the ground several of the players walk on. A close friend’s spouse is a longtime employee of the team. I’ve become friends with several of the players and coaches and executives on the team and talk with them often about basketball, parenting and injustice in America. We have Warriors magnets on our fridge, hats on our heads, and gear in our closets. Again, I’m a fan.
That’s partly why I was so damn pumped when I read a tweet this morning from a CNBC contributor stating that the team, after clinching the NBA championship Monday, had unanimously agreed that they wouldn’t be visiting Donald Trump’s White House. The team, according to later reports, has not yet received an invitation or made a formal decision on whether they will be doing a photo op with Trump.
After seeing the mixed messages, I reached out to my friends with the team and got absolute clarity. The players, coaches, executives and investors I know all made it abundantly clear that under no circumstance would they be visiting Donald Trump’s White House now, or later, for any photo ops. Without fail, they each told me they were just speaking for themselves, and that the team would be making an official statement. That statement has since been released and says, “Today is all about celebrating our championship. We have not received an invitation to the White House, but will make those decisions when and if necessary.”
When I read that statement, I saw two carefully parsed sentences that went out of their way to not contradict the people I spoke with from inside of the organization. The team is right — today should indeed be all about celebrating their championship, but it just so happens that that championship was won in 2017, in one of the most politically charged and polarizing periods in modern American history.
Whether our favorite teams or brands or celebrities want to take a side or not on issues around Donald Trump, the time demands it of all of us. What Donald Trump says and does affects all of us. His bigotry, sexism, xenophobia, and egregious dishonesty impact all of us — whether we speak out about those things or not. His horrible and inhumane budget and his push to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a plan that causes tens of millions of people to lose their health insurance requires not just that politicians speak out, but that all of us speak out on what’s being said and done by the President of the United States of America.
And for their part, so many coaches and players and executives for the Warriors have spoken out publicly on Trump over the past year. His dangerous foolishness affects them, their fans, and their families as well. While many people may be able to temporarily pretend like Donald Trump’s not a monster in order to appear on the White House lawn for a smiling photo op with him, I seriously doubt anybody for the Warriors organization is going to be willing to do so themselves.
It appears the CNBC contributor may have jumped the gun on his tweet that the Warriors wouldn’t be going to the White House, but it will probably be proven true. With so much talk about whether the Warriors will or won’t go to the White House, I wouldn’t be surprised if Donald Trump flat out fails to invite the team at all. In fact, I think Trump’s going to have a hard time finding almost any players or coaches from the NBA who feel like hanging out with him for the day. If his approval ratings continue to slide, pretty soon he’ll struggle to find anybody he’s not related to or paying to stand by his side.
We’ll see if Trump extends the invitation, but based on what I’ve heard from people within the organization, he’s not going to like the answer. This is as sure of a sign of the times as we could ever have. I hope the Warriors don’t go. I hope they do hold a unanimous vote and instead decide to do something far more meaningful with their time and influence instead of allowing Trump to smile in their faces while he harms the very people and causes they care about the most.
Yes, he’s President of the United States. Yes, that’s the White House. But we live in a different time and he’s a different man. It would cheapen the Warriors brand by appearing in his presence.