The Golden State Warriors won’t be visiting the White House after President Trump singled out its star athlete Saturday.
The team had been weighing a White House visit after winning the NBA championship in June for the second time in three years, but not after Mr. Trump took aim Saturday at point guard Stephen Curry.
“Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!” Mr. Trump tweeted Saturday morning.
None of the Warriors plan to visit the White House now, the team responded in an afternoon statement.
“While we intended to meet as a team at the first opportunity we had this morning to collaboratively discuss a potential visit to the White House, we accept that President Trump has made it clear that we are not invited,” the team said.
“We believe there is nothing more American than our citizens having the right to express themselves freely on matters important to them. We’re disappointed that we did not have an opportunity during this process to share our views or have open dialogue on issues impacting our communities that we felt would be important to raise,” the statement said.
The Warriors still plan to travel to Washington, D.C., the statement said, but will use the trip “to celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion — the values that we embrace as an organization.”
The White House did not immediately respond to the Warriors’ statement Saturday.
While presidents typically invite professional-league champions to the White House, questions have lingered since the Warriors victory in June with respect to whether its athletes would accept. Reports published that same month suggested at least some of its members were willing to snub the president if invited, and small forward Kevin Durant said earlier this week he wasn’t interested.
“Nah, I won’t do that, he told ESPN on Thursday. “I don’t respect who’s in office right now.”
“[I]f I know my guys well enough, they’ll all agree with me,” he said.
The Warriors went to the White House after winning the NBA championship in 2015, and the Cleveland Cavaliers visited after being Golden State in last year’s finals.
Mr. Trump’s decision to disinvite the two-time league MVP came after the athlete said he opposed visiting the White House and hoped to “send a statement” by snubbing the president.
“By acting and not going, hopefully that will inspire some change when it comes to what we tolerate in this country and what is accepted and what we turn a blind eye to,” Mr. Curry, 29, said Friday. “It’s not just the act of not going there. There are things you have to do on the back end to actually push that message into motion.”
“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,” he said. “We want to take advantage of this opportunity.”
He also cited Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who caused a stir last season by kneeling during the national anthem as a means of protesting police brutality, adding: “We’re all trying to do what we can using our platforms, using our opportunities to shed light.”
Mr. Trump appears to have separately taken aim at Mr. Kaepernick, 29, during a Friday evening event in Alabama, saying the owners of professional sports teams who fire athletes for protesting the anthem.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say, ‘Get that son of a [expletive] off the field right now. Out, you’re fired!’” Mr. Trump told an audience in Huntsville.
Both the commissioner of the NFL and the president of its player’s association have since criticized Mr. Trump’s comment, and the latter, free agent Eric Winston, called it “a slap in the face to the civil rights heroes of the past and present.”