Visits to the White House by champions of professional sports have been marked by drama in the Trump era. The White House photo-op, once considered a mostly non-political, non-controversial event, has transformed over the years into a third-rail topic, and a reflection of larger divisions in our society.
Here’s a refresher on how the visits from champions in pro baseball, hockey, football, and basketball have gone since President Trump took office.
2016 Chicago Cubs
In an unusual turn of events following their 2016 victory, the Chicago Cubs visited the White House to celebrate with President Obama, and then returned several months later for an event with President Trump. Some 10 players did not attend the Trump visit, however it was billed as “unofficial.”
2016 - 17 New England Patriots
More than two dozen Patriots players did not make the trip to the White House in 2017 following their victory over the Atlanta Falcons. The list included Tom Brady, whose mother was battling an illness at the time. More than a year later, a Washington Post report detailed Trump’s response in learing Brady would not attend: “Trump grew angry in April 2017 when Tom Brady said he planned to skip the White House visit with the Patriots, huddling angrily with aides and even calling Patriots owner Robert Kraft.”
2017 - 18 Philadelphia Eagles
According to the White House, fewer than 10 players planned to attend the celebration of the Eagles’ victory over the New England Patriots, and President Trump canceled the event. The cancellation came amid Trump’s continued criticism of players’ kneeling in protest of police violence.
2017 Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors were famously disinvited from the White House via tweet after several players said publicly they would not attend.
Trump’s tweet came after star Stephen Curry and some other players said they would not go. The team instead visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
2017 Houston Astros
The World Series champion Houston Astros visited Trump’s White House in March of 2018. Shortstop Carlos Correa and DH Carlos Beltran did not attend.
2017 Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins visited the White House shortly after winning the Stanley Cup in 2017. All players who remained on the team from the 2016 - 17 season made the trip, according to a press release from the NHL.
2018 Golden State Warriors
As the NBA Finals were playing out, before a winner had emerged, President Trump said he would not invite either the Warriors or the Cleveland Cavaliers to the White House.
“I didn’t invite LeBron James, and I didn’t invite Steph Curry. We’re not going to invite either team,” Trump said at the time.
2018 Washington Capitals
The hometown Washington Capitals finally visited the White House in March, more than nine months after winning the 2018 Stanley Cup. All eligible players who remained on the team into 2019 made the trip, except for Braden Holtby and Brett Connolly, according to NBC Sports Washington.
Material from Globe wire services was used in this report.