SOMERSET, N.J. — The Golden State Warriors say they will not go to the White House when they visit Washington early next year, announcing the decision hours after President Donald Trump tweeted he was withdrawing the invitation.
Warriors star Stephen Curry had said he was not interested in the traditional event American championship teams usually have with the president. That raised Trump’s ire, with the president citing what he called Curry’s hesitation to accept.
The Warriors say they’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.”
North Carolina, the reigning NCAA men’s basketball champion, said Saturday it also will not visit the White House this season. The Tar Heels cited scheduling conflicts.
Trump responded Saturday on Twitter to the Golden State Warriors star, who told reporters Friday: ‘‘I don’t want to go . . . my beliefs stay the same.”
Trump tweeted Saturday that Curry is no longer invited to the White House because of what the president called hesitation by the two-time NBA MVP in deciding whether to make the traditional champions’ trip to Washington. Trump’s comment on Curry came one day after the president told NFL owners to fire players who won’t stand for the national anthem.
“Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!” Trump wrote from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
Fellow NBA star LeBron James tweeted this Saturday morning: “Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!”
Michele Roberts, executive director of the players union, called it a “badge of honor” in a tweet to have the invitation withdrawn.
‘‘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,’’ Curry said Friday at the Warriors’ media day. ‘‘It’s not just the act of not going. There are things you have to do on the back end to actually push that message into motion.’’
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told The Players’ Tribune in July he believes teams should visit the White House when invited, though also said he would not order anyone to make such a trip.
‘‘I think that these institutions are bigger than any individual politician, any individual elected official,’’ Silver said then. ‘‘And it concerns me that something like going to the White House after winning a championship, something that has been a great tradition, would become one that is partisan. I will say, though, even though I think that teams should make decisions as organizations, that I would also respect an individual player’s decision not to go.’’
Trump has met with some teams already in his first year in office.
Clemson visited the White House this year after winning the College Football Playoff, some members of the New England Patriots went after the Super Bowl victory and the Chicago Cubs went to the Oval Office in June to commemorate their World Series title. The Cubs also had the larger and more traditional visit with President Barack Obama in January, four days before the Trump inauguration.
The Warriors may still get a welcome in Washington: House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California has said she would like to bring the team to the Capitol.
Here is the Warriors’ full 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. 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.
“In lieu of a visit to the White House, we have decided that we’ll constructively use our trip to the nation’s capital in February to celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion — the values that we embrace as an organization.”
Reynolds contributed from Miami.