US basketball star LeBron James — arguably the #GOAT [Greatest Of All time] — says regardless of which team wins the Finals, neither will accept an invitation to the White House while Donald Trump is in it.
James and Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry both reacted strongly after news Mr Trump had cancelled a White House invitation for Super Bowl champions the Philadelphia Eagles scheduled for this week.
“Let’s not let someone uninviting you to their house take away from that moment, because I think the championship of winning a Super Bowl … or NBA championship is way bigger than getting invited to the White House — especially with him [Trump] in there” James said.
“But it’s typical of him. I’m not surprised. It’s typical of him.
“I know no matter who wins this series, no-one wants the invite anyway. So it won’t be Golden State or Cleveland going.”
Golden State lead Cleveland 2-0 in the best-of-seven championship series entering game three on Thursday.
Different code, same dis-invitation
The dis-invitation of the Super Bowl champions brought back memories for the Warriors, who had their invitation withdrawn last September by Mr Trump, after Curry said he didn’t want to attend.
“[I’m] pretty sure the way we handled things last year, [we’ll] kind of stay consistent with that,” Curry said.
“But at the end of the day, like I said, every team has an opportunity to make a decision for themselves and speak for themselves.
“I think that’s powerful, being in this situation.”
On-court rivals Curry (left) and Lebron (right) have joined forces against Trump. (Reuters: Cary Edmondson)
Warriors coach Steve Kerr added to the latest criticism of Trump.
“The President has made it pretty clear he’s going to try and divide us, all of us in this country for political gain. It’s just the way it is” Kerr said.
Mr Trump has feuded with National Football League players over the past year, blasting on-field protests in which players sat or kneeled during the national anthem to protest against racial bias in the US criminal justice system, amid accusations of excessive use of force against black people by police.
Mr Trump insisted on the need for Americans to stand up for the anthem to honour those who had sacrificed their lives for the nation.
None of the Eagles players knelt during the playing of the anthem during the football season, but Mr Trump brought up the anthem protests when he cancelled the team’s invitation on Monday after many players said they would not attend the celebration.
The White House on Tuesday said it had cancelled the long-established capital tradition after the Eagles said just a handful of people would attend the event, fewer than the 81 initially proposed.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the players’ decision to boycott the Super Bowl victory celebration event “a political stunt”.
“The Eagles are the ones who changed their commitment at the last minute” Ms Sanders said.
Trump staged a political event on the White House South Lawn in place of the Super Bowl party for the Eagles.
Two weeks ago, the NFL announced a new policy that will see teams fined if a player is on the field and refuses to stand for the national anthem.
However, players will be allowed to remain in the locker room if they choose.