The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Miami Heat will move its charity golf tournament away from President Trump’s course

Then-Heat players LeBron James, left, and Dwyane Wade at the team's golf tournament at the Doral golf resort outside Miami in 2011. President Trump now owns the resort. (Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images)
Placeholder while article actions load

The Miami Heat basketball team, which has held a charity golf tournament at President Trump's Doral golf course for four straight years, will shift that tournament to another course in 2018, a team spokesman said.

The spokesman declined to give a reason for the change. “We're not getting into it,” the spokesman said. He declined to be quoted by name.

The Heat has held the tournament — called the Heat Scramble or the Heat Golf Classic — at Trump's Doral golf resort, outside Miami, every year since at least 2014. The team had also held the event at Doral in prior years, before Trump bought the course out of bankruptcy in 2012.

The Heat's most recent tournament at Doral was held in August. A photo posted on Instagram by a Florida event company showed tables set for an outdoor luncheon on the golf course. In the past, the event has drawn corporate sponsors to play with active or retired Heat players and to meet the Heat dance team and mascot, Burnie (a fuzzy, anthropomorphic fireball wearing a basketball uniform).

The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment for this report.

Pro sports teams used to be reliable customers at President Trump's hotels. Not anymore.

The event benefits the Miami Heat Charitable Fund, which is administered by a larger nonprofit group, the Miami Foundation. The foundation said it could not release details on how much Trump's course was paid for the tournament. The team spokesman said it was the Heat's third-biggest annual fundraiser — the team also runs a family festival and a black-tie gala.

Trump has recently feuded with the NBA champion Golden State Warriors — revoking an invitation to visit the White House after star Stephen Curry said he didn't want to go. Trump has also railed against NFL players who have knelt during the national anthem as a protest against police treatment of African Americans. At one rally, the president said he hoped NFL owners would fire any “son of a b----” who did so.

That prompted rebukes from a number of pro athletes, including some members of the Miami Heat.

“Whether you agree with him or not, that’s not how we want our leader to be speaking in that vulgarity and explicitness,” Heat forward Justise Winslow told the Miami Herald in late September, more than a month after the Heat's most recent tournament at Trump Doral.

Winslow was one of several players, along with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who was critical of Trump's remarks. Winslow said that if the Heat were good enough to win next year's championship, he “ wouldn’t be the first guy on that bus” to Washington.

Trump's presidency pulls his businesses in opposite directions. In D.C., they're thriving. Elsewhere, they're losing old customers who want to avoid politics.

Before Trump ran for office, his hotels and golf courses did significant business with pro sports teams. But as Trump's political career has taken off, that business has largely dried up.

At least 18 men's pro teams, for instance, used to stay at Trump's hotels in New York or Chicago. Now, at least 16 of those teams have stopped coming.

And at least seven sports teams held  golf tournaments at Trump clubs. Now, at least five of those teams have decided not to return. They are baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers, basketball's Los Angeles Clippers, hockey's New York Rangers, soccer's L.A. Galaxy, and now the Heat. Of those, only the Galaxy was explicit that it left Trump's course to avoid an association with Trump's politics. The Dodgers and Rangers blamed nonpolitical factors. The Heat and Clippers haven't said why they left.

The remaining team is the Philadelphia Flyers, which has held a fundraiser tournament for their Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation for five years at Trump's course in southern New Jersey. The Flyers considered moving their 2017 tournament away from Trump's property after the president said there were “fine people” among those protesting to keep a Confederate general's statue during turmoil in Charlottesville.

Ultimately, the team couldn't find a better option and held the tournament at Trump's course.

Will the Flyers return to Trump's course for next year's tournament?

“No decision yet,” Scott Tharp, the president and chief executive of the Flyers' foundation, wrote in an email this week. “We are exploring options.”

The Washington Redskins have also held a tournament for luxury-suite owners at Trump's golf course in Northern Virginia. The most recent one was in the summer, according to a team social media posting. A Redskins spokesman did not respond to a query asking whether the team had decided to hold the tournament at a Trump course again in 2018.