For the first time in Donald Trump’s presidency, the NBA has a champion other than the Golden State Warriors, but don’t expect the Toronto Raptors’ position on visiting the White House during this administration to be much different from that of the Warriors.
“I just don’t think that we accept,” Raptors guard Danny Green said Saturday during Yahoo’s “Inside the Green Room,” speaking of his opposition to Trump’s policies and views. “And I try to respect everybody in every field that they do regardless of how crazy things are. But he makes it really hard. He makes it very, very tough to respect how he goes about things and does things. To put it politely, I think it’s a hard no.”
No NBA champion has visited the White House since the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, when Barack Obama’s second term was winding down. The Warriors, champions in 2017 and 2018, and Trump have had a contentious relationship, with Trump famously rescinding an invitation after Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and others said they would not accept if offered. The Warriors were stopped in their bid for a third straight championship by the Raptors this month.
Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, quickly invited the Raptors, the first team outside the United States to win an NBA title, to Parliament Hill in Ottawa and appeared onstage with players and team officials during its rally Monday in Toronto. Last week, Trump was asked by reporters during a meeting with Trudeau about inviting the Raptors to the White House, and he was noncommittal, although he said he had watched some of the playoffs.
“Well, we thought about that. That’s an interesting question,” Trump replied when a Toronto Star reporter asked whether the Raptors would be invited. “They played phenomenal basketball. I watched a little bit of it. They were really terrific. Congratulations, by the way. That was a great job by a great team. So we’ll think about that. If they’d like to do it, we’ll think about that.”
The White House had not responded to a request for further comment Sunday. It isn’t clear whether Green speaks for the entire team. Coach Nick Nurse was diplomatic when asked about plans last week. “You know, we’re here. Let’s go see Trudeau up in Ottawa,” the first-year coach told 590 The Fan’s Prime Time Sports, adding that details had not been formalized. “We’re Canada’s team.”
Jim Watson, the mayor of Ottawa, urged the team to come to his city, tweeting: “forget the White House for a victory lap. Come to Ottawa and parliament hill so Canada can congratulate you!"
Green said he assumed the Raptors would be treated just as the Warriors were by the president when they spoke out about declining a White House visit.
“I’m sure he’s going to take his invite back now,” Green said. “If we do decide, he’s going to be like, ‘Well, I didn’t invite them anyway.’ That’s fine.”
Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.
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