President Donald Trump said during a wide-ranging but impromptu back and forth with reporters today that he won’t invite the winner of the NBA championship series to the White House — no matter who prevails between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Speaking at media before departing for the G7 meeting in Canada, Trump made the declaration after the Cavs’ LeBron James said earlier this week that neither team would accept an invitation to the White House, as has been tradition for major sports teams.
“I know no matter who wins this series, no one wants an invite anyway — it won’t be Cleveland or Golden State going,” James said Tuesday. (For the record, Golden State leads the best-of-7 NBA Finals 3-0 and can complete the sweep tonight in Cleveland.)
James’ comments came amid the flap involving the NFL champion Philadelphia Eagles, who did not make a White House trip this year. Some players did not want to attend the ceremony, with many divided over the league’s national anthem policy. Trump had been a major critic of players who kneeled during the playing of the song over the past two seasons.
Instead of an Eagles ceremony, Trump held an alternate event, which the White House called “a celebration of the American flag with Eagles fans and performances by United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus.”
Also on Friday, Trump said he would look at pardon applications suggested by NFL players who protested during the anthem.
Pardons have been top of mind for Trump of late, from clearing boxer Jack Johnson to Kim Kardashian-backed Alice Maria Johnson. He told reporters today that he might pardon Muhammad Ali (whose 1967 draft evasion conviction was already overturned, in 1971, by the U.S. Supreme Court).