With the US president, Donald Trump, criticising the Golden State Warriors’ decision to skip a visit to the White House and withdrawing the respective invitation, his rivalry with many NBA superstars has become more intense than ever.
It is common in American sport for NBA, MLB, NHL and NFL champions to be invited to meet with the president at the White House.
This year, though, things have been completely different. The Warriors’ refusal to attend the White House is just the tip of the iceberg, as Trump’s confrontation with the NBA players has begun since the 71-year-old billionaire won the elections.
Due to the growing police violence and racist behaviour against black people in the US, many of the league’s elite stars have strongly opposed to the president’s intention to avoid putting an end to this unacceptable police behaviour, while also supporting it, through his actions and the comments he has made publicly or on Twitter.
Through racist and xenophobic comments, Trump has created a racial divisiveness, with the situation deteriorating, due to his poor administration.
Consequently, the conflict between the NBA players and the current president has been taken to the next level, following not only his tweets against Stephen Curry, but also his intention to urge the NFL owners to “fire” any player that kneels during the national anthem.
Judging by the reactions against the 71-year-old businessman, it seems he will, sooner or later, need to drastically change his points of view, given his presence in the White House could be in jeopardy, if the situation got out of control.
Certainly, Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem a year ago has now led the NBA and NFL players to do their best to raise people’s awareness over racism and police violence, with controversy being bigger than ever before in the United States, almost 400 days after the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback’s move.
As each country’s president should focus on making their citizens’ life better, Trump does the exact opposite, having spent most of his time confronting the players and their legitimate protests, while playing dangerous mind games with North Korea leader, Kim Jong-un. Instead, he should try to solve the serious problems the United States are facing, regarding their health, educational or financial system.
Kaepernick’s main target was to prove a point to not just one person, but to the whole country and, generally, the entire world.
However, Trump, who is known for his conservative and racist speeches, has responded to this situation in the most inappropriate way, as he called the players that don’t stand for the anthem “a son of a bitch”, with most NBA and NFL players being offended by that phrase and responding in a similar explosive way.
Players like Lebron James, Chris Paul, Bradley Beal, John Wall, the Warriors’ coach, Steve Kerr, as well as basketball legends, like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, expressed their anger and disappointment against the president’s comments, with James calling Trump a “bum” and stating a visit to the White House was no longer an honour, due to Trump’s presence.
Moreover, many NFL players kneeled during the national anthem on Sunday afternoon, with most NFL owners supporting their players by saying Trump’s remarks were “inappropriate, offensive and divisive”.
Last but not least, the San Antonio Spurs’ coach, the legendary Gregg Popovich, told reporters, during the squad’s Media Day, that “America is an embarrassment in the world.”
Overall, and with the NBA season starting in less than 40 days, things can easily get out of control, as the US president doesn’t seem willing to change his way of thinking, while the NBA superstars are always ready to fight back.
And with the NFL players already showing their annoyance over Trump’s comments, it seems to me that Kaepernick may see the change he requested take place much earlier than he was initially expecting and that will certainly be his biggest victory.
P.S: Although this article doesn’t focus on basketball in terms of analysis, tactics and game strategies, it certainly is topical and of utmost importance, as sports (in general) and basketball (in particular) consist of players that should be role models and make the society better.