Under Trump, championship teams visiting White House may be over

Under Trump, championship teams visiting White House may be over

Of all the genuinely flesh-rending political developments coming from President Donald Trump’s decision to singlehandedly restrict immigration based solely on passport content because he thinks all Muslims are terrorists, there is one small bit of good news. One very small, tiny, infinitesimal, almost sub-atomic bit of good news.

This may mean the end of the champions trip to the White House – if not once and for all, but for the foreseeable future.

“May,” we mean. Nothing is certain in these uncertain times, and if the New England Patriots win the Super Bowl, there is the likelihood of at least one more trip. In addition, the Cleveland Cavaliers are owned by Dan Gilbert, who not only was a big Trump supporter but housed the Republican National Convention this past summer, so there’s that.

The Warriors? Well, Secretary of State Steve Kerr will be a significantly tougher sell.

Mostly, though, what we are likely to see is management, which likes the visual of being at the White House, suddenly flirting with mutinies by their players and staff members, who may not like the visual of being at the White House.

[POOLE: Kerr completely opposes Trump's ban: 'Could be breeding anger and terror']

And what we will see after that are a lot of face-saving excuses about why College Team A can’t make the trip because of an overseas tour or finals or recruiting or beers at the frat, or why Pro Team B will have a lot of players turning up sick the day of the meet’n’greet. And thus will end an association between government and sport that at best was mildly charming, but was mostly an exercise in hypocrisy – that is, if you think “stick to sports” is a viable concept.

After all, the White House IS politics whether you like those politics or not, so the tradition of the White House champions visit, which first happened the last time the Washington Senators won the World Series in 1924 and intruded on Calvin Coolidge’s day, and became an all-sports tradition during Ronald Reagan’s Administration. Most of those visits were benign affairs that few people found particularly objectionable.

In truth, though, those visits fly in the face of the strict observance of the “Stick To Sports” movement, which is typically wielded against sports figures who don’t toe to conservative orthodoxies.

Besides, “stick to sports” is mostly a reactionary construct that actually means, “Stick to sports unless your political views happen to coincide with mine or that of the power structure I support.” “Stick to sports” is “You have freedom of speech until I disagree with you, at which point you should shut up and stick to sports.”

Some athletes have skipped the trip on their own. Larry Bird missed the ’84 visit because as he said, “The president knows where to find me,” and Michael Jordan passed on George H.W. Bush in 1991 for a golf date. James Harrison skipped twice while with the Super Bowl winning Steelers, once for Bush and once for Obama, though some suspect it was Harrison’s fear of flying that might have been the motivating factor. And Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins declined in 2012 as a statement against the evils of the federal government, though the prevailing sentiment at the time was that he’d have turned up for a Republican president.

But politics has turned more overtly hateful in recent times, so we are about to see a lot more Thomases on a lot more teams because of Trump’s whirlwind foot-wiping of the Constitution, and that means a lot of teams who either send a portion of their employees, or decide not to bother at all, mostly for reasons of organizational coherence.

That means White House trips will come down to matters of individual conscience, as in Bill Belichick or Tom Brady may cheerfully accept an invitation that may not be accepted by, say, LeGarrette Blount or Devin McCourty. It may mean that Gilbert goes to see the recipient of so much of his disposable income but cannot rely on having LeBron James or Kyrie Irving with him.

And frankly, that works just fine. Politics is an individual matter, or a matter of like minds banding together toward a common goal. If all the members of a team want to go to the White House, fine, but it will no longer work as a compulsory activity, not in this climate. If a player wants to go to harangue the President, that may be considered bad taste but it is now on the board as a possibility.

And tis flies in the face, throat and stomach of the public relations opportunity it was designed to be. It becomes a potentially divisive and self-defeating photo op that can break down the commonalities men and women find through shared victory, and therefore becomes antithetical to the point of having a team at all.

So barring a reversal in form by President Trump, the idea of inviting a team to the White House that only responds in part becomes more trouble than it is worth to all parties. The day of the team visit, in short, may be over.

And maybe that’s as it should be until politics starts behaving a hell of a lot better.

Four things we learned while Steph Curry dealt with fourth ankle injury

Four things we learned while Steph Curry dealt with fourth ankle injury

UPDATE (2:40pm PT on Tuessday): Steph Curry has been cleared for full team practices with the goal of playing this week, the Warriors announced.


The Warriors’ usual late-spring sprint toward the postseason, already slowed to a limp, deteriorated into a forlorn crawl Monday night in San Antonio as they were losing for the fourth time in six games.

Draymond Green, the only “healthy” member of the team’s All-Star quartet, left the game in the second quarter with a pelvic contusion and did not return.

Though Green said after this 89-75 loss to the Spurs that he doesn’t consider this a serious injury, it’s abundantly clear reinforcements can’t arrive soon enough.

Stephen Curry, a profoundly superior reinforcement, may return as soon as Friday.

Curry’s tender right ankle is scheduled to be reevaluated Tuesday, after which the Warriors will establish a timeline for his return. He could, according to team and league sources, be back in the lineup Friday night when the Atlanta Hawks visit Oracle Arena.

That would provide a massive injection of talent for the Warriors, who lost of three games during a four-day stretch in which they were forced to rely heavily on reserves and role players.

“We’re already shorthanded and then we lose another All-Star, the glue to our team, Draymond, at halftime,” said Quinn Cook, who in scoring 73 points over the past three games did an admirable job of trying of producing Curry-like numbers.

As good as Cook was on Monday, scoring 20 points, it’s a bit much to ask Cook to lead the Warriors past a San Antonio team fighting to extend its 20-year streak of consecutive playoff appearances.

The Warriors are built around their four All-Stars -- Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Curry and Green. They usually can withstand the loss of one, and they can often are OK missing two. But when it’s three, and possibly four, the defending champs are a home without a foundation.

As the Warriors were losing four of six games, and two of the last three, we have learned four things:

1) Cook is an NBA keeper.

The point guard from Duke, who turns 25 on Friday, has proved not only that he belongs in the league but also that he can survive in the rotation of a championship contender. He’s considerably more effective than Pat McCaw. Even if everybody were healthy, it would be hard, maybe foolish, to deny Cook minutes.

2) Kevon Looney continues to smooth the rough edges of his game.

The Warriors opened the season uncertain what they could expect from a forward that has undergone surgery on both hips. Month after month, though, he has done most everything they could have asked. He operates well in their switching defense, is effective in traffic and now he’s blocking shots and raining jumpers. At this rate, the Warriors would be delighted to have him back next season.

3) David West and Jordan Bell are in search of rhythm.

West was reliably excellent, at both ends, prior to missing five games with a cyst on his right arm. Since returning last Friday, there have been visible signs of rust. He’ll be OK in time, but at 37 likely needs another game or two to rediscover his touch.

Bell missed 14 games with a left ankle sprain, returned briefly, sustained a sprain of his right ankle and missed three more games. In the three games since his return, he has yet to look comfortable. It’s not just rust; it’s also the team around him. He’s at his best when supporting the stars. It may take him a while before he shines again.

4) Postseason minutes may be scarce for Nick Young

The Warriors hired Young to score while not embarrassing himself on defense and he has had good moments on both ends. But his inconsistency -- partly attributed to unspectacular conditioning -- grates on coaches and sometimes teammates. As much as he wants to enjoy the postseason, he’s playing his way toward an insignificant role unless injuries dictate otherwise.

Source: Warriors, Curry aiming for Friday return


Source: Warriors, Curry aiming for Friday return

UPDATE (2:25pm PT on Tuesday): The Warriors announced that following an examination by the team's medical staff, Steph Curry has been cleared to participate in full team practices beginning on Wednesday. The goal is for Curry to "play later this week."

The Warriors return to action Friday when they host the Hawks. They face the Jazz on Sunday in Oakland.


The Warriors have been without Stephen Curry for six full games and all but the first two minutes of a seventh. The last three were less out of medical necessity than an abundance of caution.

Curry could, however, return as soon as Friday when the Atlanta Hawks visit Oracle Arena, multiple sources disclosed to NBC Sports Bay Area on Monday night. ESPN, citing league sources, was first to report the team’s plan.

The two-time MVP’s right ankle is scheduled to be reevaluated Tuesday, after which time a firm return date is expected.

Curry was physically able to play -- and actually pushed to return -- last weekend, according to league sources. But the Warriors, looking ahead to the playoffs and seeing diminished value in the remaining regular-season games, opted to continue rehabilitation in hopes of maximizing support for the area around his ankle.

The Warriors have described Curry’s injury not as a sprain but a “tweak,” implying less severity.

Though the Warriors won the game in which Curry was hurt, 110-107 over the Spurs on March 8, they have since lost four of six, including 89-75 on Monday in San Antonio.

The Warriors arrived early Tuesday morning and won’t practice Tuesday afternoon and are contemplating skipping an official practice on Wednesday.

The Warriors, averaging a league-leading 115.5 points per game this season, saw that figure drop to 103.3 during Curry’s six-game absence.