Basketball superstar Kevin Durant said Thursday he won’t visit the White House if he and the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors are invited by President Donald Trump.
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"Nah, I won't do that," Durant told ESPN’s Chris Haynes. "I don't respect who's in office right now."
Though the White House has yet to send an invite to the NBA champs, it is customary for professional sports teams who win their league’s title to pay a visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. However, Durant, one of the sport’s most dominant athletes and 2017 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, said he won’t attend because he doesn’t agree with the president on certain issues.
“My voice is going to be heard by not doing that," Durant said.
The 2014 league MVP and eight-time all-star, whose team will head to Washington, D.C. on Feb. 28 to play the Washington Wizards, explained that the decision was personal, though he noted that his teammates would likely follow suit and skip the visit as well.
"If I know my guys well enough, they'll all agree with me," he said.
Durant’s comments come in the wake of the president’s controversial remarks on the violent clashes that occurred last weekend at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. Speaking to reporters at Trump Tower in New York City on Tuesday, Trump again blamed both white supremacists and counter-protesters for the incidents in the city that left one dead and dozens injured.
"I feel ever since he's got into office, or since he ran for the presidency, our country has been so divided, and it's not a coincidence,” Durant told Haynes. “When [Barack] Obama was in office, things were looking up. We had so much hope in our communities where I come from because we had a black president, and that was a first.”
Durant isn’t the only NBA star to speak out against the president this week. Cleveland Cavaliers all-star LeBron James took to Twitter on Tuesday, ripping Trump for his response to the violence in Charlottesville.
“Hate has always existed in America. Yes we know that but Donald Trump just made it fashionable again! Statues has nothing to do with us now!” James tweeted.
Hate has always existed in America. Yes we know that but Donald Trump just made it fashionable again! Statues has nothing to do with us now!— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 15, 2017
The Warriors forward won’t be the first pro athlete to skip a visit to the White House since Trump has been in office either. At least six players on the NFL’s New England Patriots skipped their championship visit to the nation’s capital this year, some citing Trump as the reason for their protest.
"For us to move forward, we need more athletes and people of power and influence to come out and speak," he said. "It's great to see a lot of athletes coming together and trying to direct a positive path for a lot of kids and a lot of people in this country who look up to us.”