An online petition urging the Golden State Warriors, who won the NBA Finals on June 12, not to visit President Donald Trump at the White House has gathered more than 50,000 signatures.
“NBA players have made powerful statements against racism and injustice in the past few years,” reads the petition. “Now is a time for athletes to step up even more.”
Several Warriors players, including Stephen Curry and Shaun Livingston, have said they would not visit the White House but that the decision would be up to the team. The Warriors have not yet confirmed whether an invitation from the White House has been issued.
White House visits by championship teams are an inconsistent tradition. ESPN reports that about a dozen college and pro teams visit the White House each year. The tradition dates to at least 1865, when two amateur baseball clubs visited President Andrew Johnson.
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In the NBA, the Boston Celtics were the first to visit the White House as NBA champions in 1963 on an invitation from President John F. Kennedy. The Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers both visited President Barack Obama at the White House after winning the 2015 and 2016 titles, respectively.
Some players have in the past opted out of White House visits, reports ESPN. Larry Bird declined to visit President Ronald Reagan with the Celtics in 1984, Michael Jordan dropped out of a Bulls visit to President George H.W. Bush in 1991 and Tom Brady opted out of a Patriots visit to President Barack Obama in 2015.