June 16-- An editorial from The San Diego Union-Tribune
More than those in any other professional sport, NBA coaches and players have taken offense with what they see as the transgressive policies, attitudes and comments of President Donald Trump. Perhaps the most prominent critic has been San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich, an Air Force Academy graduate and former U.S. intelligence officer who has questioned Trump's judgment, maturity and empathy on several occasions.
The list of outspoken basketball critics also includes the coach, Steve Kerr, and some of the players on the NBA champion Golden State Warriors, who have repeatedly ripped the president for his views of minorities and foreigners as well as his demeanor. Because of this, there have been Internet reports that the team has already voted to decline the traditional invitation for the NBA champions to go to the White House-something they did after winning the title in 2015, when Barack Obama was president. Team officials quickly and effectively debunked the claim, saying the focus after Monday's decisive victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers was on celebrating, and that a decision would be made in due time.
Especially after the awful events of Wednesday-when a Trump-loathing Illinois man was thwarted in his attempt to massacre Republican lawmakers practicing in Alexandria, Virginia, for their annual congressional baseball game-it would be good for America for the Warriors to accept an invitation. While Trump's remarks about the attack were pitch-perfect, he remains a divisive figure. But this nation needs gestures that underline that America's political divisions don't change our desperate need for a society with minimums of mutual tolerance.
This point was made gracefully by columnist Sally Jenkins in The Washington Post: "The Warriors, attractive public figures as they are, have a unique ability to cut through all the shouting and perform an act of critical social activism: They can be exemplars of political civility at a time when it's most needed."
Thankfully, Kerr grasps that the trip to the White House is about more than just giving Trump a rewarding photo op. A month ago, Kerr slammed Trump as a "blowhard." But in an interview with ESPN's Zach Lowe after the Warriors' triumph, he took a different tack when asked about a possible White House visit. He acknowledged the disdain for Trump within the Warriors' locker room but said that shouldn't be the only consideration: "There's a respect for the institution, for the office; there's a respect for our government that I think you have to take into account, regardless of people's opinions of the person sitting in that chair."
This is the sort of thoughtfulness that Kerr, the son of a university president, has often displayed. Here's hoping it is appreciated by the Warriors, two of whom-superstar guard Stephen Curry and respected sixth man Andre Iguodala-have already said they don't want to go.
At a time when American politics feels broken and our culture feels like it's fraying, sports is still unifying. Now the Warriors have a unique opportunity to build on this fact. In doing so, they can help a reeling nation get to a better place.
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