Before their ceremonial visit to the White House, members of the championship winning Cleveland Cavaliers stated that they would not return to meet the new president next year should they win again. This is yet another protest against the election of Donald Trump.
During a recent interview with Mike Wise from The Undefeated, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver urged players not to refuse a rare opportunity to meet the nation’s leader simply because of a political disagreement. He suggested instead that they use it as a way in influence change.
“To me, if a player were to choose not to go to the White House, whether they were choosing not to go to the current White House or a future White House, my response would be: ‘That’s a lost opportunity. Because that’s an opportunity that most citizens who have a political point of view would kill for — the opportunity to directly tell the president of the United States how they feel about an issue.
Now, if the president were to say, ‘I have no interest in what members of the NBA think about an issue,’ that might surprise me and I might have a different response.
The institution is bigger than any one man, whether that man be President Obama or President Trump. Ultimately players have to make their own decisions. But if they were seeking my counsel, my counsel would be that they should go to the White House if offered the opportunity.”
Silver also discussed race-related issues during the extensive interview.
“I do feel a particular obligation to focus on the African-American community in that we have a league that is roughly 75 percent African-American,” the commissioner said. “And I feel part of the obligation comes from the history of this league that I’ve inherited.”
Silver also mentioned the Colin Kaepernick protest of the National Anthem, stating that his league handled it by speaking “directly to our players about those issues and deal with issues we felt we can have a direct impact on. And that meant putting together forums—many, by the way, that had begun before any protest occurred in the NFL.”
The commissioner added that while he hopes the players will show respect towards the National Anthem, he understands that they also have a First Amendment right to express their own opinions.