Although it’s always been seen as a prestigious event, the tradition of national champions going to the White House to celebrate their victory alongside the President of the United States had become a commonality; a matter that had all but been taken for granted.
That is, until former President Donald Trump’s abrasive nature and divisive rhetoric dimmed the glow of the Oval Office, no longer drawing in the nation’s stars but repelling them.
In 2017, the North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball team declined a visit to the White House. The Golden State Warriors, led by superstar Stephen Curry, declined to visit Trump in the White House in 2018 before the Toronto Raptors followed suit in 2019.
Countless other teams were never invited or uninvited, presumably due to conflicts with Trump’s political stances or personal philosophies.
Now, with President Joe Biden sworn in as the 46th President of the United States this week, a new era has dawned in the Executive Mansion; the NBA’s interest in a long-standing tradition has been revived.
Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, one of the league’s most outspoken players on matters of social justice, has had a long-standing feud with Trump due to fundamental differences in character and opinion.
However, when asked about visiting the White House and President Biden, James says that “it would be great” (per USA TODAY’s Mark Medina).
The Lakers, whom LeBron has played for since 2019, won the 2020 NBA Championship after taking down the Miami Heat in six games.