NBA Commissioner Adam Silver believes even after Donald Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, players who oppose him should still carry on the tradition to visit the White House post-championship.
Silver made the statement while speaking to The Guardian in London before the Global Games match between the Denver Nuggets and the Indiana Pacers Thursday, Jan. 12.
“If a team came to me in the current situation and asked for my view on whether they should go, I would say go, whether it’s President Obama or now President-elect Trump,” Silver said. “Donald Trump, the private citizen, I don’t know well, but I have known him for many years as a fellow New Yorker. He has been to many Knicks games over the years and I’ve been to several games with his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner. I have no reason to believe he won’t continue to be supportive of the NBA.”
But for many NBA players, it’s not a matter of Trump supporting the league but his divisive political rhetoric. Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard Iman Shumpert told Complex in November 2016 that he would not visit the White House under Trump’s administration.
“I can’t get caught up in the racial, sexist bull—- he’s got going on,” Shumpert said. “That’s his personal thing.”
And when the Cavs visited the White House that month, forward Richard Jefferson declared on Snapchat that the team would be the last to carry on the tradition begun 54 years go.
“I don’t plan on forcing them to do anything that will be viewed as political in nature,” Silver told The Guardian of player’s personal politics. “But I think as we have done historically, we encourage players to have those conversations with each other, with us and become informed on the issues.”
Silver echoed such support in July 2016 when the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx and New York Liberty protested the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police and the aftermath. However, he would have preferred that the teams not modify their uniforms in the process.
“I actually think it demonstrates that these are multidimensional people,” Silver said. “They live in this society and they have strong views about how things should be. So I’m very encouraging of that.”
But when it came to whether or not NBA could hop onboard San Fransico 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest, Silver expressed his preference that all athletes remain standing rather than sitting or kneeling.
“It would be my hope that they continue to stand for the national anthem,” he told ESPN in October 2016. “I think that is the appropriate thing to do.”