September 24, 2017
President Donald Trump ignited another firestorm this weekend with a series of tweets denouncing pro athletes who elect to kneel in protest during the national anthem.
Directing his ire at players and league officials in both the NFL and the NBA, Trump called the political protests disrespectful and argued (in all caps) that those who engage in them should be fired.
If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL,or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
...our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
The reaction in the sports world was swift and disapproving. Athletes and owners, including many from the Philadelphia area, characterized Trump's remarks as divisive and inappropriate. Others joked that Trump's comment about Stephen Curry "hesitating" over a team visit to the White House was wildly off base, considering Curry had already stated he and the Warriors had no intention to travel to Washington.
Never one to conform, former Sixer and current NBA analyst Charles Barkley broke with the crowd during a Saturday interview with NBA TV.
"I think it's unfortunate," Barkley said. "I think it's really unfortunate. I think that it's an honor and a privilege to go to the White House no matter who the president is."
Trump's latest outburst follows a month of criticism over what many saw as a tepid response to the violent protests in Charlottesville and the president's unwillingness to unequivocally condemn white supremacists who led the charge in Virginia. At the time, Barkley downplayed the significance of Confederate statues as symbols of oppression and racial inequality.
In this instance, Barkley said he believes the Warriors are passing up an opportunity to make an impression on the president.
"I thought it would have been an opportunity for those guys to sit down and talk to the president about some of the issues and concerns they have," Barkley said. "You know, if I got a chance to sit with the president, I'd say, you know, we're all concerned about police brutality. I'm concerned about DACA. They could have negotiated a sit-down instead of just coming in and doing that informal stuff.
In a team statement, the Warriors said Saturday that they plan to use their February trip to play the Washington Wizards as a chance to celebrate "equality, diversity and inclusion."