Silver: NBA players boycotting Trump White House amounts to 'lost opportunity'

By Marcus DiNitto 27 December 2016
Silver: NBA players boycotting Trump White House amounts to 'lost opportunity'

Adam Silver, the NBA's commissioner, has pleaded with championship teams over the next four years not to boycott visits to the White House to see president-elect Donald Trump.

There have been hints - and even overt statements - that players will forgo the traditional visit to the White House because of the perception that Trump is racist.

But Silver says a visit to the White House would provide an opportunity for socially conscious players to speak with Trump about issues that concern them.

Silver was quoted in a piece on The Undefeated that touches on several facets of the league's intersection with social and political issues.

"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,'" Silver said.

"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 Cleveland Cavaliers visited president Barack Obama on November 10, two days after Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, and there were suggestions it may have been the last trip to the White House by an NBA champion as long as Trump lives there.

Cavs guard Iman Shumpert went so far as to say that if the Cavs repeat next year "I'm not going to the White House."

But Silver believes the institution of the American presidency 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."

The commissioner realises that being the steward of a predominantly black league carries with it certain responsibilities and sensitivities.

"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," he said.

"And I feel part of the obligation comes from the history of this league that I've inherited."

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Marcus DiNitto

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