President-elect Joe Biden is months away from inauguration, but one visitor already seems to be lining up.
Los Angeles Lakers forward Jared Dudley, a bench player on the 2020 NBA champions, said he would love for the team to visit Biden in the White House next year on the Lakers Nation podcast this week.
There has apparently not been a team discussion about a trip yet, but both Dudley and LeBron James, the two oldest players on the roster, have now both signaled an interest.
From Silver Screen & Roll:
“It hasn’t been discussed yet internally when it comes to player-wise. I did see LeBron’s tweet about going back to the White House, but I think that it would symbolize a lot too. I would love to do it, you have a new president Joe Biden who just won the election, I think they can schedule that, I think Biden would love to have the Lakers there, it would be cool to be the first sports team to do that.”
Of course, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic would make an in-person White House visit difficult, and possibly ill-advised from both a health and optics standpoint. The Lakers have already missed out on a conventional championship parade due to such concerns.
Dudley seemed confident the NBA could and White House could still figure it out, pointing to the league’s testing prowess:
“I think that this is the new norm. Us and the coronavirus, we have to get used to it. Us wearing masks or social distancing. The NBA, they’re the best at testing, so we’re gonna be corona free to be able to go into that White House. No one is going to have that (coronavirus). It’ll be all the right regulations, and I think it would be a good picture just to have.”
James seemed to make his intentions clear last Saturday, the day the race was widely called for Biden, with a Twitter reply to Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green.
Given that the Lakers won’t be rushing to visit current President Donald Trump on his way out, this would also close the book on a standoff between four year’s worth of NBA champions and a president that has been critical of the league and its players.
No NBA champion visited Trump in the White House
None of this should be surprising for both political and sports observers, but not a single NBA champion visited Trump at the White House.
The 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers visited Barack Obama instead. The 2017 Warriors had Stephen Curry signal he had no interest in visiting Trump, prompting the president to publicly declare their invitation had been “withdrawn.” The 2018 Warriors didn’t even bother discussing it. The 2019 Toronto Raptors apparently had Trump’s support to visit, but a trip never materialized.
Champions of the NFL, NHL, MLB, College Football Playoff and more did make the trip during the Trump administration, but that Obama-Cavaliers trip was the last time an NBA champion met with a president.
Another sports norm that went dormant under Trump was the president throwing out the first pitch at an MLB game. Despite having a baseball team just a few miles southeast, Trump, a self-described “great baseball fan” never took the mound before an MLB game.
The Washington Nationals have already announced Biden has been invited to throw a first pitch during the first game of the upcoming season.
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