Trump Sports Feud Escalates: Demands NFL Chief "Tells Them To Stand"

Update 4: In the latest escalation in his feud with the NFL, Trump just (re)blasted Commission Roger Goodell in a tweet, saying he was trying to "justify" the actions of players who don't stand for the National Anthem. His tweet was sent in response to a statement Goodell released earlier today criticizing Trump for "disrespecting" NFL owners by suggesting they fire players for protesting.

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Update 3: As the feud between the president Stephen Curry intensifies, on Saturday afternoon his team the Golden State Warriors, stood with him and announced they will not be attending the White House visit at all. In a statement, the Warriors said that "while we intended to meet as a team at the first opportunity we had this morning to collaboratively discuss a potential visit to the White House," the statement read, "we accept President Trump has made it clear that we are not invited."

It added that "we believe there is nothing more American than our citizens having the right to express themselves freely on matters important to them," the statement continued. "We're disappointed that we did not have an opportunity during this process to share our views or have an open dialogue on issues impacting our communities that we felt would be important to raise.

As a result, "in lieu of a visit to the White House" the Warriors will use their trip to D.C. to "celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion-the values that we embrace as an organization."

As some speculate, with the escalating feud between Trump and pro sports figures, Trump is wading into "culturally sensitive territory that could freshen opposition elsewhere, and ignite a debate wholly unrelated to anything he's trying to accomplish."

Whether it is Trump's intention to distract from "something else", remains to be seen.

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Update 2: Having set social media on fire following his withdrawal of Golden State Warriors' NBA super star Stephen Curry's invitation to The White House and for slamming NFL players for kneeling during the National Anthem (and the reactions of the NFL owners), President Trump has responded to the outpouring of abuse for his demands...

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Update: As one might have imagined, the responses to Trump's comments have been far-ranging and explosive but perhaps the best known and most stunning was from LeBron James who called the president a "bum" for rescinding Curry's invite (after Curry had he wouldn't go)...

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As we detailed earlier, The Golden State Warriors won another NBA Championship in June - their second in three years - defeating perennial rivals the Cleveland Cavaliers and cementing the team's legacy as the best professional NBA franchise in recent memory. But since clinching the championship trophy, a dark cloud has been hanging over the Warriors: The traditional visit to the White House. Since June, it's been unclear if the team would accept the invitation because of Curry and Co's well-publicized distaste for the president. Finally, the ambiguity was put to rest on Friday, when Curry revealed that he would like the team to decline their invitation, saying he'd like to "inspire some change in terms of what we can tolerate in this country" by standing up to the Trump Administration. 

Needless to say, President Trump was displeased, and in a classic Donald Trump Saturday morning tweetstorm, the president blasted the star point guard for "hesitating" to accept the White House's invitation, before adding that Curry's invite had been "withdrawn":

"Being invited to the White House is considered a great honor," Trump tweeted. "Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn." As the Associated Press pointed out, it isn't immediately clear if Trump rescinded the invitation to Curry, or the entire team.

Trump also ripped into another Bay Area athlete, former San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick, last night, implying that the free agent QB is a "son of a bitch" for protesting the National Anthem. Trump's impromptu attack came during a campaign rally for Alabama Senator Luther Strange, who is running in a closely contested special election to keep his seat, to which he was temporarily appointed after Jeff Sessions left the Senate to become the attorney general. During a rant in which he blasted NFL owners and players, Trump said any player who refuses to stand for the anthem "should be fired" for "disrespecting our heritage." He added that the first owner to fire an athlete for protesting would become "the most popular person in this country - for a week."  He urged fans to leave the stadium if they see players protesting, before declaring that American Football "is not the same game anymore, anyway."

Trump's remarks elicited a response from the NFL player's association, which said "We will never back down" from standing up to Trump. Predictably, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell fired back at President Trump in a statement issued Saturday morning. In the statement, he criticized Trump’s “divisive comments” about team owners firing player for protesting, saying they showed "an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL." Of course, the hypocrisy in Goodell's response to Trump is painfully obvious: After all, Kaepernick has effectively been blackballed from the league for his decision to protest.

Circling back to the Warriors, the question now is, if the White House clarifies that the withdrawal of the invite applies only to Curry, will the rest of the team back their star player and stay home? Or will a few decide to continue with the longstanding tradition of White House visits, potentially creating a rift.