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The Los Angeles Lakers will not visit the White House this month, and possibly not at all following their 2020 NBA championship.
Due to scheduling conflicts and COVID-19 concerns, a trip to meet President Joe Biden has not been scheduled around the Lakers' road game against the Washington Wizards on April 28, according to the Los Angeles Times' Dan Woike. Road games against D.C. teams are typically when defending champions visit the White House.
Source says the Lakers will not visit the White House when the team is in D.C. later this month. Scheduling/COVID health and safety concerns keeping them from celebrating 2020 NBA title.
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) April 17, 2021
ESPN's Dave McMenamin reports that a future visit has not been ruled out completely, though you have to wonder if the Lakers will ever again be assembled in D.C. before a new champion is crowned in July.
The Lakers will not visit the White House and President Joe Biden to celebrate their 2020 NBA championship when the team travels to Washington, D.C. to play the Wizards later this month, a source tells ESPN. A future visit has not been ruled out completely, the source says.
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) April 17, 2021
Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported in January that the Lakers were looking into a visit around the Wizards trip and that players and management were enthusiastic about the possibility, but noted that logistics and COVID-19 protocols had to be figured out.
This is yet another aberration of the typical post-championship for the Lakers, who did not receive the customary parade through their city, for obvious reasons.
LeBron James wants to visit Joe Biden's White House
The development is a reversal from the expressed wishes of Lakers star LeBron James and other players. Shortly after Biden defeated former President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, an enthusiastic James said he looked forward to taking his tequila and win to the White House:
YO we back up in there my G!!! I’m taking my tequila and vino too! 😁😁😁 🥃🥃🍷🍷
— LeBron James (@KingJames) November 7, 2020
Lakers veteran Jared Dudley also said he believed the team would want to make the trip, though noted the players hadn't yet discussed the possibility.
Biden had expressed similar enthusiasm, saying he would love to carry on the tradition of receiving champion sports teams, but noted COVID-19 as an obstacle. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in February both the Lakers and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers would receive invites, with yet another disclaimer about COVID safety.
NBA champion has not visited White House since 2016
Even though the Lakers clearly wanted to visit White House, it now looks like they will continue a drought of NBA White House visits that reaches back to the Obama administration.
Unsurprisingly, not a single NBA champion visited the White House during Trump's term.
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.
Trump did receive champions from the NFL, NHL, MLB, College Football Playoff and more (the lone basketball team to make the trip: Baylor women's basketball), but that Obama-Cavaliers trip was the last time an NBA champion met with a president.
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