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Los Angeles Lakers to delay making White House visit to celebrate 2020 NBA title

Mark Medina, USA TODAY
·2 min read
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The Los Angeles Lakers won't visit the White House and President Joe Biden to celebrate their 2020 NBA championship during their upcoming road game in Washington because of the league's COVID-19 protocols and scheduling challenges, a person familiar with the details confirmed to USA TODAY Sports.

The person requested anonymity because they were not authorized to share the Lakers' plans — which were first reported by ESPN — publicly.

The Lakers, including star player LeBron James, expressed interest in visiting the White House to celebrate their NBA title. The Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors had declined to make the customary visit the past two years because of Donald Trump's racially divisive rhetoric. But before the 2020-21 season started, James said "it would be great" to visit the White House under the Biden administration before expressing uncertainty whether it would happen.

The Lakers remain open to a White House visit, but they decided to take a pass during their upcoming trip because of various logistical challenges.

Although some members of the Lakers' organization have received the COVID-19 vaccine, the NBA still requires teams to avoid having meetings in large gatherings.

The Lakers also face a scheduling challenge with their four-game trip starting this week. After a back-to-back in Dallas next Thursday and Saturday, the Lakers play in Orlando (April 26) and Washington (April 28) with only one day in between games. Teams leave for the next destination either immediately after the game or in the following morning. In either case, the Lakers would face a scheduling crunch with fitting in a White House visit.

The Lakers have faced numerous delays with celebrating their 2020 NBA title last October.

They have yet to hold a championship parade in downtown Los Angeles, which typically takes place a few days after clinching the title. The Lakers have also yet to unveil their 17th championship banner in franchise history at Staples Center during the 2020-21 season. They have had a black cloak covering up the banner since opening night with the message, "Stay Tuned, Lakers Family."

Lakers controlling governor Jeanie Buss has since announced the team's plans to unveil its championship banner on May 12 before the regular-season finale against the Houston Rockets. The Lakers hosted a reported 1,915 fans for Thursday's game against the Boston Celtics, but the team hopes to increase its capacity as the season progresses. Staples Center normally can accommodate up to 18,000.

James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were the last participants to visit the White House to celebrate an NBA title with former President Barack Obama on Nov. 10, 2016.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: LA Lakers won't visit Joe Biden White House during upcoming game in DC