The election of Donald Trump has elicited intense responses from all corners of American life, and the NBA has been no exception. Strong responses from coaches Stan Van Gundy and Gregg Popovich have grabbed the most headlines, but even the “wait-and-see” approach favored by LeBron James and others has been tinged with noticeable levels of sadness and concern. While the degree varies, the most liberally minded of the United States’ major sports leagues has not shied away from considering the impact of a Trump presidency on its diverse fan base, its predominantly black and heavily international player base, and the many intersections of those groups.
At least three NBA teams have decided to back up those concerns by boycotting some of the most visible Trump-branded properties in the country. As reported by Zach Lowe and Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the Milwaukee Bucks, Dallas Mavericks, and Memphis Grizzlies have stopped staying at Trump-affiliated hotels during road trips to Chicago and New York for political reasons:
At least three NBA teams have stopped staying at Donald Trump-branded hotels this season in part to avoid any implied association with the new president-elect, according to league sources.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Milwaukee Bucks, Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks have moved away from Trump hotels in New York City and Chicago, which bear Donald Trump’s name through a licensing agreement.
Sources say that another Eastern Conference team contracted to stay at the Trump SoHo in New York this season has likewise already decided to switch to a different property in Manhattan when its current contract expires at season’s end and that the Trump association is among the factors for the switch. […]
Seven other teams told ESPN.com on Tuesday that they are still currently scheduled to stay at Trump-branded properties this season. […]
Several teams that have stayed at the Trump SoHo in particular in the past told ESPN that they are not staying there this season but did not specifically attribute the switch to any political reason. Several more said that they’ve never stayed at Trump-branded hotels.
The report adds that the Bucks stayed at the Trump International Tower and Hotel in Chicago for an exhibition game in early October after trying to make a cancelation, so that decision apparently came fairly late in the campaign. Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry has been a major Clinton ally and Democratic Party donor for years, and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was one of Trump’s loudest critics in the last few months before the election (after having praised him in July 2015).
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It would not be terribly surprising to learn that more teams have opted to avoid Trump hotels for political reasons without publicizing it. Last week’s statements from Van Gundy, Popovich and Steve Kerr would make it seem very unlikely that the Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors would stay in a Trump-branded hotel, and enough people around the league have expressed displeasure with the president-elect to assume they’re not alone. Jalen Rose’s prediction that NBA players won’t visit Trump’s White House looks more likely with every passing day.
Boycotting a hotel chain is ultimately a fairly minor statement for teams to make — especially when it wasn’t publicized before this report — but that doesn’t mean it’s an empty one. The NBA has been vocal in its support for diversity, LGBTQ rights, and environmental causes for several years. An administration that could include a chief strategist praised by a former Ku Klux Klan leader and the current chairman of the American Nazi Party, a vice president with a long history of anti-LGBTQ views, and a renowned climate change denier staffing the Environmental Protection Agency is a challenge to all those stances. The question to ask isn’t why these teams are boycotting Trump hotels, but why more haven’t.
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