White House will invite Buccaneers, Lakers for visit when 'COVID-safe'

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Cassandra Negley
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·4 min read
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The Los Angeles Lakers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will put "White House trip" on the calendar in the near future. Both championship squads will receive an invite from the president to visit, a change from the lack of invites and willingness from teams to go during the previous administration.

Buccaneers will visit when 'COVID-safe'

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a news briefing Monday both teams will be invited to visit with President Joe Biden "when it's COVID-safe."

She said she did not have an update as to if Biden had reached out to the Buccaneers about their 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV on Sunday night.

The president is involved in a handful of traditions around the annual sporting event. He calls the championship team after the game to wish his congratulations in a tradition dating back to President Nixon and the Kansas City Chiefs. The president also sits for an interview that airs on the broadcasting network ahead of the game. And teams typically are invited to and later visit the White House in honor of the accomplishment.

That was a different affair during the presidency of Donald Trump.

Lakers would be first NBA team to visit since 2016

No NBA team visited the White House during the Trump administration and some weren't invited at all. In the case of the Golden State Warriors, the invite was withdrawn. The last team to attend was LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Nov. 10, 2016, when Barack Obama was in office.

Members of the Lakers franchise view a visit to the Biden White House as a pleasure and an honor, Chris Haynes reported for Yahoo Sports in January. Individuals have publicly said they'd love to visit the new president. But a trip will depend on logistics and White House COVID-19 protocols.

The NBA champions typically visit while they're in the District to play the Washington Wizards. That game was not in the first half of the NBA's schedule and the league is not expected to release the second half schedule for another few weeks.

The Lakers also have league-wide COVID-19 protocols to take into consideration. After a slew of postponements in the schedule following rises in the number of virus cases, the NBA instituted stricter policies.

Storm, Dodgers, Lightning notably absent from White House remark

The 2020 WNBA champion Seattle Storm won their fourth trophy in franchise history five days before the Lakers won their title. The question at the news briefing was about the Buccaneers specifically and Psaki did not add the Storm to her answer that included the Lakers.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Lightning were also not mentioned in the response. They have won titles during the pandemic.

White House visits turned political in Trump years

Veteran Sue Bird and the Storm also won a title during the Trump presidency and the veteran made it clear the team would not be visiting the White House. That was if they were even asked to go.

Women's teams were largely absent from invites to celebrate titles during Trump's four years as president. The 2017 Minnesota Lynx and '18 Storm teams were not invited, nor were the NCAA champion teams from South Carolina (2017) and Notre Dame (2018). It was the first time since 1983 a women's national championship team had not been invited.

Trump did invite some women's teams to participate in a 2017 event that celebrated men's and women's college champions in nonrevenue sports. He had the 2019 champion Baylor Bears to the White House as the first women's team to be invited during his tenure.

Winning teams have visited the White House for at least 150 years, per ESPN, and in the 1980s it became a regular occurrence. For decades it was a largely fun affair no matter who was in office. But it turned political in the Trump presidency from both the host and invitee as shown by lack of invites and lack of interest to attend.

There were also memes about the fast food offered to guests and, uh, interesting embraces. The upcoming White House visits might go back to largely quiet affairs with a basic exchange of jersey and congratulations.

Super Bowl LV from Yahoo Sports: