“Nah, I won’t do that,” Durant told ESPN’s Chris Haynes in an exclusive interview Thursday. “I don’t respect who’s in office right now.”
Two championship clubs have visited the White House since Donald Trump’s term as president: The New England Patriots and Clemson’s football team.
“I don’t agree with what he agrees with, so my voice is going to be heard by not doing that,” Durant explained. “That’s just me personally, but if I know my guys well enough, they’ll all agree with me.”
The Warriors were asked about a potential White House visit back in June after it was reported that the team had voted unanimously against it, and the club said the decision would be made “when and if necessary.” That report was followed by Warriors star Steph Curry telling reporters he wouldn’t go if the opportunity was presented. The 2017 Stanley Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins, on the other hand, reportedly would attend if invited.
Durant, whose hometown of Seat Pleasant, Maryland, is just a short drive from Washington, D.C., spoke at length about Trump, the recent events in Charlottesville, Va., and athletes’ responsibility as role models. Here are a few excerpts from the interview.
On his and others’ reaction to Trump’s statement following the Charlottesville violence:
“I just wanted to sit back and analyze everything and gather my thoughts.
“I wanted to say something immediately, but I definitely want to be the voice of where I come from and people who have come from my neighborhood and deal with oppression.
“I’m representing a lot of people. As far as what’s going on in our country, for one, as an athlete, you have to commend Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, CP3 [Chris Paul] [and] Dwyane Wade for starting that conversation last year. Russell Westbrook also said something in his speech. A lot [of] guys with platforms have drove the conversation in a good direction. And what’s going on in Charlottesville, that was unfathomable.”
On his view of the increased racial tension across the country—and Trump’s role in it:
“He’s definitely driving it.
“I feel ever since he’s got into office, or since he ran for the presidency, our country has been so divided, and it’s not a coincidence. When [Barack] Obama was in office, things were looking up. We had so much hope in our communities where I come from because we had a black president, and that was a first.
“So to see that and to be where we are now, it just felt like we took a turn for the worse, man. It all comes from who is in the administration. It comes from the top. Leadership trickles down to the rest of us. So, you know, if we have someone in office that doesn’t care about all people, then we won’t go anywhere as a country. In my opinion, until we get him out of here, we won’t see any progress.”
On the important role athletes can play in politics:
“For us to move forward, we need more athletes and people of power and influence to come out and speak.
“It’s great to see a lot of athletes coming together and trying to direct a positive path for a lot of kids and a lot of people in this country who look up to us.
“It’s huge for us. It’s huge for sports. It’s huge for the influence we have, because we’re leaders at the end of the day. It feels good to see my brothers in the NBA and across sports speaking out.”
Read the full interview here.