Kobe Bryant became close with Barack Obama during his two terms as U.S. President, something that’s unlikely to happen with Donald Trump.
Bryant may disagree with Trump’s policies, but if he was still an active, championship-winning player, Kobe says he wouldn’t turn down a White House invite.
— Ben Strauss (@benjstrauss) June 6, 2017
Trump is extremely unpopular with NBA players and coaches, but Bryant says the office he holds is bigger than one man.
“Obama didn’t inspire someone like Colin Kaepernick (the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who knelt during the National Anthem last season),” Bryant said. “But he did help athletes progress beyond just asking questions or just being angry, and asking why something is the way it is. Like what’s the constitutional reason behind something and what can be changed.
“He made locker rooms more politically aware,” Bryant continued. “Conversations changed. Obviously, now with the violence we’re seeing across the country, that’s something athletes are understanding more and more. He was rare. We all miss him to a certain extent.”
When the Patriots visited the White House in April after their Super Bowl win, a handful of players declined to participate, citing politics. Now [LeBron] James and the Cavaliers or [Steve] Kerr, [Stephen] Curry and the Warriors will face the same choice. (It should be noted that Obama also faced some backlash from athletes. Tim Thomas boycotted a trip to the White House when the Boston Bruins went in 2012).
When I asked Bryant if he would go, he paused for a beat before answering. “I probably would go,” he said. “That visit is more than how you feel about the current administration. It’s about the guys next to you, about the flag, about the kids out there who look up to you and the United States. But, honestly, it’s a tough call.”