Although they won their fourth WNBA championship in October, the Minnesota Lynx didn't go to the White House to celebrate. Instead, the Lynx celebrated their victory by handing out shoes to low-income children at a Washington D.C. elementary school, the Washington Post reports. This makes the Lynx the second major championship team in the last week, after the Philadelphia Eagles, to celebrate their victory somewhere other than the White House.
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve revealed in May that the White House, in a break from recent years, didn't invite the team to celebrate its championship with the president. So, the Lynx announced Tuesday that, in collaboration with Samaritan’s Feet Shoes of Hope, players would instead spend the Wednesday handing out shoes to students at Payne Elementary in Washington, D.C. to mark their win, and that's exactly what they did. According to the Lynx press release, all of the students at Payne are low-income, and 30 percent are homeless.
“I’m so ridiculously blessed to have so memories at the White House, so many great ones,” Lynx forward Maya Moore told The Post Wednesday while at Payne. “This will probably be more unique. We made some great memories with these kids. ... We’ll definitely remember this.” The Post reports that Lynx players handed out Jordan brand shoes to over 300 kids at the school.
It's unclear why the Lynx — who celebrated their 2011, 2013, and 2015 wins at the Obama White House — weren't offered an invitation by the Trump administration to celebrate their victory. Likewise, it's unclear whether the Lynx would have accepted such an invitation if they'd received it; when asked about this by WUSA9 on Wednesday, Moore simply said that she's "excited to be [at Payne Elementary] right now." Bustle has reached out to the White House and the Lynx for comment.
Either way, this is at least the fourth time in the last year that the Trump White House hasn't celebrated with a recently-victorious championship sports team. After winning the NBA championship in 2017, several members of the Golden State Warriors said that they wouldn't celebrate with President Trump in opposition to his presidency; in response, Trump tweeted that he had "withdrawn" his invitation to the team, although ESPN reported that the Warriors never received an invite to begin with.
The 2017 NCAA champions didn't celebrate their win at the White House, either, though it's less clear what role politics played in this. Unlike the Warriors, the University of North Carolina Tar Heels were invited by the Trump administration to celebrate their win. However, they didn't end up going; a spokesperson for the team said that they "couldn’t find a date that worked for both parties," but that the players "were fine with going" in theory.
It isn't just basketball. After winning the Super Bowl in February, the Philadelphia Eagles were invited to celebrate with Trump at the White House. But several members of the team decided that they didn't want to do that — all but three of them, in fact, according to ESPN — and RSVP'd "no." The president responded by canceling the event the day before it was scheduled to take place. At the time, Trump wrongly claimed that the Eagles "disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem"; this was a reference to NFL players who took a knee during the national anthem to protest police violence, but no Eagles players did that during the 2017 regular season.
When asked about the Lynx not getting invited to the White House, the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James said that "it's laughable at this point."
“You always hear the saying, you just laugh to stop from crying," James said at a press conference Tuesday. "I think that’s a lot of the instances that’s going as far as, you know, outside of the sports world. We know how important sports is to our country and how it continues to bring people together.” Days earlier, James said that if the Cavs win the championship this year, they won't be celebrating at the White House, either.