WNBA champions weren't invited to White House, will celebrate with community work
By CINDY BOREN | The Washington Post | Published: June 6, 2018
The Minnesota Lynx, the WNBA champions, are in Washington for a game, and they will not be visiting the White House. Instead, they'll do community work at an elementary school in the city.
The Lynx, who won the title in October, made other plans when they received no invitation to celebrate their fourth championship in seven seasons at the White House. The omission of an invitation was one that did not go unnoticed by LeBron James.
"It's laughable at this point," the Cavs star told reporters Tuesday. "You always hear the saying: You just laugh to stop you from crying. That's a lot of what's going on outside of the sports world, but we know how important sports is for our country and how it brings people together, excites people, people talking about it everywhere. Sports is so big because it can captivate people and bring people together.
"So for them not to even be invited - playing our beautiful game of basketball, those women, those girls are unbelievable in doing it - it's laughable."
The Lynx' trip to Washington falls on the same week the Philadelphia Eagles were set to visit the White House, a celebration that was called off by President Donald Trump on Monday, and the WNBA team plans to distribute socks and shoes, working with Samaritan's Feet Shoes of Hope, to 340 students at Payne Elementary School.
"We want to serve," Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve said (via the Star-Tribune). "We want to give back, show that this is what champions do."
During training camp last month, Reeve said the absence of an invitation was, to her, a reflection of how the Trump White House views women. "It's hard not to think that gender is playing a role here because of the consistency with which men's teams are being invited and celebrated," Reeve told The Washington Post's Ava Wallace. "I think it reflects the priorities of this particular administration."
The Lynx reached out to Samaritan's Feet, a nonprofit that provides shoes to children, and it identified Payne, a Title 1 school with low-income students. Socks and shoes came from Nike, Jordan Brand and DTLR Villa, and the Lynx plan to wash feet as part of their community service. After visiting the school, the Lynx will celebrate with Minnesota's congressional delegation.
"We didn't want to make it about us," center Sylvia Fowles said. "So we came up with the idea of, 'Why don't we just give back?' We reached out to Coach and told her what we were thinking."
The White House did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday, and it is unclear whether the Lynx might not have accepted an invitation anyway. Last year's NBA champion Golden State Warriors did not visit, and on Tuesday James and the Warriors' Steph Curry and Kevin Durant said the NBA Finals winner, either the Cavs or the Warriors, would skip the trip. In February, the Warriors took kids from the Maryland activity center where Durant played as a child on a tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
"I'm super proud of the players. They could have had a day off," Reeve said of the Lynx, who play the Washington Mystics on Thursday. "But they were like, 'Nope, this is how we want to do this. This is how we want to celebrate our 2017 title in D.C.' "