The current NBA champions, the Milwaukee Bucks, have once again made history. In addition to winning the league after more than 50 years, the Wisconsin franchise became the first to visit the White House since 2016. The tradition was disrupted by friction with Donald Trump and the new coronavirus pandemic.
The Bucks, led by star Giannis Antetokounmpo, took advantage of a small window to meet Joe Biden. The Milwaukee team played against the Washington Wizards this Sunday and are already gearing up for Philadelphia, where they face the Philadelphia 76ers, the current leaders of the Eastern Conference and runners-up in the NBA, behind only the Golden State Warriors.
“From Cepolia to the Oval Office,” Antetokounmpo said while visiting the White House. Giannis comes from a city whose country is not traditionally known for basketball, Greece. He and his brother, Thanasis, pose for a photo in front of the pulpit where Biden gives his speech. The President of the United States also personally won the Milwaukee race with his name and number 46.
Buck’s visit to the White House is significant and symbolic. It is the first NBA team to meet a US President in five years. The last incident of its kind happened in 2016, when LeBron James’s Cleveland Cavaliers visited Barack Obama. It is a tradition in the country that champion teams – not only from the NBA but from other leagues – visit the president after a win.
Since then, Donald Trump’s constant confrontation with the sports world has bucked that tradition. The next four champions (Golden State Warriors in 2017 and 2018, Toronto Raptors in 2019 and Los Angeles Lakers in 2020) did not go to Washington. The Oakland team and the Canadian team did not want to meet the then president over a political disagreement. The California team was barred from seeing Biden due to the COVID-19 pandemic.