Although the Los Angeles Lakers are scheduled to be in Washington, D.C. April 27-28 to face the Wizards, the team does not plan to celebrate its 2020 NBA Championship with a visit to the White House, according to multiple media reports.
Celebratory White House visits are a sports tradition for championship teams and athletes, but for now scheduling conflicts and COVID-19 protocols will keep the Lakers from making their first presidential visit since 2010, ESPN and other media reported this weekend.
No NBA team has commemorated its title with a White House visit since November 2016 when LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were honored by former President Barack Obama.
It was unclear when the Biden Administration plans to resume sports team visits.
James, who is now a team leader with the Lakers and the only player in NBA history to have won NBA championships with three different teams, told ESPN a White House visit “would be great,” but added he had “no idea” how feasible it would be during the pandemic.
Lakers officials told reporters they are open to a future White House visit, but decided to take a pass this month, in part, because the NBA is still requiring teams to avoid meeting in large gatherings amid the ongoing pandemic restrictions.
COVID-19 limitations have also prevented the Lakers from having the traditional victory parade or a formal ceremony to unveil the team’s 17th championship banner, which remains covered with a black cloak and the words “Stay Tuned, Lakers Family.”
On Thursday, the team played its first game with a limited-capacity crowd at Staples Center, a 121-113 loss to the Boston Celtics.
And team officials have announced plans to unveil their latest championship banner on May 12 before the Lakers’ final home game of the regular season against the Houston Rockets.
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