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White House visit should be players' choice, says Philadelphia 76ers partner Michael Rubin

Max Zahn

Under President Donald Trump, the traditional White House visit by championship-winning sports teams has drawn increased scrutiny. The Golden State Warriors didn’t visit in 2017 and 2018; the Patriots joined Trump in 2016, though half of the players didn’t show up.

In a newly released interview, Philadelphia 76ers partner Michael Rubin left the door open for his team to forego the visit if the 76ers win the title, saying the decision should be up to the players.

“I would want the players to choose,” says Rubin, executive chairman of sports merchandising company Fanatics. “I want to support the team to do whatever they want to do.”

As with members of the U.S. Women’s National Team last year, the Warriors indicated they would not visit Trump at the White House prior to winning titles in 2017 and 2018. After both championships, Trump rescinded invitations before the team could formally decline. In 2017, NBA superstar LeBron James responded to the move by Trump, tweeting, “U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!”

“In general, if I owned a sports team, no matter what team it was, and someone asked me, ‘Hey, you won the championship. Would you go to the White House?’” Rubins says. “I'd say, hey, guys, you won the championship. You decide what you want to do.”

Plus, Rubin noted that management input for such a decision wouldn’t come from him, but would be left up to managing partners Josh Harrison and David Blitzer, as well as General Manager and former player Elton Brand.

“It wouldn’t be my choice,” he says.

Rubin made the comments during a conversation that aired in an episode of Yahoo Finance’s “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment. 

Rubin oversees the ecommerce site Rue La La, the delivery service ShopRunner, and Fanatics. He is also a partner with the Philadelphia 76ers and the co-chair of REFORM Alliance, an advocacy group fighting for criminal justice reform.

He has started and led businesses since age 10, when he ran a small snow shoveling operation. By 18, he owned five ski shops.

Fanatics Executive Chairman Michael Rubin appears on Influencers with Andy Serwer.

In another conversation on “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” last June, former Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala, explained why the decision to forgo a White House visit under Trump is “quite simple.”

“We don't want to feel like we’re supporting something that we don't believe in,” Iguodala, who now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, said of himself and his former Warriors teammates. “We have certain beliefs.”

“If it's something that we feel like we're not aligned with, or we feel like we can't help or try to change any type of way, we try to stay away from it,” he said.

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