President Donald Trump’s sports-related tweets are usually reserved for congratulating teams on winning championships or wading into culture wars involving athletes (see: Kaepernick, Colin or Rapinoe, Megan). But on Saturday morning, the president couldn’t help but react to the surprising news that reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard would be leaving the Toronto Raptors for the Los Angeles Clippers.

According to multiple reports, Leonard will sign a four-year contract with the Clippers, who also traded for Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George to pair with Leonard.

Trump retweeted an article from the New York Times that praised NBA legend Jerry West, who is currently serving as an executive board member for the Clippers. West has received widespread praise for helping the Clippers land the two stars.


FULL COVERAGE: AP Source: Clippers trading for George, signing Leonard

“Jerry will be getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom, well deserved!” Trump tweeted along with article.

Trump first announced that West would be receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom on the former Laker’s birthday last month.

“The Great Jerry West will be receiving our Nation’s highest civilian honor, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, for his outstanding career, both on and off the court,” he tweeted in June. “Happy Birthday Jerry!”

The president also retweeted an account that declared Clippers head coach Doc Rivers a “big winner” after acquisition of Leonard and George.

“Great Coach, Great Guy!” Trump said of Rivers.


The day after Trump won the 2016 election, Rivers said that everything would be fine, and if people were unhappy, they had the power to change it.

“Listen, Donald Trump is going to be fine, all right?” River said. “At the end of the day he will be, because I just believe America overall works. There’s a Congress, and a Senate, and it’s going to work out. But if you don’t like it you have two years from now to change it, not President, but you have change. You can change the Congress, you can change the Senate. So if you don’t like it, change it.”

ALSO: The other winners of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George joining the Clippers? Warriors fans, apparently

By October 2018, however, it appeared that Rivers had had enough of Trump.

“I look at Donald Trump right now, and I can’t stand 99.9% of what comes out of his mouth,” he told Sports Illustrated. “I think he’s been the worst person that I can remember for race relations. Having said that, attacking him does nothing. That only gives his base a stronger position. The answer is rallying to vote and trying to create change.”


Since Trump took office, no team that has won the NBA Finals during his tenure (the 2017 Warriors, the 2018 Warriors and the 2019 Raptors) has visited the White House.

Eric Ting is an SFGATE staff writer. Email: [email protected] | Twitter:@_ericting

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