As with any great coach, North Carolina’s Roy Williams was probably already thinking about next year’s recruiting class, or figuring out a way to persuade stars Justin Jackson and Joel Berry II to return for their senior years. He was probably expecting to answer questions along those lines during his post-game news conference.
Instead, Coach Roy jumped out of the pressure cooker that is the Big Dance and leaped right into the fires of modern politics.
Williams opted to remain noncommittal when pressed about the annual tradition of the NCAA champions visiting the White House. He has been a vociferous critic of President Donald Trump.
“Now everybody’s got social media, and we don’t need The New York Times to find out what in the dickens is going on in the country,” Williams said after his Tar Heels drubbed the Miami Hurricanes 78-53 during the ACC Tournament. “You know, our president tweets out more bulls— than anybody I’ve ever seen.”
Those comments were not even prompted. Williams was addressing comments made by legendary Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim about where the ACC Tournament should be held each year. That’s when he suddenly changed course out of the blue to take a shot at President Trump.
So naturally, his anti-Trump comments were brought up again after the Tar Heels beat the Bulldogs in the championship game.
“You said, I guess, on Friday that you’d give an honest answer on Monday about going to the White House and going to see President Trump if you won. Now that you’re here, I’m curious, can’t jinx yourself. So what are [your thoughts]?” asked a reporter.
“I haven’t had any,” Williams responded bluntly. “I probably screwed it up. I should have told you let me think about it afterwards, because I wasn’t going to jinx myself.”
“We won in ’05; we never got invited. I don’t know if we’re going to get invited this time. That’s a bad way to put it,” Williams said. He seemed genuinely perplexed while grappling with the idea of visiting the White House.
“They invited us in September when they were doing a lot of teams. Well, all my team were already at the NBA training camp and two of them in Europe. So we didn’t go in ’05. And we did go in ’09.” Williams’ 2005 team dispersed rather quickly, with talented players like Raymond Felton and Sean May getting drafted in the lottery.
“But, you know, the office of the presidency of the United States is the most fantastic place you can be. But let me think on it,” Williams continued.
“Again, I don’t know that we’re going to get invited. I really don’t. But I know one thing, we’re putting up a nice banner in the Smith Center that’s hard to get.”
It will be genuinely fascinating to observe whether Williams and his team get invited to the White House. It could also be incredibly awkward if it does come to fruition. President Trump is rarely one to take an insult lying down, and Williams isn’t exactly one to bite his tongue.
North Carolina has already been at the center of quite a bit of political discourse lately. Aside from Williams’ anti-Trump sentiments, the state was also embroiled in the “bathroom law” debate that only ended recently.
Regardless of whether or not Williams and his champion Tar Heels visit the White House, or whatever happens over the “bathroom law,” it would be nice to see politics and sports intermingle less often. The NCAA really had no business interfering with state laws. And regardless of how Roy Williams feels about Donald Trump, what kind of example would he be setting for his young players by throwing a tantrum and boycotting a once-in-a-lifetime chance over opposing ideologies?
Williams already brought Tar Heel Nation together by getting banner No. 6 to be raised in the Dean Smith Center. It would be even better if Coach Roy could help bring the actual nation a little closer together by honoring the White House, regardless of how he personally feels about the president.
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