The battle began Friday night, when Trump publicly criticized African American football players, following an example set last season by quarterback
Trump urged NFL owners to fire the players and encouraged fans to walk out of games in their own protest.
"That's a total disrespect of our heritage. That's a total disrespect of everything that we stand for," Trump told a rally Friday in Alabama, where he was campaigning for Republican Sen. Luther Strange.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you'd say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He's fired," Trump said to loud applause.
Trump followed that up Saturday morning by taking to Twitter to apparently withdraw his invitation to the National Basketball Assn. champion
Trump's move appeared preemptory, as the team was expected to vote to decline the traditional White House offer extended to sports champions after Curry said Friday he would oppose a visit. It was unclear Saturday whether Trump disinvited the whole team or just Curry.
The Golden State Warriors announced later Saturday that they decided to skip the traditional championship visit to the White House while acknowledging that Trump made it clear they were not invited.
"We believe there is nothing more American than our citizens having the right to express themselves freely on matters important to them," the team said in a statement.
The Warriors said they were "disappointed" they would not have the opportunity to "share our views" on "issues impacting our communities." Instead, the team plans to "celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion" when it visits Washington in February.
Curry, who has been critical of Trump, said that by snubbing the White House invitation he hoped to send a message "that we don't stand for basically what our president has — the things that he's said and the things that he hasn't said in the right times, that we won't stand for it."
Trump's double-barreled criticism led to a swift backlash from superstars such as James who are as adept at Twitter as the president.
Former Clippers star Chris Paul, now with the
Former Lakers superstar
Trump's comments about player protests of the national anthem drew the widest criticism.
Goodell didn't mention Trump by name, but clearly referenced the president in a written statement Saturday that emphasized the need for "a sense of unity in our country and our culture."
"Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities," Goodell said.
DeMaurice Smith, executive director of that
Trump, who once owned the New Jersey Generals of the now-defunct U.S. Football League, appeared unfazed by the criticism.
Later Saturday, he doubled down on his comments by tweeting, "If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do!"
Max Garcia, an offensive lineman with the
And Baltimore Ravens tight end
1:50 p.m.: This article was updated to note the Warriors' decision not to visit the White House.