TORONTO: LeBron James is among half of the Cavaliers players who will not stay at the Trump SoHo hotel for the team’s game against the New York Knicks on Wednesday, multiple sources confirmed.
The team is contractually obligated to stay at the hotel this season but has made arrangements with a nearby hotel for players who aren’t comfortable staying there.
James was an outspoken critic of President-elect Donald Trump throughout the election and would not commit to visiting the White House in future years while Trump is in office should he win another championship.
Trump no longer owns the SoHo hotel, but his name is still on the building.
The team signed the contract with Trump SoHo long before the election because it was the only logistical choice that would guarantee the team a block of rooms should they need to come back for the playoffs.
J.R. Smith campaigned for Hillary Clinton alongside James during a campaign stop in Cleveland leading up to the election, and both Richard Jefferson and Iman Shumpert have suggested they may not visit the White House again should the Cavs win another championship.
“This situation is ridiculous that somebody like Trump can get this far saying the things he’s saying and doing the things he’s done over the course of his history with no political background,” Smith told the Beacon Journal prior to the election. “That’s ridiculous.”
Shumpert, meanwhile, told Complex magazine bluntly: “I’m not going to the White House.”
The Cavs were scheduled to land in Newark, N.J., early Tuesday after their game Monday against Toronto. They will bus into New York before dividing. They will have a significant security presence, as always, at both hotels.
It’s worth noting that it’s not entirely unusual for some players to not always stay at the designated team hotel, although this situation seems unique because of the politics behind it.
ESPN reported after the election that the Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies and Milwaukee Bucks have moved away from Trump hotels in New York and Chicago.
The Cavs are also scheduled to stay at Trump SoHo in advance of their Feb. 4 game at Madison Square Garden. They will have separate accommodations for that trip as well. They are not scheduled to stay at a Trump hotel during their January visit to Brooklyn.
Guard J.R. Smith left the first quarter of Monday’s game at the Toronto Raptors and did not return because of a left leg injury.
Smith stopped awkwardly on his left knee on a drive, and his knee appeared to buckle. He was in considerable pain as he hobbled to the other end of the court before dropping to the floor in considerable pain. He limped to the locker room under his own power.
Smith has been fighting soreness with his left knee for at least the last week.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ.