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Geez, when did basketball become such a political football? It seemed it was going to be all rainbows and balloons after the Warriors won the NBA championship.

There was widespread praise for the joyful, pass-happy team. There was a terrific Oakland parade — well attended but without window-shattering. Newcomer Kevin Durant even took out a full-page ad in the paper thanking the fans.

It really couldn’t have gone much better — until someone mentioned the trip to the White House.

The traditional audience with the president is standard stuff for championship teams. Except that this year members of the Warriors, including head coach Steve Kerr, are not Donald Trump fans, and are hinting that, if invited, they might decline.

It gets tricky. There are several options, but all have their little public relations trap doors. For instance:

IF THEY DON’T GO: This seems like the simplest option. You could say something generic and polite, like their whirlwind schedule makes a visit impossible. Thanks, but no can do.

THE PROBLEM: There are already people insisting this isn’t about Trump, it’s the symbol of the presidency. You may disagree with the occupant, they say, but don’t disrespect the office. Some people will be put off if the team boycotts, no matter how adorable Steph Curry is.

IF THEY GO: The grin and bear theory. C’mon, it’s just a few hours. You go, get a photo and return to whatever you were doing. Maybe if players gave interviews and explained where they disagreed with Trump, they could even aid the resistance.

THE PROBLEM: There is no telling what Trump may do or say. If he launches into one of his riffs about “Crooked Hillary” or the “Russian witch hunt,” you’re going to be standing behind him, looking like a supporter. You can give an interview criticizing him, but (spoiler alert) Trump can dominate a news cycle with 144 thumb punches. Whatever you say will be lost in the news buzz.

IF SOME GO, SOME DON’T: A nice, simple solution. Those who want to go can. Those who object can skip it and go to Hawaii. The visit takes place. No one has to compromise their values.

THE PROBLEM: This isn’t football with 40 or 50 players. A basketball team is a much smaller group. It is going to be obvious who isn’t attending. And those people will be asked — repeatedly and publicly — to explain their position. What seems like a good way to avoid controversy might well create more.

The point is, there are a lot of nuances to these sports-as-a-political-statement moments. Let me give you an example from this year.

When the Warriors held the groundbreaking ceremony for their new arena in San Francisco, they hired former SF Police Chief Greg Suhr to run security. The theory was it would pave the way for Suhr to become head of security for the team.

But when word got out, national police critics mounted a campaign against Suhr. A New York Daily News columnist wrote the Warriors “are propping up police brutality and misconduct.” Warriors guard Andre Iguodala tweeted “On it,” which was seen as a way of saying he was working on getting Suhr off the job.

And Suhr was removed, less than 48 hours after the news broke that he’d been hired.

A couple of points. First, after the third fatal shooting in six months, Suhr knew perfectly well he couldn’t stay on as chief. The last one, an utterly inexplicable shooting of an unarmed black woman, was the end. Suhr went to the scene, then drove to City Hall to resign. No complaint there.

But what Iguodala may not know was that at the time Suhr was vigorously pushing police reforms. He campaigned for video body cameras for officers, repeatedly requested stun guns for a less-lethal option and supported and requested a Department of Justice investigation of the department.

When officers were found to be sending homophobic and racist text messages, Suhr called for them to be fired. Suhr also held town hall meetings in neighborhoods where a shooting took place. I attended one in the Mission, where he sat impassively as activists shouted for him to be thrown in jail.

It’s an old story for Suhr. When he was appointed to captain of the Bayview Station, in a neighborhood that is over one-third African-American, the bald, white guy was met with distrust and skepticism.

He turned critics around and became one of station’s most popular captains.

He continues to work in the community, mentoring and supporting at-risk youth. It would not be difficult to find a large group of people of color in that community who strongly support Suhr.

Basically, I’d say this. As police chief, Suhr was undone by the poor judgment of some of his officers, despite his efforts to turn things around. He lost that job and I don’t think even he would say that was unfair.

However, Suhr the administrator, was campaigning for police reform and changing the culture. He was trying to do almost all of what police critics are requesting. That should be noted and credited before vilifying him.

I talked to Suhr afterwards and he said losing the job was not a big deal. But he did have one disappointment.

“Andre Iguodala is my favorite player,” he said.

You can contact C.W. Nevius at cw.nevius@pressdemocrat.com. Twitter: @cwnevius.

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