Children and staff from the Seat Pleasant Activity Center in Maryland attended the Warriors vs. Wizards game in Washington, D.C., where Kevin Durant (right) grew up. Feb. 29, 2018 (Seat center/Getty Images)
Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors dribbles the ball against the Washington Wizards during the second half at Capital One Arena on February 28, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors dribbles past Tomas Satoransky #31 of the Washington Wizards during the first half at Capital One Arena on February 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
It’s safe to assume that 40 children were thrilled that President Trump didn’t invite the Golden State Warriors to the White House as is tradition when an NBA team wins the championship.
“They were shivering and quivering,” said Anica O’Neil, program manager for the Seat Pleasant Activity in Maryland, where a contingent of afterschool students was treated by the Warriors to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. and attend a game against the Washington Wizards this week.
One child even got to shake coach Steve Kerr’s hand. “He said he’d never wash it again,” O’Neil said.
Trump never ended up inviting the Warriors to the White House, and many on the team said they wouldn’t go even if they had been asked – a departure from their previous visit in 2016 when President Obama welcomed them with open arms. Several of the players and Kerr have been openly critical of the Trump administration’s stances on guns and immigration.
Instead, the team decided to do something different. Kevin Durant grew up in Maryland, eight miles from the White House, and specifically, started playing basketball at the Seat Pleasant Activity Center when he was 9 years old.
“He told his mom he wanted to play professionally, and his mom knew where to bring him,” said recreation specialist Melvin McCrary.
So Durant decided to invite the children from his childhood basketball launching pad on a once-in-a-lifetime tour.
“We never had those opportunities, coming from Seat Pleasant,” Durant told reporters Tuesday night, the Washington Post reported. “Getting to hang around with the best team in the NBA, the world champions, we never got that opportunity at that age. To be able to provide them that type of experience, it’s going to do a lot for those kids. They’re going to remember this for the rest of their lives.”
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On Tuesday, the Warriors took the children to the museum, and on Wednesday, they took them to the game against the Washington Wizards, where the Warriors won 109-101. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) – Democrats who represent San Francisco and Oakland, respectively – waited outside the visitor’s locker room inside Capital One Arena to greet the players and coaches as they exited the building.
The Warriors visit was a complete surprise.
“They knew they were going on some kind of field trip,” O’Neil said. “But when they saw the players, they were so nervous and so overjoyed. I don’t know how to even express it.”