The Golden State Warriors knew they would not be visiting the White House to celebrate their 2018 NBA title on their annual trip to Washington this week. They hadn't done so last year in recognition of their 2017 championship, with Stephen Curry saying he wouldn't have met with President Trump even if invited and Trump then withdrawing any invitation that may or may not have existed.
Instead, the Warriors this week met with the White House's previous resident, on Thursday paying a visit to former president Barack Obama at his Washington office ahead of their game that night against the Wizards.
According to ESPN's Nick Friedell, a Warriors security official named Tony Banks posted a picture of the team with Obama on Instagram but then deleted it, though Golden State forward Draymond Green then put it up on his own Instagram page.
"It was amazing," Warriors forward Kevin Durant said after Thursday night's game, a 126-118 Warriors win.
ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported that the meeting was set up by Curry, who has become a golfing buddy of Obama's over the years. But the two-time NBA most valuable player played coy when asked about it.
"I have no idea," he said with a smirk.
Said Green: "It was good. A private team meeting, team event, it was good."
Warriors Coach Steve Kerr also was asked about the meeting after Thursday night's game but declined to comment much on it, other than saying he wasn't part of the group that visited Obama but was "happy" that his team met with the former president.
Curry and Green also had a postgame chat with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the U.S. representative from San Francisco:
The Warriors visited the White House after their 2015 title, when Obama called the Warriors "a great basketball team" and "a great organization" with "a great culture."
"And these are outstanding young men," Obama said then. "And some of them I've met before. Steph I've gotten to know a little better. They're just — they're the kind of people you want representing a city, representing the NBA, and the kind of people that you want our kids to be rooting for."
Last February, the Warriors visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture with a group of local schoolchildren in lieu of a White House visit. The kids came from the same Seat Pleasant Rec Center where Durant spent countless hours during his childhood.
"We're celebrating it how we want to celebrate it, and in a unique way," Durant said then of the team's 2018 Washington visit. "To be honest, we didn't even think about the championship. If we'd gone to the White House, we'd have had the trophy there, we'd have reminisced about what we did in the past. But this was about learning, and inspiring youth, and it was amazing."
This week's visit with Obama came a day after Curry visited Howard University for a screening of a documentary film he executive produced about the Emanuel AME Church shooting. Curry also participated in a panel discussion in conjunction with the screening.
"Athletes in general, especially in the NBA, guys are educated. They know what they're talking about," Curry said on Wednesday. "They know what they believe. And there's a reason when you say something there are headlines. People want to hear what you have to say. We shouldn't shy away from it.
"We have a league that supports each other," he continued. "We have a commissioner [Adam Silver] that supports us in using our voice to speak for those who can't speak for themselves. And I think this era of athlete is unafraid to be unapologetically themselves, whatever that means."