It’s old news by now — the Golden State Warriors will not be attending the traditional White House post-championship photo op.
Instead, they’ll be touring the National Museum of African American History and Culture with students from Seat Pleasant, Maryland, which is Kevin Durant’s home neighborhood. Importantly, no media will be allowed at the event; this is a specific preemptive dig at those who may want to claim this is all some stupid PR stunt.
This is cool on a number of levels, but the one that resonates most strongly with me is that they chose to embrace positivity. I’m a pretty optimistic person and generally defer to being hopeful and embracing the affirmative rather than the negative (some would even call me a tree-hugging hippie). The Warriors probably don’t think of themselves along these exact same lines, but I really appreciate the tone of their response on this White House visit (or lack thereof). Rather than wallow in the pit of moral superiority, the Warriors made a conscious choice to interact directly with fans in a way that highlights the contributions of African Americans. For a group that is being told to “shut up and dribble” or “shut up and play football”, this is an eloquent rebuttal that exposes the fallacy of those sentiments.
There’s a saying about “the eyes are the windows to the soul” that I’ve always took to mean that looking into someone’s eyes tells you a lot about them. But it can also refer to the fact that the eye windows are also how our souls look out at the world — by filling these kids with mental images of these star athletes interacting within these amazing displays of their cultural accomplishments, the Warriors and the children are going to be fueling an internal dialogue that will probably resonate with them for the rest of their lives.
A window into what can change
Warriors players also talked about what they think our near-term steps might be. Change is like Ocean rise - it doesn’t happen all in one big smooth push. Rather, there are ebbs and flows.. and sometimes huge immediate leaps. Anthony Slater of the Athletic had the brilliant premise of asking Warriors players and staff a couple of relatively simple questions - and here are some of my favorite answers:
— What’s something you think can realistically be fixed in our country in the next five years?
Curry: Shoot. Problem is there’s so many things we’ve been discussing, whether it’s gun control, race relations, gender equality. So many conversations, all for good reasons to help us progress as a nation.
The one thing that’s realistic that will change? I think gun control is the most realistic because I don’t know what other examples we need about having to create a safe environment for kids going to school. We obviously know what happened in Florida, what’s happened historically with all the school shootings.
That’s just a simple policy change that can help. Simple as in it seems pretty common sense. I know there are people on both sides, but it’s pretty clear if we’re really trying to protect the next generation, that’s a must. The conversation has already been started and I think there’s enough momentum to get over the hump.
West: So, a truth movement, some sort of raw truth, as opposed to a lot of the reassuring lies that comfort our society in particular.
People are comfortable in things that have been factually disproven, I guess you would say. That would be one thing.
— What still encourages you about the country?
Durant: There’s still a lot of love out here. You see a lot of things going on in our communities, not just with celebrities but people that are on the ground every single day trying to make the communities better.
Myers: We’ve gone away from apathy. I like that people are starting to care more. Whatever emotion you want to use — upset, frustrated, even people who are happy — apathy is the worst thing we can be. And I don’t sense apathy.
I think that’s enough of the large block quotes, but you get the idea that this team “gets it” in a way that the world really needs right now.
It’s a great time to be a fan of the Golden State Warriors, both on the court, and off of it.