The Warriors won’t be visiting the White House to celebrate their 2018 NBA Championship. They didn’t visit the White House last year, and it’s unlikely they’ll step foot in the East Room if they win in the next two years.
This speech is written for an unknown President — not our current President. It‘s written for a President, Democrat or Republican, committed to uniting our country, not dividing it. It’s written for a President with a sense of humor and a respect for the accomplishments of championship teams. Whatever or whoever comes to mind, I hope it sums up the Warriors’ season and the themes that defined it.
I was inspired to write this after Stephen Krupin, a lifelong Washington Capitals fan and former Obama speechwriter, published a speech to honor the Capitals’ Stanley Cup championship in Sports Illustrated. I highly recommend it.
Welcome to the White House! After the parade on Tuesday, it’s good to see that the 2018 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors arrived here in one piece.
*turns to players* How many fingers am I holding up?
I see Nick Young decided to wear a shirt today. It’s an honor, Nick. Or should I say, Swaggy P.
Apologies in advance to Jordan Bell. I’m not sure what you were expecting when you arrived, but we don’t just hand out Hennessey at the White House.
You’ve probably heard by now that the Warriors are pretty good. Their title-winning ways are a commonality. But to understand this group today, it’s essential that we reflect on where they’ve been.
Before this run started four years ago, the Warriors were known as a perennial doormat in the NBA. In 2009, the team drafted a skinny guard from a small college in North Carolina. His last name rhymes with “furry.” Maybe you’ve heard of him. Things changed after that.
Six years later, in 2015. the Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers to win their first Larry O’Brien trophy since 1975. The skinny guard, Steph Curry, won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award. Steph was joined by guys like Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston. It was Coach Steve Kerr’s first season with the team.
Today, you are looking at a dynasty.
The Warriors have matched up with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in every Finals since 2015. These guys have beaten LeBron three times in four years.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are still the Splash Brothers — making our jaws drop each night with their unlimited three-point shooting range. Steph, you are the best shooter of all-time. Klay, you aren’t close behind. All those kids you see at parks around America taking half-court shots? I blame Steph and Klay.
Steph, you‘ve come a long way since your days as the skinny shooter from Davidson College. You’ve worked through some tough injuries. But with resilience and grit, and some new ankles, you came out on the other end, powering this team to another title. You continue to show us all that with passion, creativity and joy, no one can get in the way of a dream.
Klay, you have the prettiest jumper in the league, and are a big reason why this team is here today. We might not be standing here if not for your performance in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. For folks who don’t follow the NBA—Klay is different than many of his NBA peers. He likes sliding under the radar. It’s more likely Klay is in the news for non-basketball reasons —being interviewed about scaffolding on buildings in New York or about his dog, Rocco. Who knows, maybe one day he’ll be the ambassador to China. They seem to like him a lot more than me.
I’d like to welcome Draymond Green back to the White House. As one of the league’s best defenders, he has given the Warriors that toughness needed on any championship team. What people don’t know about Draymond is that he brings that fire to Capitol Hill. Just an hour ago, he was nose-to-nose with Mitch McConnell, screaming about the debt ceiling. Draymond’s tactics work. Just ask Paul Ryan.
Andre Iguodala is here too. He’s the last part of the “Death Lineup,” as they are often called. Andre has been a leader on this team since their first championship journey. Right before this, we were practicing some dunks I could try out at the next State of the Union.
I’m missing someone though, someone big. As many of you know, in 2016, something happened. And I’m not talking about Hillary Clinton refusing to buy a plane ticket to Wisconsin.
No, no. I’m talking about Kevin Durant!
Kevin signed with the Warriors in 2016. He spent eight years with the Oklahoma City Thunder and was ready for a change. People all over the world had opinions about his decision. I wouldn’t know what that’s like, Kevin... for people to have extreme, angry opinions about your work?
I think his rationale was pretty simple. He was searching for a higher level of basketball. One that prioritized the “we” over the “I.” One that was rooted in a collective goal, not an individual one.
And what a theory you had, Kevin. It would be nice if some of our elected leaders understood your idea. After two Finals MVPs and two championships in two years for Kevin, it’s safe to say that it worked out. Congratulations.
There is no shortage of stars on the Warriors, but just like any champion, this team is also defined by its perseverance.
Eleven years ago, doctors weren’t sure Shaun Livingston would be able to walk again after he suffered a terrible leg injury. He fought back and just won his third title with the Warriors.
We can all learn from Zaza Pachulia, who turned disappointment into an opportunity. After starting all season, Zaza found himself on the bench. Instead of sulking, he turned into a coach of sorts, encouraging his teammates every step of the way. That’s what it means to be a teammate.
Dynasties also need veteran leadership. David West is that guy for the Warriors. A 15-year-veteran, David remained a stable leader on the bench and in the paint. After going nearly an entire career without a ring, David has won two in the Bay.
And then there’s Kevon Looney. Life comes at you fast, man. Starting in the playoffs? I bet you didn’t see that one coming. I bet you’ll be more surprised when you see that next contract.
You got Quinn Cook, who took dozens of trips between the G-League and the NBA during the season. He filled in during injuries and hit some big shots. Today, he’s an NBA champion. Also note: Quinn is one of the least-hatable Duke players of all-time.
A couple months ago, Patrick McCaw took a scary fall on the hardwood. It looked rough. We all thought he’d be out for the season, but he battled his way back to play in the Finals. That takes fight.
And then there’s JaVale McGee. Before this season, JaVale was more likely to be a meme than on Sports Center’s Top 10. He played his heart out all year. And JaVale, kudos to you for pulling off the Anakin Skywalker hair. It looks sharp.
Joking aside, the evidence speaks for itself. This team persevered all season. Despite what their critics say, nothing was handed to the 2018 Warriors.
The best coaches make the tough times easier on everybody. And this team has one of the best. Let’s welcome Coach Steve Kerr! Steve embodies a calm boldness — an ethos reflected in the team. Steve is rare breed — he is just as vocal on the court as he is off it. He’s a fierce advocate for gun control and never shies away from civil discourse. Steve, through your actions, you show your peers a collective purpose that’s more than basketball. Your father, Malcolm, would be very proud of you today.
This is a truly decent group of men. Their communities see that every day. The Warriors partnered with Kaiser Permanante’s “Get Fit” program to help community members in the Bay Area find healthy activities to enjoy. Kevin Durant donated $10 million to students in his hometown of Prince George’s County to pay for their college tuitions. JaVale McGee’s Foundation, JUGLIFE, provides water to underdeveloped areas worldwide. And Steph Curry has served as a global ambassador for the “Nothing but Nets” campaign to protect families from Malaria.
The Warriors have read to classrooms of young students across the Bay Area, donated basketball courts to schools, and have provided gifts to those in need during the holidays. They possess a deep sense of responsibility to give back and speak out.
Together, the Warriors represent the diversity, creativity and community of its fans— from Petaluma to Pleasanton — from San Francisco to the Silicon Valley. They are edgy, bright and competitive. Fans in Oakland won’t miss a chance to remind you that the Warriors’ home is Oracle Arena, in Oakland — a city with an identity rooted in the idea that we are stronger because of our differences, not despite them.
Across the Bay, this team holds its strength in numbers; in the management; in the coaching staff; in the fans; and in each other.
It’s an honor to host them here today to celebrate their season. Congratulations again to the 2018 Golden State Warriors!