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Warriors recall time spent in DC with underprivileged youth

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Kevin Durant, seen here in February, is the odds-on favorite to win the NBA Finals MVP. (Joel Angel Juarez/Special to S.F. Examiner)

WASHINGTON — The Warriors had a day off on Tuesday but didn’t spend it laying low or preparing for the stretch run.

The reigning champions instead used the time in the nation’s capital to make an impact on the lives of children in the area where Kevin Durant grew up.

At shootaround on Wednesday, Golden State players and coaches batted away questions about the White House and its inhabitants; they insisted there wasn’t much to say. But they did have plenty of stories to share from their visit to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture with 40 children from Seat Pleasant, Md., and 10 more with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, which assists those who lost a loved one serving in the military.

“Just to see the smiles and the excitement,” Durant remembered. “When we walked in, all we were hearing was, ‘Steph! Klay! KD! Draymond!’”

Naturally, spending time with children produced some funny stories. Like when an 8-year-old boy named Ryan bolted from head coach Steve Kerr’s side to say hi to one of his favorite players.

“I’m talking to him, he goes, ‘Oh my god, there’s Quinn Cook,’” Kerr recalled.

Cook is on a two-way contract with Golden State but grew up in Prince George’s County.

“And he ran over to Quinn Cook. And I’m like, ‘Not Steph?’ But he loved Quinn Cook,” Kerr said. “That was cool. You could see so many of these kids knew all of our players, not just our superstars.”

The Warriors didn’t care much to meet the president, they were more than content spending their time with Ryan.

The whole experience left a lasting impression on Stephen Curry, who was the catalyst for the Warriors skipping the White House in the first place. In September, President Donald Trump tweeted they weren’t invited despite winning the NBA Championship after learning of Curry’s criticism of him.

Curry said the whole experience — from before the season until this week — taught him that sports and politics are inseparable and athletes have more potential to do good than they might think.

“Everybody has a voice,” Curry said. “… Rhetoric and hate and disdain from the top, trying to be divisive, has had the opposite reaction of what it intended. We’ve done our part to further that message as guys around the league realize the power of their voice. We have each others’ backs and [we’re] spreading love and positivity.”

Durant announced on Tuesday a $10 million donation to Prince George’s County Public Schools and College Track, a program that aids underprivileged students attend college.

“You gain some experiences and you go through so much as a person, you want to help out the younger generation,” Durant said. “You want to try to lead them into the right direction.”

Kerr, who said visiting the museum was “one of the more powerful experiences you’ll ever have,” thought Durant’s donation was indicative of the character of the NBA as a whole.

“I’m proud of being a part of the league,” he said. “So many guys out there on every team are really doing positive things. They understand their impact on communities.”

jpalmer@sfexaminer.com

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