WASHINGTON -- Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry said touring the National Museum of African American History and Culture with local students on Tuesday was meant to serve as a unifying alternative after President Donald Trump withdrew the defending NBA champions' White House invite.
"I think generally how unifying it's been with the conversation around how sports are mingling in with, not just with politics, but just change and society," Curry said Wednesday. "Everybody has a voice, and I think when you come to the arena tonight, you'll see people from all walks of life, all different backgrounds enjoying entertainment and sports on the court. It brings people together, and I think that's kind of how it manifested itself with this whole conversation.
"Rhetoric and hate and general disdain from the top, trying to be divisive, had the opposite reaction that I think it intended. We've done our part to try to further that message. I think guys around the league understand the power of their voice and having each other's back, and like we say, just spread love and positivity. That's been the biggest thing that I've noticed in the last year, and that's healthy, and that's what we're all trying to accomplish."
The Warriors toured the museum for three hours with kids from Seat Pleasant, Maryland, the hometown of Kevin Durant. It was Durant's first visit to the museum. He said, "I went in there just like one of those kids, trying to learn and happy to be there."
"It's something that I got to thank Steph, [general manager] Bob Myers, Draymond [Green], the front office for presenting that opportunity to us, and I'm very grateful and appreciative," Durant said. "I can't say enough about them. Those guys are just amazing people. For them to do that for us in my community -- it means a lot to me."
The museum was closed off for the Warriors, and no media members were allowed to cover the event, at the players' request. They wanted the outing to be a personal, intimate experience.
"Just to see the smiles and the excitement," Durant said. "When we walked in, all they screamed was, 'Steph! Klay! KD! Draymond!' For them to know who we are and to see us up close and personal and to be from a place where I grew up and never got the opportunity to see people I looked up to as a kid. So to give them that experience, I have to thank the Warriors organization for thinking about me and my neighborhood that way."
Although it was a private setting, players posted videos of the tour on their Instagram accounts.
"They had a lot of crazy questions and energy," Curry said of the kids. "It was exactly what we were trying to accomplish when we were planning the whole day. I think everything turned out great."
Asked whether he was disappointed that a White House invite was never officially extended, Durant responded, "No. Not at all." When pressed on the White House subject, Durant replied, "We had a great time yesterday."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told ESPN she thought it was "beautiful" that the Warriors toured the museum with students.
"What's lovely about it, what I was proud of is that they said a long time ago that they wanted to do community service when they came here and how lovely it was for them to be with Durant when he could go home and do community service there and show the kids what the possibilities are," Pelosi said. "And then to go to the museum and bringing the children, what they did was beautiful."
Forty students joined the Warriors at the museum, and 30 tickets will be distributed to an additional 30 students from the Seat Pleasant area for Wednesday night's game against the Washington Wizards.
"The museum was amazing," coach Steve Kerr said. "If you haven't been before, you've got to go. It's one of the most powerful experiences you'll ever have. Our guys were really happy to be there and to be with kids from Seat Pleasant. It was a great day."
The location of the tour was supposed to be kept a secret for security concerns, but Monday night after the Warriors defeated the New York Knicks, Klay Thompson casually informed the media that the team would be gathering at the museum.
His teammates said that was typical Thompson.
"That's just like Klay," Durant said while laughing. "It's all good. I'm sure somebody would have figured it out."
"That doesn't surprise me," Shaun Livingston added. "That's my quote, and I'm sticking to it."
"No surprise at all," Curry said.
Overall, the Warriors said they were happy with how they handled their D.C. arrival. Many also pointed to how the event benefited a younger generation.
"It was a great experience for a lot of us who have never been to the National African American and Culture Museum to get that experience and understand the history that's a part of the fabric of this country," Curry said. "And to bring the kids in to mix and mingle, it seems like they had a really good time."