Monte Poole

Bravo For Durant: No White House visit proves he has a set of principles

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AP

Bravo For Durant: No White House visit proves he has a set of principles

Though the Warriors have yet to receive an invitation to visit the White House in the wake of their championship season, one of their superstars already has decided he would not participate.

Kevin Durant, the NBA Finals MVP who grew up practically in the shadow of the White House, said he would not visit.

"Nah, I won't do that," Durant told ESPN on Thursday. "I don't respect who's in office right now."

Bravo for Durant. For speaking up when so many others are silent and, by acknowledging that this is an individual decision, proving he is willing to stand on a personal set of principles.

Visiting his hometown of Seat Pleasant, Md. for “Kevin Durant Day,” the forward didn’t mention President Donald Trump by name but made clear his disdain for the man who currently occupies the White House.

"I don't agree with what he agrees with, so my voice is going to be heard by not doing that," Durant said. "That's just me personally, but if I know my guys well enough, they'll all agree with me."

Durant is not the first Warrior to publicly express such sentiments. Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston have specifically said they would not be willing to make the visit that has become customary for American championship teams. Coach Steve Kerr and veteran forward David West have been vocal in denouncing Trump’s discriminatory rhetoric and boorish behavior.

Uncertain whether an invitation is forthcoming, the Warriors issued a statement in June saying any collective decision regarding a White House visit would be made “when and if necessary.”

Their championship season ended two months ago. Training camp for next season begins next month. There has been no invitation.

Durant’s comments Thursday represent his first that directly address the possibility of visiting the White House. The Warriors, after their 2105 championship, made the visit when Barack Obama was president.

"I just wanted to sit back and analyze everything and gather my thoughts," he told ESPN. "I wanted to say something immediately, but I definitely want to be the voice of where I come from and people who have come from my neighborhood and deal with oppression.”

Addressing the division that has infected the national landscape, Durant pointed directly at Trump.

"He's definitely driving it," Durant said. "I feel ever since he's got into office, or since he ran for the presidency, our country has been so divided and it's not a coincidence. When Obama was in office, things were looking up. We had so much hope in our communities where I come from because we had a black president, and that was a first.

"So, to see that, and to be where we are now, it just felt like we took a turn for the worse, man. It all comes from who is in the administration. It comes from the top -- leadership trickles down to the rest of us. So, you know, if we have someone in office that doesn't care about all people, then we won't go anywhere as a country. In my opinion, until we get him out of here, we won't see any progress."

Though not all Warriors have publicly commented on the subject, Durant’s hunch is accurate. This team has a collective conscience. There are causes in which every member believes, and two such causes are equality and inclusiveness.

Those alone are enough to ensure they would not splinter on this issue.

Top 12 Warriors games to watch during the 2017-18 season

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USATSI

Top 12 Warriors games to watch during the 2017-18 season

The NBA schedule has been released and the Warriors have to be delighted.

There are no road trips of more than six games.

And there are 14 back-to-back sets, a reduction from 17 such games last season.

As defending champions, the Warriors will have a number of marquee games sure to attract widespread attention. Here are a dozen such games:

Oct. 17: Rockets at Warriors -- One year after eclipsing the Warriors’ record for most 3-pointers made in a season, Houston adds future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul to play alongside MVP runner-up James Harden. Does that explain why Stephen Curry is “curious” about a matchup between the NBA’s highest-scoring teams?

Oct. 27: Wizards at Warriors -- In taking the Celtics to seven in the conference semifinals -- in their first season under coach Scott Brooks -- Washington is an established top-four team in the East. In addition, few NBA duels are more enjoyable than Stephen Curry vs. John Wall.

Nov. 2: Warriors at Spurs -- This is for those who remember what happened on opening night last season as well as the tone set early in Game 1 of the Conference Finals -- before the loss of Kawhi Leonard changed the course of that game and altered the arc of the series.

Nov. 8: Timberwolves at Warriors -- Pump the brakes, everyone. Even with Jimmy Butler Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson coming over, Minnesota is not ready to seriously contend. Given the young incumbent talent, however, they are prepared to start a very real rise in the West.

Nov. 11: 76ers at Warriors -- Cross your fingers and hope the future of Philly -- Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric and Ben Simmons -- is healthy for this trip into Oracle Arena. This promises more fun than competition.

Nov. 16: Warriors at Celtics -- Boston posted the best record in the Eastern Conference and over the past two seasons has managed a split of four regular-season games against the Warriors. Adding All-Star forward Gordon Hayward puts the Celtics in position to seriously challenge the Cavs for conference supremacy.

Nov. 22: Warriors at Thunder -- One year after losing Durant, Oklahoma City replaces him with Paul George. He’s no KD, but if PG can productively coexist with MVP Russell Westbrook -- and if big man Steven Adams can rebound from last season -- this can become a very interesting season series.

Dec. 22: Lakers at Warriors -- Lonzo Ball comes to Oakland.

Dec. 25: Cavaliers at Warriors -- Though much can change regarding the future of Kyrie Irving’s place on the Cleveland roster, this still is a rematch of the teams that met in the last three NBA Finals. It’s LeBron and his bunch vs. Steph and KD and their crew, the best and most enduring matchup in the NBA. It’s must-see TV.

Jan. 12: Warriors at Bucks -- The rising young Bucks, who snapped the Warriors’ 24-game win streak in 2015, tend to play the Warriors tough at home. The Warriors are minus-10 over their last two games in Milwaukee. Another reason to look forward to this: Kevin Durant vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo on the same floor.

Jan. 13: Warriors at Raptors -- Though the Raptors can challenge any team, this game poses a particular threat insofar as it’s the second night of a back-to-back set -- followed two nights later by a prime-time game at Cleveland.

Jan. 15: Warriors at Cavaliers -- Fourth game in three nights, and the middle of a five-game road trip that easily is the toughest stretch of the season.

Steph Curry poised to do big things off the court: 'The contract does...'

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AP

Steph Curry poised to do big things off the court: 'The contract does...'

He transcends his sport, his name synonymous with incredible talent in an unimposing physique and an image so wholesome that even now, nearly a decade into a soaring NBA career, some question its authenticity.

Where does Stephen Curry, comfortable with his celebrity and armed with a contract worth more than $200 million, take his star?

Does he fall into the benign complacency that defined Michael Jordan during his fabulous career? Does Curry take more of a David Robinson route and focus primarily on a specific element -- education -- in hopes of making a difference? Does he choose the Magic Johnson approach, investing in communities often shunned by the wealthy?

Or might Curry follow the path of the late Arthur Ashe -- who spoke softly, sensibly and with absolute dignity on human rights -- and stick his toes a wee bit deeper into the treacherous sea of sociopolitical activism?

The global impact door, and its floor, is as open to a sports superstar now as it may ever be. And here is Curry, an athlete of such universal adoration and insane national popularity that everywhere he goes folks hang on his mere presence. A generation after kids wanted to be like Mike, the young dream of emulating Steph.

Curry senses this. Moreover, he is affected by it. One month after becoming the highest-paid team athlete in American history, with an average annual salary of $40.2 million over the next five years, his mind is filled with relevant questions about his next steps, including one that speaks of his well-documented selflessness and clear understanding of his status:

How can I help others?

Curry’s concern along those lines was apparent this week in Walnut Creek during his SC30 Select camp for some of the nation’s top prep players.

“I don’t want to get too deep into it, but for the last couple years I’ve been trying to figure out how I can make the most impact off the court, on a consistent and impactful basis going forward,” Curry said.

“Obviously keying in on the Bay Area, specifically, to hopefully leave a lasting impact for all the good that has happened in my life and to my family since I’ve been here over the last eight years, and over the next five to really impact the community for the better,” he added. “And use my platform -- not only just dollars -- but my platform and connections and ideas to make that happen.

“The contract does put more of a responsibility on myself to make that happen. And I’m obviously aware of that.”

Curry, 29, already has created and supported numerous charities and causes that help the less fortunate, including his Nothing But Nets campaign, the Animal Rescue Foundation, the United Nations Foundation and work with the NBA Cares program. The 2013-14 NBA Community Assist award winner, he is scheduled to participate in the fourth annual Athletes vs. Cancer flag football game this week in Burbank.

Oh, there is plenty more that stands as testimony to Curry’s character and intentions. For five years running, he personally appeared at an Oakland church to provide food and more for hundreds of underprivileged families through the Feed The Children foundation. We’re but a few months removed from Curry auctioning off two pairs of autographed shoes for $45,201, with every cent going to survivors of the December 2016 Ghost Ship fire in Oakland.

Make-A-Wish? Of course, as well as seriously ill children unaffiliated with that particular foundation.

We know where Curry’s heart is. We see it all the time.

We also know Curry will go nowhere near the naked self-absorption that trapped Floyd Mayweather, or the willful isolation that often separated Barry Bonds as he smashed the game of baseball. Curry is too committed to his faith to allow himself to fall victim to such vanity.

What we don’t yet know -- and what he himself is trying to determine -- is how involved and on what scale. How far does he wish to extend his reach?

Though Curry tends to be careful with his public comments, he will speak out on issues about which he feels strongly. He has, for instance, made it clear he is not a fan of the current president. He has expressed his dismay with the so-called “bathroom bill” in his home state of North Carolina.

The implication, for now, is that Curry, for now, is thinking first of the area he calls home. It’s where his star took flight. It’s his comfort zone. He is a spectacular basketball player who goes beyond the game yet yearns to do even more.

“I have a great team around me that’s going to help me do that,” Curry said. “There’s a huge opportunity and potential to not only win championships and give our fans amazing memories, but also do some really, really good in the community -- more than I’ve done up until this point.”

Curry’s everyman appeal and common touch allows virtually unlimited influence. He will be involved. He will help people. We’re about to discover just how much.