By CHRIS MEGERIAN and AAMER MADHANI
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden celebrated the NBA champion Golden State Warriors at the White House on Tuesday as he expressed concern for Californians who have suffered through waves of destructive weather.
“We’re all closely monitoring the storms, the floods, the landslides all across California, and our heart is with all of the families of the communities that are hurting,” he said.
Biden plans to visit the state Thursday, and he has approved disaster assistance for the state.
The Warriors have won four championships in eight years, but they didn’t visit the White House while Donald Trump was president. He made a show of publicly disinviting them after Stephen Curry, the team’s star, said he wasn’t interested in going.
“The Golden State Warriors are always welcome in this White House,” Biden said. He also honored Curry as “one of the great sportsmen of our time.”
He said the Warriors’ “reflect America” with their style of play, showcasing “constant motion, with individual freedom and personality that comes together as one team, a team that plays with joy, with drive to be their best.”
The Warriors beat the Boston Celtics in a six-game championship series last year, a victory that came after a difficult stretch for the team.
Although they won the championship in 2015, 2017 and 2018, their dreams of a dynasty fell apart when key players were injured. The Warriors fell to the bottom of the league.
“The last couple of years were pretty tough,” Biden said. “Critics wondered if this team was gone for good as a championship team.”
Biden has faced his share of doubters over the years, and he joked, “Fellas, I know what it feels like.”
Vice President Kamala Harris, a California native and longtime Warriors fan, spoke first at Tuesday’s ceremony.
“As a very proud daughter of Oakland, California, it gives me immense personal pride as the vice president of the United States to say, Dub Nation is in the house,” she said.
Harris said she has a custom Warriors jersey that she keeps by her treadmill at home, calling it “a symbol of grit, determination and teamwork.”
Along with Biden, Harris got a new jersey from Curry on Tuesday. It had the number 1 — for No. 1 fan, she remarked — and Biden got one with 46, since he’s the 46th president.
Curry said he hopes to see it “on the wall of the Oval Office”
“Hopefully we can come back and check if it’s up there,” he said.
Curry and coach Steve Kerr stopped by the White House briefing room before the ceremony.
Curry thanked the administration for its work to bring home Brittney Griner, the women’s basketball star who had been jailed in Russia on drug charges. He called her a “big part of our basketball family.”
“It means a lot to know that she’s here and home safe with her family,” Curry said.
Kerr said he participated in a roundtable on gun violence with White House officials and two of his players, Moses Moody and Klay Thompson.
“We learned a lot about what this administration is doing to help create a safer environment in our country,” Kerr said.
Biden signed gun legislation last year, but he’s pledged to keep working toward tighter restrictions, including an assault weapons ban.
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