Vice President Kamala Harris stops by US Olympic men’s basketball practice

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Vice President Kamala Harris was a surprise guest at the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team’s practice Tuesday, and her message was clear.

“Bring back the gold,” Harris said.

Harris — who flew to Las Vegas on Tuesday for campaign appearances — addressed the team briefly at the end of its fourth and final training camp practice session. She has long said that she’s a Golden State Warriors fan; the U.S. team is coached by the Warriors’ Steve Kerr and includes Warriors guard Stephen Curry.

“It’s a great reminder of the fact that we’re playing for our country,” said Kerr, who has met Harris on multiple occasions because of her Warriors fandom. “Vice President Harris told the guys how much she admired them, how much they really embody excellence and that we are going over there to try to win a gold medal for our country.”

Harris shook hands with the players, chatted briefly with LeBron James and a few others, and posed for a group photo with the team.

“Truly, you all represent the best of the best,” Harris told them. “And being Team USA, it is about representing our nation. You are, as you are every day on and off the court, ambassadors for who we are as a country. You represent leaders in every walk of life. And for you to go to Paris and bring back that gold is just another example of your excellence, your teamwork, your compassion and your commitment.”

U.S. assistant coach Erik Spoelstra said he didn’t know the vice president was coming to practice.

“It was a pretty special moment for the entire group,” Spoelstra said. “She just mentioned that we represent our country and everybody’s going to be watching and rooting for us and it’s a big responsibility. But she knows that we all are putting in the work to represent everybody here and do it with class.”

The U.S. men’s team plays its first of five pre-Olympic exhibition games Wednesday against Canada in Las Vegas. Even though that game won’t have any bearing on the Olympics — the first U.S. game in France is against Serbia on July 28 — Harris encouraged the team to go ahead and start winning now.

“Our nation is cheering you on and we are so proud of you,” Harris said. “Beat Canada and bring back that gold.”

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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