The Lynx went to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
They went a day early; they don’t play the Mystics until Thursday. They could have taken the day off, but they didn’t. Every time they have won a WNBA title the Lynx have used a trip to Washington the following season to celebrate that championship.
This time it will be a little different.
Instead of a fourth trip to the White House — that invitation never came — the Lynx will attend a local school, where they will give away socks and shoes and spread goodwill.
“We want to serve,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We want to give back, show that this is what champions do.”
The Lynx’s community service comes the same week a trip by the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles was canceled by President Donald Trump.
He said that if the entire team was not going to attend, then they need not show up at all.
To Reeve, though, it’s not about what the team isn’t going to do, but what it will do. She said talk among the players never centered on a White House visit.
“We didn’t want to make it about us,” center Sylvia Fowles said. “So we came up with the idea of, ‘Why don’t we just give back?’ We reached out to Coach, and told her what we were thinking.”
It just so happened that Reeve had just talked with Samaritan’s Feet, a nonprofit that provides shoes to children, about partnering with the organization. So, the day after the season opener May 21, Reeve called them.
In just weeks, Samaritan’s Feet had identified Payne Elementary in D.C. A Title 1 school, 30 percent of its students are homeless and all fall under “low income” status.
Nike, Jordan Brand and DTLR Villa donated new socks and shoes for all 340 students.
“Once it became the idea, and that it could come to fruition, our business people jumped in and were sprinting with it, pulling it together,” Reeve said. “I’m super proud of the players. They could have had a day off. But they were like, ‘Nope, this is how we want to do this. This is how we want to celebrate our 2017 title in D.C.’ ”
It’s unclear whether the team would have gone to the White House had it been invited. Forward Rebekkah Brunson said shortly after the 2017 title was won that she would not accept an invite.
But that issue is moot. NBA star LeBron James, in a news conference Tuesday, expressed disappointment in the Lynx not being invited.
“It’s laughable at this point,” James said. “You always hear the saying: You just laugh to stop you from crying.
‘‘That’s a lot of what’s going on outside of the sports world, but we know how important sports is for our country and how it brings people together, excites people, people talking about it everywhere. Sports is so big because it can captivate people and bring people together.
“So for them not to even be invited — playing our beautiful game of basketball, those women, those girls are unbelievable in doing it — it’s laughable.”
The Lynx will end up doing some good; the distribution of the shoes Wednesday will also include the washing of the students’ feet.
To Fowles, it is a welcome break from a 2-5 start to the season.
“It will be good to take a mental break,” Fowles said, “and focus on others.
‘‘Not everybody gets the opportunity to do something like this. I think we’re more excited than the kids, probably.”