Golden State Warriors hand out free BART tickets to promote environmentalism
on April 8, 2011
On an otherwise uneventful commute across the bay, passengers riding BART from Rockridge to San Francisco on Thursday afternoon were faced with an unusual sight: two pro basketball stars handing out free passes for the train.
Stephen Curry and Ekpe Udoh, two popular Golden State Warriors who play point guard and center respectively, distributed the BART passes—as well as tickets to their game against the Sacramento Kings this Sunday—to promote the use of public transit as part of an annual National Basketball Association nod to environmentalism called “Green Week.” To commemorate the event, now in its third year, NBA teams across the country have been promoting earth-friendly practices. The Oklahoma City Thunder, for instance, recently planted 14 trees in a city park, and several Chicago Bulls accompanied a group of students to the zoo.
At their starting point in Oakland, it took passersby little time to notice the basketball stars. “Stephen Curry!” one woman yelled from a passing car as the players handed out tickets outside the Rockridge BART station. “I love you! I looove you!”
Though the event was meant to celebrate treading the Earth lightly, Curry and Udoh trailed behind them an envoy large enough to fill an entire BART car, including eight armed BART police officers and at least seven cameramen documenting the event, as well as a crowd of Green Week assistants wearing organic cotton t-shirts that labeled them a “Green Mob.”
Despite the disruption, passengers generally welcomed the free tickets. “This is great,” said Oakland resident Sonja Good, who added that the promotion was completely unexpected. “We just walked on, people started sitting down, and these two gentlemen started handing out tickets.”
Sponsorship of the promotion was shared by the Warriors and Esurance, an online auto insurance provider based in San Francisco. Together, the organizations bought $5,000 in BART passes, which the group distributed on cards worth $10 to $50. The Warriors contributed 100 tickets to their match this Sunday at Oakland’s Oracle Arena, each worth about $36. Though BART board president Bob Franklin was in attendance as the mob passed from car to car, the promotion was waged at no cost to the transit agency.
While Curry and Udoh seemed accustomed to the attention they received, the promotion was a learning experience for one of them as well. “It’s my first time on BART,” Curry admitted. “I’ve ridden a lot of public transit before, but it’s my first time here in San Francisco.”
The party disembarked at BART’s Embarcadero station, and on Market Street above, the players passed out the last few tickets as they walked toward San Francisco’s Ferry Building.
When the crowd dispersed, Curry and Udoh departed to “carpool” away separately. As Curry and his entourage piled into a large, black GMC Yukon XL on the Embarcadero, Warriors spokesperson Nicole Rios was quick to dispel any thought of disjunction between Green Week and the sports utility vehicle. “Don’t worry!” she announced. “It’s a hybrid!”
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