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'You are winners': Kamala Harris delivers awkward, tone-deaf speech after her alma mater's basketball team loses by almost 30 points

Screenshot of @MarchMadnessMBB Twitter video

On Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris attended the NCAA tournament matchup between her alma mater, Howard University, and Kansas and afterward treated her team to a speech that has since gone viral because of its awkward tone.

That day, the Howard University Bison men's basketball team had much to be proud of. They had qualified for the NCAA tournament for just the third time in the team's history and for the first time in over 30 years. As a 16 seed facing a traditional basketball powerhouse, the Bison had little chance of success in the tournament's opening round, so few were surprised that Kansas easily prevailed, 96-68.

After the game, Harris joined the team in the locker room and tried to put a positive spin on the experience, giving her own version of the saying, "It's not whether you win or lose. It's how you play the game."

"You guys are so good," Harris said, grinning ear to ear. "You played hard. You played to the very last second. You made all of us Bison so, so proud. You hustled out there. You are smart. You are disciplined. You put everything you had into the game. And that’s what it’s about, right? Until the last minute. You guys did that."

Harris also joked that when she was a student at Howard in the early 1980s, fans were just happy to have a team play a game, let alone play a game in March Madness. "Literally, what you have done is in historic proportion," she insisted, though it is unclear what historical feat the team achieved in the loss.

She eventually seemed to intuit that the players were not just happy to be there and that they had actually wanted to win, so she then seemed to try to change their perspective about themselves. "I know you might not be feeling great right now, OK, but know who you are: You are excellence, you are hard work, you are powerful, and you are winners," she stated.

As might be expected, most of the replies to the tweet from the NCAA March Madness account, which shared video of the speech, panned Harris and her delivery, often in humorous ways.

"Every team that loses should have to listen to this as punishment," said one popular comment.

"The only thing worse than losing would be having to hear her speak," said another.

Those Twitter users weren't the only ones to voice their displeasure with Harris. Hours before Harris made the awkward speech, the crowd at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, made its opinion of Harris known. When the jumbotron flashed the image of Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, enjoying the game from a suite, the boos and jeers clearly outnumbered the cheers, the AP and New York Post reported. However, the crowd reaction captured in the following video is difficult to hear.

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