President Barack Obama sat courtside in Chicago for the Bulls’ season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers Tuesday night at the United Center. Chicago beat LeBron James and Cleveland, 97–95, when Pau Gasol blocked James’s game-tying layup in the final seconds.
Obama, who still owns a house in Hyde Park on the city’s South Side, entered the arena in the middle of the first quarter and made his way to center court to take in the game.
Obama did an interview with TNT in the middle of the second quarter and shared some thoughts on the Bulls and new coach Fred Hoiberg. He said he was “optimistic” about the season for Chicago and that he was glad the team plays in the Eastern Conference, referring to the West as a “free-for-all,” a fairly accurate statement.
“I think it’s very promising,” Obama said. “You’ve got a new coach, he's opening up the new offense a little bit. The question is whether they can hang onto the defense with the new offense.”
Obama is in Chicago to deliver a speech at the annual conference for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The president has voiced his hope for stricter gun control laws in the United States.
“I believe our league is the greatest league that we have in the world. We have the greatest athletes and greatest fans and so on and so on,” LeBron James told reporters on Tuesday. “So [for] the president of the United States to grace us on opening night in Chicago, I’m just honored. Something I can tell my kids a long, long time from now. I’ll actually be able to have the film showing them—kids don't believe me sometimes—I’ll be able to show them the film that the president of the United States was at a ballgame I played in. That’s pretty cool.”
Tuesday night’s game marks the second time Obama has attended a regular season NBA game as president. In February 2009, Obama took in a game between the Bulls and the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. The president also attended a U.S.A. basketball exhibition game against Brazil in the lead-up to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, where the U.S. won gold.