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President Obama welcomes Miami Heat to White House to celebrate 2012 title

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By Ben Golliver

President Barack Obama welcomed the Heat to the White House to celebrate their 2012 NBA championship on Monday.

LeBron James, the regular-season and Finals MVP last season, delivered a basketball autographed by the team to Obama, who encouraged him to give a brief speech by saying, "It's your world, man."

James started by thanking the president before veering a little off-the-cuff to express his excitement.

"I mean, on behalf of myself and my teammates we want to thank you for the hospitality, for allowing us to be in the White House," James said. "I mean, we're in the White House! I mean, Prez said that it's real casual, so: We're kids from Chicago, Dallas, Texas, Michigan, Ohio, South Dakota, Miami, and we're in the White House right now! Mama, I made it!"

The comments followed a short speech from Obama, who singled out most of the Heat's roster one-by-one. He called James' play in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics "one of the greatest performances in basketball playoff history," noting that James "had a scary look in his eye" as he scored 45 points.

Obama then turned his attention to the other two members of the Big Three.

"We saw Dwyane Wade, the heart and soul of this team, doing whatever it takes to win, including leading the team in blocks," Obama said. "In the postgame press conferences, he dressed well enough to land himself in GQ Magazine. ... We saw Chris Bosh get injured and get healthy right at the perfect time, do outstanding work throughout the rest of the playoffs."

The president had quips prepared for a number of the Heat's role players. He joked that Mike Miller "could barely walk" and that he "looked broke down" and "like an old man" before he hit seven three-pointers in Game 5 of the Finals against the Thunder. He noted that the Mario Chalmers "earned himself a nickname from Dwyane Wade that I'm not allowed to repeat" and referred to Juwan Howard as "grandpa."

Obama, a noted basketball junkie, concluded his remarks with a word of congratulations and a sly reference to his own rooting interests.

"That team mentality is what finally put the Heat over the top," he said. "It's especially impressive when you think about everything they've had to deal with over the last few years. This team inspired a lot of passion on both sides. ... Even though I'm a little disappointed that the Bulls didn't make it, I do want to congratulate the Heat on a championship."

Wade presented Obama with a Heat jersey bearing his name and the No. 44.

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