Yesterday, for the second straight year, President Barack Obama welcomed the 2013 NBA champs the Miami Heat to the White House.
"I have to say, I’ve never seen folks more excited than the Heat when they came last year," the President said in a speech delivered in the Roosevelt Room. "I mean, LeBron was so pumped up I thought he was going to give me a hug and knock me over like the guy who hit the half-court shot."
The Heat were just as excited this time around. And, it seemed, so was the President. Obama joked around with Ray Allen about his big-time three pointer in game six of the Finals, and he ribbed Mario Chalmers about getting called out by his teammates.
"I think we should take a picture, but we should make it quick before one of these guys starts yelling at Mario, Obama joked. "I mean, sometimes it’s just a bad pass, guys. It’s not Mario’s fault. I got your back, man."
Lebron, DWade, Chris Bosh, and the rest of the team loved it. They were relaxed standing behind the President, laughing and applauding with each joke.
But there were some serious moments. Before the event at the White House, players and coaches met with wounded vets at Walter Reed Military Hospital. And in his speech, Obama praised the Heat for the work the team does with military veterans.
"Honoring our troops isn’t just something that they do when they come to the White House, it's something they do all year round with their Heat Home Strong initiative," Obama said. "And Pat Riley I know has been hugely invested in this. His incredible admiration for our men and women in uniform, but more concretely his willingness to do something about how we support them is a credit to the entire organization."
At the end of Obama's speech, the Heat presented him with a "POTUS 44" jersey. They also shared a mock NBA Finals trophy the team created during the playoffs to inspire them to win another title. Coach Erik Spoelstra said he hopes to present Obama with a trophy of his own next year once the Heat threepeat.
"We wish them great luck for the rest of the season," Obama said. But he couldn't resist one last dig.
"Unless they’re playing the Bulls."
Photo: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster