Pres. Obama gives Miami Heat a White House welcome
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Armed with one liners, a few digs, and a broad smile, President Barack Obama welcomed the 2013 NBA Champions, the Miami Heat, to the White House Tuesday afternoon, and congratulated them on winning the world championship for a second year in a row.
“Last season the Heat put together one of the most dominating regular seasons ever by a defending champion,” said the President, flanked by the team’s players, coaches and owners.
“They won a team record 66 games,” he continued. “At one point they won 27 games straight–the second longest winning streak ever. Extraordinarily Impressive.”
Then came the zinger: “Almost as impressive as the Bulls’ 72-win season.”
Obama has long made it known that his favorite team is his hometown Chicago Bulls.
The President also mentioned Heat members by name, pointing out each player’s strengths and mentioning a few quirks and game stats.
“One of the cool things about this job is welcoming championship sports teams from across the sporting world to the White House. And usually people enjoy coming to the White House. I have to say I’ve never seen folks more excited than the Heat when they came last year. I mean, Lebron [James] was so pumped up, I thought he was going to give me a hug and knock me over like the guy in ‘SportsCenter’ who hit the half-court shot,” Obama joked.
When pointing out that members of Congress from both parties were in the audience, Obama took a jab at the partisan rancor in Washington, without actually mentioning it.
“We’ve got some outstanding members of Congress who are big fans of the Heat. They’re from both parties. Because we all know nothing brings people together like the Miami Heat,” he said.
Obama also mentioned that the team spent part of the day with wounded warriors at Walter Reed National Military Center, and pointed out that some wounded warriors were in the audience. He also thanked the team for their continued commitment to veterans.
At the end of the ceremony, Coach Erik Spoelstra handed Obama a black statuette with a black basketball on the top. It included all the games, team members’ names, and the President’s name in the middle in large lettering.
The coach then handed Obama an honorary team jersey with the word “POTUS” and the number “44,” signifying his title — President of the United States, and the fact that he is the 44th president.
Obama smiled and said, “You guys are winning me over a little bit. Getting there.”
The President then posed for pictures, and shook hands with seated guests. And despite his 6’1″ frame, he at times seemed dwarfed by the very tall team.