What better way to celebrate a dominant opening to group play at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London than with a hug from the first lady of the United States?
After the final buzzer of their 98-71 win over France on Sunday, members of the U.S. men's national basketball team shook hands with their vanquished opposition, gathered at center court for a brief cheer, then walked off the court to a rousing ovation from the fans at the Basketball Arena in London. Before they headed back to the locker room, though, they took a quick left and headed straight for Michelle Obama — President Barack Obama's wife, who greeted the full U.S. athletic delegation on Friday — who was seated in the front row to take in the action.
[ Game analysis: USA overcomes slow start to dominate France ]
Led by LeBron James — who played just under 25 of the game's 40 minutes but turned in a sensational all-around effort — the members of Team USA went up, one by one, and got a hug from the first lady.
"I would say Michelle Obama is 'the First Fan' here in London," NBC Sports Network play-by-play announcer Bob Fitzgerald said as the members of the U.S. squad each approached for their quick embrace.
[ Photos: First Lady congratulates Team USA ]
Unibrowed rookie, youngest American basketball player and unofficial team mascot Anthony Davis brought up the rear among the players before head coach Mike Krzyzewski and his assistants brought it in for the real thing.
After the hug line reached its conclusion, Team USA forward Kevin Durant — who led all scorers with 22 points, grabbed nine rebounds and added two assists, two steals and two blocks — spoke with NBC Sports Network sideline reporter Craig Sager about getting to hug the first lady.
"It's crazy, man," Durant said. "I'm just happy I'm here."
And, clearly, so is Mrs. Obama. Hit the jump for more shots of Team USA getting a friendly bit of congratulations from the first lady on a job well done.
Up top, we saw Michelle Obama bringing LeBron James in with the tractor beam; here, we see the finished product. This maneuver received high scores from all but the French judge, for obvious "you just beat us by 27 points" reasons.
Like most of us, the first lady cannot help but look at Russell Westbrook's ... um ... colorful Mohawk. Unlike the rest of us, she has the tact to continue smiling through her bewilderment.
"Oh, I know, Carmelo. You only got 10 shots today. It's OK. You've got Angola coming up."
It's not easy to dissuade Kobe Bryant from going one-on-one and taking contested jump shots rather than, say, passing to LeBron or Durant, but if anyone's going to get through to him, it might just be the wife of the leader of the free world.
At this point, Mrs. Obama appears to have had enough of hugging sweaty athletes. No shade on you, Tyson Chandler — you played great, and I'm sure you smelled likewise — but, still, enough's enough, you know?
"Off to a good start, coach. Keep putting up 27-point wins and the guys will keep getting hugs. Drop down below 20, no more hugs. Capisce?"
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