Bulls visit President Obama

WASHINGTON (TICKER) —The Chicago Bulls became the first professional sports franchise welcomed to the White House by President Barack Obama on Thursday.

A trip to the White House is usually reserved for the team that wins the championship game of its respective sport. But Obama, a former senator of Illinois, is a lifelong Bulls fan.

The Bulls are in town to face the Washington Wizards on Friday.

Bulls rookie point guard Derrick Rose was in awe of the opportunity to meet the President.

“It was crazy just being here,” the No. 1 pick of June’s draft told NBA.com.

“I’ve never had the chance to be at the White House, but the President gave us the opportunity to come, so that’s what we did. I was nervous just to stand next to him, but then for someone like him to even know my name was just amazing.”

Rose said he was impressed with Obama’s knowledge of the team.

“He knew just about everyone on our team and you could tell he’s a real Bulls fan,” said Rose, who is second among rookies in scoring (16.6 ppg).

The former Memphis standout also spoke of the importance of Obama becoming the first African-American president in the history of the United States.

“He gives you hope,” Rose said. “Just like no one thought he would become President, no one thought that I could grow up and become the first pick in the draft. I think it gives people everywhere a little extra hope.”

The Bulls released a statement earlier in the day on visiting Obama.

“The opportunity to visit President Obama at the White House is a great honor for the Chicago Bulls organization,” executive vice president of business operations Steve Schanwald said.

“The President has been a fan of the Bulls for many years and we are very appreciative of this opportunity to say hello to him and pay our respects.”

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Updated Thursday, Feb 26, 2009