At this point in our media-saturated lives, we've seen enough athlete visits to the White House that a single random meeting of sports stars and our president does not register as a year-defining event. However, it's always notable when the NBA champion heads to the White House to meet with President Barack Obama, a genuine basketball obsessive. It's one of the few times (or maybe the only time) when the president seems just as excited to hang with the athletes as they are to meet with him.
On Monday afternoon, the reigning NBA champion Miami Heat stopped by the White House for their official visit with President Obama. Not surprisingly, they had a really good time. The highlight was a set of off-the-cuff (if not unplanned) remarks from superstar LeBron James, who spoke about the thrill of being at the White House and the Heat's roots. Beyond the words, though, it's obvious that he's just very excited to be there. A global basketball icon seems more like a little kid.
Check out the video of LeBron above (via The Point Forward). After the jump, take a look at the jokes President Obama made at the Heat's expense, along with some photos from the scene and full video of the appearance.
As Obama noted, this was not the first time some members of the team had been to the White House. In August 2010, Obama played a star-studded pickup game with LeBron, Dwyane Wade, and Shane Battier, amongst others. On Monday, he joked that the game had a major effect on the Heat's title run:
A few of them were here a couple years ago for a pickup game on my birthday. Now, I'm not trying to take all the credit coach, but I think it's clear that going up against me prepared them to take on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It sharpened their skills, it gave them the competitive edge they needed, and I think part of the reason they came back today is they wanted another shot at the old guy.
The jokes kept coming. Shortly after, President Obama pointed to Wade's shoes and asked a question of the assembled press:
If any of you can pull this off, other than Dwyane, let me know.
Obama also poked fun at reserve sharpshooter Mike Miller, whose Finals-record seven three-pointers in Game 5 helped clinch the title:
Mike Miller could barely walk. Mike, you look better now. You looked broke down, last year. ... He looked like an old man.
However, the president didn't only crack jokes. At various points in his brief remarks, he praised the Heat's resilience in coming back from their disappointing loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals, referring to Wade as the "heart and soul of the this team." He also commended the team's non-basketball endeavors, including the day's earlier visits with wounded troops at Walter Reed Hospital and the considerable efforts of James, Wade, and Chris Bosh to promote the importance of being a present and active father.
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It wasn't a particularly shocking White House appearance — no players refused to attend for political reasons and the ceremony went as planned. But it's pretty cool that everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. And these photos prove it.
Next, LeBron and Wade take a photo next to the official portrait of President Bill Clinton (via @KingJames on Instagram):
If you want to watch the full Heat/Obama ceremony (via SLAM), enjoy yourself right here:
Then imagine how different things would have been if the Heat had met with President Mitt Romney.
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