It is tradition in the US for the champions of each sports league to make a trip to the White House to meet the president. On Monday, the 2012 NBA champion Miami Heat paid President Barack Obama a visit. Obama is a well-known basketball obsessive and even played a pick-up game on his birthday a few years ago with some of the members of the Heat.
So he took full advantage of the occasion, and his friendship with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, to crack a few jokes.
He began by reminding everyone of that pick-up game a few years ago that included James Wade and Shane Battier:
“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.”
He also took the opportunity to pick on Dwayne Wade’s sartorial elegance, asking Wade to show off his “kicks”. Then he turned to the audience and said: “If any of you can pull this off, other than Dwyane, let me know”.
Jokes aside, there was a serious side to the president’s statement as well. He talked about the Heat’s disappointment at losing the NBA finals to the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 and how they refused to let that defeat them. “Instead of getting down, they got better,” Obama said.
Obama also had a message for the way the players carry themselves off the court. He praised Wade, Lebron and Chris Bosh for the way they behave as parents. “They take their roles as fathers seriously,” he said. “They are there for them day in and day out and that is a good message to send.”
Then it was back to the jokes to close his speech. “Now we are going to take a picture that makes me look very short.”
Obama wasn’t the only one to speak. Lebron had a few things to say and you can see how excited he was to be there. “We in the White House right now. This is like: Mama. I made it,” the best basketball player on the planet said.
Typically the last word was left to Wade. Turning to Obama, he said: “We got a 10-day contract left. Let’s pick the man [Obama] up.”
Watch the full ceremony below: