President Barack Obama, flanked by the Miami Heat during Tuesday's White House ceremony to honor the 2012-13 NBA champions.(Photo: Carolyn Kaster, AP)
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama welcomed the Miami Heat back to
the White House on Tuesday, this time to honor the team for its 2012-13
The president opened by recounting the numerous accomplishments of the team last season, including Miami's team-record 66 wins.
impressive, almost as impressive as the (Chicago) Bulls' 72-win
season," said Obama, referencing his hometown NBA team.
remained lighthearted throughout the ceremony and told numerous jokes
that received applause and laughter during a five-minute speech.
VIDEO: Obama congratulates team
explaining how nothing brings Democrats and Republicans together like
sports, Obama said politicians in both parties were excited about Miami
making its second trip to the White House.
"Because we all know
nothing brings people together like the Miami Heat," he said. "Across
the NBA, there's just a unifying sense about the Heat."
was safe from the president's jibes. Obama asked guard Ray Allen if he
knew people could read his lips when he made his comments about the
ropes being brought out to keep fans from the court during the final
seconds of what seemed like a loss in Game 6 of the NBA Finals against
the San Antonio Spurs.
"And then Ray Allen saw them bring out the ropes and with five
seconds left, Chris Bosh gets an incredible offensive rebound, passes it
out to Ray," Obama said.
"Ray is backing up, he's got to jump
forward (and) hits one of the most iconic shots of all time (to tie the
game and send it to overtime). ... And then he added a few choice words
about the ropes, which we cannot repeat here," the president said, to
The president also made sure Chris "Birdman"
Andersen knew the pivotal role his tattoos and mohawk played during the
team's playoff run.
"Everybody on this team participated," Obama
said. "From Ray's big shot, to the contributions of Mario Chalmers,
Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem, Birdman. ... Birdman's tattoos, Birdman's
mohawk, the Heat showed us the kind of heart and determination it takes
to be a champion."
The president couldn't help but laugh at his
own joke, and he was joined by members of the team who couldn't contain
their stoic appearance.
This time, the team gave Obama a jersey
with the name "POTUS" and the number 44 on the back. Coach Erik
Spoelstra also presented the president with a trophy that had signatures
from each member of the team, as well as a signed basketball.
"Well, this is a great honor for the entire Miami Heat family. It never gets old," Spoelstra said.
the Heat, who closed the final chapter of their NBA championship season
when they received their rings opening day in November, the trip to the
White House was an opportunity to pause and savor the 2012-13 season
one last time.
In the midst of a six-game road stretch, Tuesday's
ceremony was a welcome relief following the Heat losses to the New York
Knicks and Brooklyn Nets.
Allen, who made his second trip to the
White House after being part of the 2007-08 championship Boston Celtics,
also organized a team trip to the United States Holocaust Museum.
"It's important. It's a matter of humanity," Allen told the (Fort Lauderdale) Sun-Sentinel. "Any time I've had time in D.C., I've taken my teams to the museum.
"When you see that, it gives you more compassion."
Heat also visited wounded warriors at Walter Reed National Military
Medical Center, a tradition begun by Obama of honoring sports teams for
their efforts to give back to communities, White House officials said.
will pick up its road series against the Wizards on Wednesday before
games at the Philadelphia 76ers, Charlotte Bobcats and Atlanta Hawks.
the Heat defeat the Wizards, they would tie a record that has stood for
53 years. Miami has beaten 22 consecutive divisional opponents, one shy
of Boston's 23 in a row set in 1961.
As the ceremony concluded President Obama wished the team luck on the rest of its season.
line: outstanding athletes, outstanding organization, outstanding team,
but also outstanding members of their community," he said. "We're very
proud to have them back. We wish them great luck for the rest of the
season -- unless they're playing the Bulls."