President Obama honored the 2012 NBA championship Heat with a ceremony at the White House. Obama, a huge basketball fan and assistant coach of his daughters team, praised the Heat for their successful year and kicked it with Lebron James and Dwyane Wade like old friends.
During one exchange with the president, James asked if he was supposed to speak.
“Hey,” Obama said, “it’s your world, man.”
James stepped to the microphone behind the Presidential Seal and spoke poignantly of how humbled he was to be in the White House. “We’re kids from Chicago and Dallas, Texas, and Michigan and Ohio,” James said.
Then from the back, where the rest of the team was standing on risers, Mike Miller blurted “South Dakota.”
The East Room, filled with about 500 people, burst into laughter.
“And South Dakota,” James said. “And Miami. And we’re in the White House right now.”
Even for one of the most recognizable and popular athletes on the planet, the trip to the White House was a surreal experience.
James closed by saying, “Mama, I made it.”
During his remarks, Obama called James’ effort in Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference finals “one of the greatest performances in basketball playoff history, dropping 45 points.”
The president then added that James “had a scary look in his eye.” Obama then named Wade “the heart and soul of this team” and noted that Wade led the Heat in blocks in the 2012 playoffs.
“And in the postgame press conferences,” Obama said, “he dressed well enough to land himself in GQ magazine….Show them your kicks here, Dwyane….If any of you can pull this off, other than Dwyane Wade, let me know.” True to his humorous form, the entire press room burst into laughter during his remarks.
Obama gave Chris Bosh credit for returning from injury during the playoffs to play an important role.
The president personally thanked Wade and James for their work in the community and dedication to their families. Obama also thanked James for his role during the summer on the gold medal-winning Olympic basketball team.
For his birthday in 2010, Obama invited Wade and James, along with other basketball stars, to Washington for some pick-up games. The president reminisced with James and Wade about the games and reminded Wade that their team only won one game.
“We just shared a lot of moments, a lot of laughs,” Wade said. “It was just cool and fun to kind of have that rapport.”
More than anything, the Heat’s players and coaches felt like eighth-graders visiting Washington during a private tour of the White House. Throughout the day, players tweeted constantly about their personal experiences.
“A kid with a dream from Akron Ohio,” James tweeted, including a picture of himself and Obama in the message. “Now chopping it up with the Prez. Life is Good.”