On Monday January 25th, the Los Angeles Lakers got to take part of the tradition of the NBA champions to visit The White House, and meet with the president.
“A lot of us never thought we would see this day,” said Jordan Farmar before even attending the event. “I feel very special to be apart of it and to have the chance to share this with my teammates – we all get along and really care about each other, so it’s really meaningful.”
During the presidents nine-minute speech, Obama managed to get frequent laughs from both the audience and the team. The best part of his address came right after he expressed his excitement about being introduced to Phil Jackson, when he mentioned Lakers legend Magic Johnson (standing next to Kobe Bryant) while acknowledging Jackson’s championships.
“I do want to point out that six of them came with the Bulls,” said Obama, a big time Chicago fan. “You remember that, Magic?”
That comment had the audience in tears, especially after Obama looked towards Magic to pantomime Michael Jordan’s right-hand-to-left-hand layup in the 1991 Finals, when Jackson’s Bulls defeated Johnson’s Lakers 4-1.
“It was really a special moment in time that I’m going to always remember that the President of the United States trash-talked Magic Johnson,” said Johnson. “And me restraining myself not to come back at him. He was the only man on earth that ever trash-talked me and I (didn’t) say anything … it was a great moment.”
He then began to talk about, Kobe Bryant.
“Of course I have to acknowledge Kobe Bryant, one of the most competitive players I’ve ever seen,” said Obama. “He has MVP’s under his belt, he’s the youngest player to ever reach 25,000 points in his career, and he’s playing with a broken finger.”
“It was nice that he had done his homework,” said assistant coach Brian Shaw. “He knew a little bit about everybody from Kobe to the coaching staff … I was impressed.”
“Absolutely,” Bryant agreed. “I know that everybody understood the significance and the magnitude of it. It’s great to see that … (President Obama) is someone who I obviously got behind and he’s in charge of the country, so it’s just a special feeling being the first NBA team to come to the White House.”
The President made sure to mention the contributions that Pau Gasol and Jordan Farmar made to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, and thanked the team for putting together a Monday morning community event with fifth graders from a local Washington D.C. school.
The last words Obama offered were:
“I want to thank the entire Lakers organization for your service, for the great joy that you have given the city of Los Angeles and also the incredible competition that your organization has graced the basketball court with for decades now.
“If this season is anything like the last one, I know you have your sights set on the NBA Finals, so we might see you here before long.”
In addition to the visit to The White house, Bryant will get some private time with the president this morning. They are scheduled to have breakfast together.
“I spent time with President Bush as well, but you know President Obama’s knowledge about the game is a little bit more extensive,” Bryant said. “President Bush is more of a baseball guy.”
Source: ESPN LosAngeles, Huffington Post, LA Times, Lakers.com