Originally uploaded by Jason Rosenberg
I was lucky enough to make it to the White House to see this ceremony. It was more than amazing.
Remarks as given by President Barack Obama:
For Immediate Release
January 25, 2010
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
IN WELCOMING NBA CHAMPION LOS ANGELES LAKERS
2:19 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, hello! How are you? Thank you, everybody.
Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you so much, everybody. Please
have a seat. Welcome to the White House. And congratulations, a little
belatedly, to the Los Angeles Lakers for winning your 15th — 15th —
NBA title, and fourth in the past 10 years.
Before I say a few things about the Lakers, I just want to acknowledge
some wonderful members of Congress and big Lakers fans who are here:
Congresswoman Jane Harman, Congresswoman Laura Richardson, Congressman
Adam Schiff, Congressman Brad Sherman, and Lucille Roybal-Allard.
Please, everybody, give them a big round of applause. (Applause.)
Now, as folks here will tell you, the only thing that is better than
playing basketball — the only thing that’s better than watching
basketball is playing basketball — but I’m 48, and soon to be 49, and
it’s a little harder these days to move around on the court, especially
when you’re playing against kids who are half your age. But I still get
enormous, enormous pleasure from watching great athletes on the court.
And nobody exemplifies excellence in basketball better than the Los
Angeles Lakers last year. (Applause.)
I want to congratulate everybody who helped make this team what it is —
from the assistants to the front office staff, to the trainers and the
ticket-takers, all the fans back in L.A. who bleed purple and gold. You
all should be very proud. That’s you. (Laughter.)
I want to congratulate Jeanie Buss and the rest of the Buss family for
guiding this team so well for the last 30 years. (Applause.)
I’m especially excited to meet Coach Phil Jackson, the Zen Master.
(Laughter.) I’ve been a fan of Coach Jackson’s ever since his days
running the triangle offense in Chicago. I want to congratulate him on
his tenth NBA championship — the most in history. I do want to point
out that six of them came with the Bulls. (Laughter.) I just want to
point that out.
THE PRESIDENT: You remember that, Magic?
MAGIC JOHNSON: Yes, sir. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: — ’90-’91? Remember when — (applause.) You know,
they won the first game and they were feeling cocky. (Laughter.) And
Paxson was hitting all those shots. Anyway, we’re not — that’s not why
we’re here. (Laughter.)
I was hoping that, Coach, you were going to bring some books for
Republicans and Democrats in Congress maybe to get them to start playing
like a team together. (Laughter.) Coach is famous for passing out
books and helping people get the job done.
We are obviously honored to have one of the all-time greats in NBA
history, Magic Johnson. (Applause.) Magic did pretty well during his
time with the Lakers. He wasn’t bad. (Laughter.) And now a new
generation is continuing his legacy. But obviously part of what makes
Magic special wasn’t just how he played on the court, but also just the
infectious enthusiasm about life and what he’s now doing with businesses
and minority communities. He’s just been an outstanding leader in our
country for a long time.
Of course, I’ve got to recognize Kobe Bryant — one of the most
competitive players I’ve ever seen — (applause) — for being named
Finals MVP last year, obviously already MVPs under his belt, the
youngest player ever to reach 25,000 points in his career. And he’s
playing with a broken finger. Now, if I was — if I had a broken finger
I would have trouble getting out of bed. (Laughter.) And he’s still
leading the team day in and day out.
This is a team that never lost its focus last season — from the first
tip-off to the final buzzer. I know that the Lakers have a tradition of
ending each team gathering — whether it’s a practice, or a game, or a
team meeting — by with the chant, “1,2,3, Rings.” As Lamar Odom said,
“We kind of always saw that light.” Everyone was willing to do what it
took to get a little stronger, to play a little harder, and to bring
home that title.
But I think it’s important to note that this team also knows that being
a champ is about more than trophies and rings. It’s about being a
winner off the court as well as on it — and giving back to those who
are less fortunate. The Lakers and the NBA have always been about
serving others — at home and around the world. And that tradition
continued last week, when the NBA and the Players Association, led by
Derek Fisher, pledged to donate $1 million to support relief efforts in
Haiti. (Applause.) Jordan Farmar and Pau Gasol are also donating their
money to the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund. Pau pledged $1,000 for every
point he scored against the Knicks — and I’m glad he dropped 20 —
(laughter) — helping the Lakers to beat New York and changing the lives
of Haitians thousands of miles away.
And earlier today, the team joined with our United We Serve initiative
to hold a fitness clinic for kids from Stanton Elementary School right
here in Washington, D.C. — teaching them about a few moves, but also
how to live healthy and active lives.
So I just want to again thank the entire Lakers organization for your
service, for the great joy that you have given the city of Los Angeles,
but also the incredible competition you’re your organization has graced
the basketball court with for decades now. If this season is anything
like the last one — I know that you guys have your sights on the NBA
finals — so we might see you here before long. But we are very
grateful for your presence here today.
Give them a big round of applause. (Applause.)
Now, one last thing. I was also told that Mr. Brown here intends to win
the dunk contest — (laughter) — so we’ll see how that goes.
END 2:25 P.M. EST