WASHINGTON — President Barack
Obama welcomed the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers to the White House
Monday, praising the team for their accomplishments on the basketball
court and their service in the community.
An avid basketball fan himself, Obama
said he gets enormous pleasure from watching excellence on the court —
and nobody exemplified excellence more than the Lakers last year, as
they won their 15th league title, defeating the Orlando Magic.
Obama said he was especially excited
to meet Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who has won 10 championships,
though he didn't hesitate to point out that six of those victories were
with Obama's hometown Chicago Bulls.
"You remember that," Obama joked with former Lakers All-Star Magic Johnson, who was on the losing end of the Bulls 1991 victory.
Obama commended the Lakers players
not only for their athletic achievements, but also their work off the
court. The players held a fitness clinic for Washington-area school
children Monday, and several players are donating money to relief
efforts in Haiti.
The Lakers added to Obama's
collection of sports jerseys, presenting him with a bright yellow
jersey with the president's name stitched on the back.
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