WASHINGTON, January 15, 2014 (AFP) – President Barack Obama welcomed the NBA champion Miami Heat back to the White House on Tuesday, congratulating them on winning their second title in as many years.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and their teammates attended the ceremony in the White House’s East Room, where Obama – an avid recreational basketball player – hailed their efforts.
“I want to congratulate coach (Erik) Spoelstra for the outstanding work that he does; legendary team president Pat Riley for his outstanding leadership; and all the coaches and players, members of the staff and crew to make a championship season,” Obama said.
“This group has won twice now, but it’s gone to the finals three times.
“And sometimes it feels like they’re still fighting for a little respect. I can relate to that,” the president said, earning a few laughs.
Miami won their second straight NBA title last year to go with a championship in 2006.
Obama said the charitable work the players do year round deserved praise as well.
“So bottom line is: outstanding athletes, outstanding organization, outstanding team but also outstanding members of their community,” Obama said.
Before their White House visit, the players spent time with wounded American service members recovering at a nearby military hospital.
The Heat beat the San Antonio Spurs in a championship series that went the full seven games.