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.