Photo from http://www.whitehouse.gov
Quite a week for the 2009 NBA Champions, the Los Angeles Lakers. Last Monday, they were honored at the White House by President Obama and some local congressional Lakers fans among them, Jane Harmon, Laura Richardson, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Brad Sherman, and Adam Schiff.
President Obama belatedly congratulated the Lakers on their 15th NBA title — their fourth in the past ten years. Here are some of the president’s remarks.
“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. ”
“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 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.”
The full text of the president’s comments is on the whitehouse.gov website. The day before meeting the president, Sunday, January 24, the Lakers lost a close one to the Toronto Raptors 105-to-106. That White House visit may have helped the Lakers get their basketball groove back.
On Tuesday, January 26, the Lakers played the Washington Wizards and beat them 115-to-103. The Lakers continued their winning ways by taking out the Indiana Pacers 118 -to-96 on Wednesday, January 27. Then yesterday, they whipped the Philadelphia 76ers 99-to-91.
Tomorrow, the Lakers take to the court in Boston to square off against the Celtics.