Remarks by the President Honoring the NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers
3:09 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody!
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it is great to be here at THEARC with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington.
Give it up for the World Champion Los Angeles Lakers. (Applause.) I want to congratulate everybody on the team, everybody who works for the organization, and all the fans who cheer them on year after year.
We’ve also got, by the way, one of California’s great members of Congress in the house -- Grace Napolitano is here. Hello, Grace. (Applause.)
Now, I have to say that there is a longstanding tradition of welcoming championship sports teams to the White House. But here’s the thing: These guys have been there so often; they were just there last year because they won the title. And Kobe and Derek have been there so many times now, they could lead tours themselves. The same is true for Coach Jackson.
So I thought we’d change things up a little bit. We teamed up with NBA Cares to come here to THEARC and spend a little time with the unbelievable young people who are here, as well as the terrific staff. And I was just walking around watching these players work with students -- assembling care packages for our wounded warriors, putting together some toiletry kits for the homeless here in Washington, D.C., and trying to keep up with the kids on the “Big Brain Academy Challenge,” which I didn’t even try because it was moving way too fast for me.
But that’s the beauty of service -- anybody can do it. The Lakers have a proud tradition of performing community service in the L.A. community, and I’m glad that they took the time to help us during the holiday season here in Washington, D.C. We celebrate that spirit of service off the court -- because it’s very hard to do what these guys do on the court, but everybody can serve off the court.
Now, on the court, there aren’t too many folks who can do what the Los Angeles Lakers do. This year, they won their second title in a row, and their sixteenth championship overall. That’s one behind the Boston Celtics for the most of all-time. The Boston Celtics, of course, they beat in this year’s finals.
I want to congratulate Coach Phil Jackson on earning his eleventh NBA championship ring. It was his fifth championship with the Lakers -- which I should point out is still one behind the six he won with the Chicago Bulls.
MR. BRYANT: -- not for long.
THE PRESIDENT: Kobe said, not for long, though. (Laughter.) We are still grateful for you, Coach, in Chicago. And it has been a long drought since Phil left Chicago, although I have to say they witnessed in person on Friday that my Bulls are showing some signs of life. (Laughter.)
I want to congratulate Kobe Bryant -- the NBA Finals MVP for the second year in a row. (Applause.) Kobe was there when we organized a little pickup game for my 49th birthday. Pau Gasol and some other NBA players participated; Derek was there. Kobe was sidelined because he had just gotten some treatment on his knee. I was not yet sidelined with my busted lip. But nobody was taking it easy on me because Pau was on my team, so I kept on just passing to him. And now I got to see how everybody else on the Lakers gets so many open looks, if you’ve got Pau Gasol in the middle.
So I just want to congratulate all the L.A. Lakers for being one of the outstanding sports franchises in our country and in our history. I wish all of you guys great luck for the rest of the season.
But especially I just want to thank you for being so generous with your time with these kids. These young people here are working hard. They’re doing well in school. They were really helping me out as I was going through that line packing those care boxes, making sure I didn’t screw up. We are incredibly proud of them.
But every once in a while they need a little encouragement and they need to know that no dream is beyond their reach. And so when they see people like the Los Angeles Lakers who are willing to spend time with them, that sends a message to them that they’re special. And you guys can’t give a better gift than that during the holiday season.
So thank you very much. We’re really proud of you. Congratulations. (Applause.)
END 3:15 P.M. EST