The Miami Heat was welcomed back to the White House by President Barack Obama for a second straight year Tuesday as they celebrated their 2013 NBA championship.
"This group has now won twice, but it's gone to the Finals three times, and sometimes it feels like they're still fighting for a little respect," Obama said. "I can relate to that."
He recounted their accomplishments, including Ray Allen's game-tying 3-pointer in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
“And with five seconds left, Chris Bosh gets an incredible offensive rebound, passes it out to Ray, Ray is backing up, he’s got to jump forward. Hits one of the most iconic shots of all time," Obama said.
The team met with President Obama Tuesday afternoon, and they also visited with wounded warriors from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
"The Heat showed us the kind of heart and determination it takes to be a champion," Obama said. "They also showed what heart means off the court."
It's the third visit for the franchise to the White House, including the 2012 and 2006 championships. They gave him a jersey that read "POTUS," with the number 44. And Coach Erik Spoelstra presented the president with a trophy from the team topped by an signed basketball.
Obama made some jokes during the lighthearted ceremony. He made sure to bring up his hometown Chicago Bulls, saying about the Heat, "We wish them great luck for the rest of the season unless they are playing the Bulls."
The president followed that up with another quick one-liner.
"We should take a picture but we should make it quick before one of these guys start yelling at Mario," Obama said, in reference to how Mario Chalmers is often often tormented by his teammates on the court.
In a nod to politics, Obama said that members of Congress from both parties who are big fans of the Heat were in attendance.
“Because we all know nothing brings people together like the Miami Heat,” Obama said. “Across the NBA, there’s just a unifying sense about the Heat.”
Obama called the Heat shortly after they defeated the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 Finals to congratulate the team and commend LeBron James for being named Finals MVP.
"So bottom line is outstanding athletes, outstanding organization, outstanding team, but also outstanding members of their community," Obama said Tuesday.
After the ceremony, Dwyane Wade talked about the special moment when the president mentioned his hard work during that final Game 7, against the Spurs.
"Dwyane Wade, warrior that he is, played through a pair of injured knees," Obama said.
"Well, I take that as an unbelievable compliment from someone I know who knows the game,” Wade said. “But someone who knows a little bit more about being a warrior, really.”