As part of a league tradition, the Miami Heat will reap the rewards of being a reigning NBA champion as the team readies for a unique opportunity to meet with President Barack Obama at The White House on Monday, as reported by the Associated Press.
Head coach Erik Spoelstra called it “the pinnacle” of things the team has been able to experience together, adding that the players will bring their basketball sneakers on the off-chance that the President requests a scrimmage.
“It’s the pinnacle of the things that we’ve been able to experience together. Thankfully we have the majority of the team back. I think it’s a great experience and a culmination of that year for our organization. [E]verybody will bring their shoes — just in case.”
The President is expected to highlight Miami’s work with the military, as the Heat are scheduled to meet with wounded soldiers in the nation’s capitol when the team flies to Washington after their game against the Boston Celtics on Sunday night.
For some players, this will be a second visit to The White House as a member of the Heat. Dwyane Wade remembers his first trip in 2007, after the Heat won the title in 2006. Wade called it a “special experience” and said it doesn’t get any better than to visit the President as a champion:
“It’s always cool to be able to go. It’s special any time you get invited to the White House, but especially to go as champions, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
During that time, then-President George W. Bush attempted to dribble a ball that had been autographed by the Heat. Not realizing it wasn’t inflated, the ball hit the floor with a thud.
This time around, Spoelstra said he won’t tease President Obama about being a Bulls fan:
“We won’t hold it against him that he’s a Bulls fan.”