President Obama Honors the Los Angeles Lakers

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The President:
Hello, everybody! Audience:
Hello! 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. 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) (The President shaking hands
and taking pictures) (applause)

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