President Barack Obama stands with Miami Heat players after receiving a No. 44 jersey from them at the White House.
By Eddie Ameh,
(AXcess News) Washington - President Barack Obama honored the Miami Heat basketball team on Monday at the White House, praising their resilience and calling their 2012 title "well-deserved."
Obama said the team traveled a long road to success. In 2011, the team made it to the NBA finals, only to come up short against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 6 of the series
"But when you fall, the real test is whether you can ignore the naysayers, pick yourself up, and come back stronger," Obama said. "And that's true in basketball, but it's also true in life. That's exactly what these guys did."
The Miami Heat put the 2011 defeat behind them, beating Oklahoma City Thunder to become champions in 2012. The team included the "big three" - Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Obama said it wasn't just the big three responsible for the Heat's success, citing team effort.
"So that team mentality with everybody doing their part is what finally put the Heat over the top," he said.
Click on photo to enlarge or download: Lebron James presents an autographed basketball to President Barack Obama.Obama praised members of the team for maintaining fatherly roles.
"And one of the things I'm proudest of is that they take their roles as fathers seriously," Obama said. "And for all the young out there who are looking up to them all the time, for them to see somebody who cares about their kids, and is there for them day in and day out, that's a good message to send."
Erik Spoelstra, head coach of the Miami Heat, said the team is happy, humbled and honored to be at the White House.
"We actually hope that this team serves as an inspiration to the nation of what a group can do when you come together and sacrifice your egos for a greater goal," he said.
James presented a basketball autographed by members of the team to the president, while Wade gave him a No. 44 Miami Heat jersey.