Lakers get ready for a visit with the president
The Lakers win a championship. The Lakers have a victory parade. The Lakers visit President Obama the next season when they cruise through Washington.
They met him at the White House last season and they are scheduled to see Obama again Monday at a Boys & Girls Club in the city, where they will be conducting a clinic with elementary-school children and perhaps playing some light one-on-one with the president.
Kobe Bryant said he “absolutely” is looking forward to it.
“It’s a huge honor to go back every year,” he said. “It’s special.”
In January, the Lakers absorbed some playful zinging as they met with Obama in the East Room of the White House.
Obama started by congratulating Coach Phil Jackson on winning another championship before reminding him that “six of them came with the Bulls.”
The former Illinois senator, an avowed fan of Chicago’s NBA team, also ribbed Lakers legend Magic Johnson, who was present at the meet-and-greet.
“You remember that, Magic,” he said, mimicking Michael Jordan’s famous change-hands-in-the-air layup from the 1991 NBA Finals, won by Chicago over the Lakers (and Johnson).
Obama did not zing Bryant that day, calling him “one of the most competitive players I’ve ever seen.”
On Sunday, after the Lakers held off the New Jersey Nets, 99-92, Lamar Odom chuckled when asked about possibly playing Obama one-on-one.
“The President is pretty good, but I do this for a living,” he said.
Then Odom got serious.
“We think it's cool that he follows basketball and knows our name on a first-name basis — and he means it,” he said. “After the [championship] ring ceremony, meeting the president is kind of the icing on the cake. We’re back in full circle. Hopefully it won’t be our last time.”
The Lakers play the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.
--Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner
Photo: President Barack Obama shakes hands with members of the Oregon State men's basketball team after they defeated Howard on Nov. 27. Credit: Cliff Owen / Associated Press