WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is honoring the Miami Heat for winning the 2012 NBA Championship title after falling short just a year before.
Obama says every member "doing their part" is what put the Heat over the top, as he welcomed the team to the White House Monday to celebrate their victory. The Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games in the NBA Finals last June.
The president also recognized the franchise for supporting military service members and said he was proud that many of them including LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade "take their roles as fathers seriously."
The crowd of well-wishers included actress Gabrielle Union, U.N. ambassador Susan Rice and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The Heat last visited the White House after winning in 2006.
TRANSCRIPT OF THE REMARKS: Courtesy: White House
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Everybody please have a seat. Well, today I am honored to welcome a little up-and-coming basketball team -- (laughter) -- to the White House called the world champion Miami Heat. (Applause.)
Now, for many of teams that come here, this is a lot of cameras in one place. It’s a little overwhelming. (Laughter.) But for the Heat, this is what practice looks like. (Laughter.) This is normal. I know this is the first trip for some of these players, but a few of them were here a couple of years ago for a pickup game on my birthday.
Now, I’m not trying to take all the credit, Coach, but I think that it’s clear that going up against me prepared them to take on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. (Laughter.) It sharpened their skills. It gave them the competitive edge that they needed. And I think part of the reason they came back today is they want another shot at the old guy. (Laughter.)
But first, I have to congratulate the Heat on their well-earned title. This team traveled a long road to get to where they are. In 2011, the Heat got all the way to the finals only to come up short. But when you fall, the real test is whether you can ignore the naysayers, pick yourself up and come back stronger. And that’s true in basketball, but it’s also true in life. That’s exactly what these guys did.
Instead of getting down, they got better. Dwayne Wade worked on his core. LeBron learned some post moves from Hakeem. Shane Battier came on board. They became a more complete team. They got to know each other better and trust each other more. And they became more fun to watch.
In Game Four against the Thunder last year, we saw LeBron carried off the floor with cramps, only to come back a few minutes later and hit a dagger of a three-pointer to put the Heat ahead. During Game Six, we saw him pull off one of the greatest performances in basketball playoff history, dropping 45 points -- and he had a scary look in his eye. (Laughter.)
We saw Dwayne Wade, the heart and soul of this team, continue to do whatever it takes to win, including leading the team in blocks. And at the post-game press conferences, he dressed well enough to land himself in GQ magazine. (Laughter.) Show them your kicks here, Dwayne. (Laughter.) If any of you can pull this off -- (laughter) -- other than Dwayne Wade, let me know. We saw Chris Bosh get injured, but get healthy right at the perfect time and do outstanding work throughout the rest of the playoffs.
And it wasn’t just the Big Three. Mike Miller could barely walk. Mike, you look better now. (Laughter.) You looked broke down last year -- (laughter) -- but still hit seven three-pointers in the final game. I don’t know how he did it because he could not walk. He looked like an old man. Mario Chalmers earned himself a nickname from Dwayne Wade that I’m not allowed to repeat. (Laughter.) But he did a great job.
Shane Battier, as always, played impeccable defense, hit big threes. Juwan Howard -- “Grandpa” -- became the first member of the Fab Five to win a ring. And Coach continually set the tone and kept these guys motivated the entire way.
So that team mentality -- with everybody doing their part -- is what finally put the Heat over the top. And it’s especially impressive when you think about everything they’ve had to deal with over the last few years. This team inspired a lot of passions on both sides. And I’m just talking about their dance moves. (Laughter.) We saw that video, LeBron. (Laughter.)
But even though I’m a little disappointed that the Bulls didn’t make it, I do want to congratulate the Heat for a well-earned championship. LeBron said, “It’s about damn time.” And I want to thank them for taking the time this afternoon to spend with wounded warriors at Walter Reed, because you guys are heroes to them but they are heroes to all of us.
And let me just say one last thing about these guys, and I mentioned this as we were coming in. There’s a lot of focus on what happens on the court, but what’s also important is what happens off the court.