Wednesday, January 23, 2013 8:36 pm
NBA champion Miami Heat to visit Obama on Monday
By TIM REYNOLDSAP Basketball Writer
After all, President Barack Obama does enjoy some pickup games.
"Everybody will bring their shoes - just in case," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
The basketball-fan-in-chief will be providing his personal congratulations to the Heat on Monday, when the team picks up one of the traditional perks of winning a championship. Miami will fly to Washington after playing in Boston on Sunday night, then remain in the city for parts of two days before heading back north for a game in Brooklyn on Wednesday night.
"I've never been to the White House," Heat forward Mike Miller said. "It'll definitely be an interesting experience that I've always wanted to do."
The White House says Obama also will recognize the franchise's support of military members. The Heat will meet with wounded soldiers during their trip to Washington.
Honoring soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan has been a pregame tradition at Heat home games for several years, part of team president Pat Riley's program called "Home Strong."
"It's the pinnacle of the things that we've been able to experience together," Spoelstra said of the White House visit. "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."
When the Heat last visited the White House after winning the 2006 title, then-President George W. Bush attempted to dribble a ball that Heat players had signed. Problem was, the ball wasn't exactly inflated - and fell to the floor with a thud.
"It's always cool to be able to go," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. "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."
Several members of the Heat organization, including Wade and LeBron James, openly voiced support for Obama's re-election campaign last year.
Politics aside, though, there is one policy where the opinions of the Heat and Obama - who supports Chicago teams - differ.
"We won't hold it against him that he's a Bulls fan," Spoelstra said.