President Obama Honors the Dallas Mavericks

President Obama Honors the Dallas Mavericks


The President:
Welcome to the White House,
and congratulations to the world champion Dallas Mavericks. (applause) Obviously we got some
Texas people here. (cheering) (laughter) This was the
Mavericks’ first title, so I want to start by
recognizing everybody who stuck with the team through good
times and through bad — from Don Carter, the original
owner, to the arena staff, to all the fans back home. We’ve got some members of
Congress who’ve waited a long time for this, as well as my
Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, who happens to be a
former mayor of Dallas. (applause) Of course, none of this would be
possible if it hadn’t been for the shy and retiring owner — (laughter) — of the Dallas Mavericks,
Mark Cuban, so — (applause) Not only did Mark help put
together an outstanding group of players and coaches, he was
also responsible for making this event happen today. And so we are thrilled
to have you guys here. It turns out that
because of the lockout, Dallas wasn’t scheduled to
play in Washington this season. That did not sit well with Mark. (laughter) He knew this team
had worked hard. He wanted them to get all the
perks of a world championship, including a visit
to the White House. It is tough to say
no to Mark Cuban. And so they made a separate
trip, and here we are. And I’m glad it worked out,
because this is a special group. Last season, they called
themselves the “Bad News Bears,” because from the
very beginning, nobody gave them
much of a chance. People said that Jason
Kidd was too old. And I will say that this is the
first time I’ve been with some world champions who
are my contemporaries. (laughter and applause) They said JJ Barea
was too small; that Dirk Nowitzki was too slow. They did say that,
Dirk, I’m sorry. (laughter) That’s what they said —
they said you had a great jump shot, but — (laughter) They said Deshawn
Stevenson was too crazy. (laughter) They said “The Jet” was terrific
but they weren’t sure whether that tattoo was
such a good idea. (laughter) But these players got it done
because they know how good teams win — not just by jumping
higher or running faster, but by finding the open
man, working together, staying mentally tough, being
supportive of each other, playing smarter. And that’s how the Mavericks
took down some of the league’s best teams — including
the Miami Heat, who got a little bit
of attention last year. This was especially sweet for
Dirk and Jason who were around the first time that the
Mavericks and the Heat met in the finals and lost
five years ago. In fact, the Mavericks played
— before the Mavericks played a single game last season, when
Jason got his tattoo, he said, “When you do something
as crazy as I did, you’ve got to back it up.” And he did, by the way, score
27 points to help win the deciding Game Six. (applause) Dirk joined the Mavericks 13
years ago as a skinny kid from Germany with what he describes
as a “goofy” haircut. (laughter) Last year he became the second
European player ever to be named Finals MVP. And it wasn’t easy. He bent a finger so badly
in Game Two that he had to shoot left-handed. In Game Four, he played
through a 101-degree fever. But every time, he came
through when it counted. And I think it’s fair to say
that we have very rarely seen a better playoff run than
Dirk Nowitzki had last year. It was remarkable, so — (applause) So clearly Dirk is a tough guy. Although the most painful thing
may have been his rendition of “We Are the Champions” — (laughter) — during the
victory celebration. That was — (laughter) — you said you worked on that? (laughter) Seriously? Okay. Now, none of these players would
have gotten so far without the rest of the folks on this stage. Obviously Jason Kidd now has the
second most assists and third most steals in NBA history. (applause) It wouldn’t have worked
without an outstanding coach. And Coach Rick Carlisle
has now won a player as — or won a title as a player,
with Larry Bird in the ’80s, has a title as a coach, and then
he just informed me that he had also won — what was it? The Pantoons? What were they called? Coach Carlisle:
The Patroons, the
Albany Patroons. The President:
The Albany Patroons. Many of you did not know that
Rick Carlisle had also won one of those. (laughter and applause) Coach Carlisle:
It’s a minor league. The President:
It’s a minor league team. (laughter) So these players and coaches
will always share a bond that comes with being the best. And it’s a bond they share
with the Dallas community, where they do everything from
setting up scholarships to helping military families
get back on their feet. Today, in fact, they met with
some wounded warriors here at the White House. I want to really thank them
for taking the time to do that. That means so much to people. (applause) So this team really does have a
heart that’s the size of Texas. This was a remarkable
run, a great victory, a great vindication for all
the effort Mark Cuban put into building this team, and for
long-time players like Dirk Nowitzki and long-suffering
fans like all of you. (laughter) And so I just want to give a
heartfelt congratulations to all of you. I told them that it’s too bad
that next year it will be the Chicago Bulls here — (laughter) — but they said I
shouldn’t be so confident. So congratulations, everybody. Give it up for the
Dallas Mavericks. (applause) Dirk, you got something for me? Mr. Nowitzki:
Yes. The President:
That’s it. That’s what I’m talking about. Mr. Nowitzki:
That’s it. I heard you’re a big, big
fan of Michael Jordan. The President:
Thank you so — well, you
know, I was actually — I was 23 before Jordan. Mr. Nowitzki:
Oh, you were? The President:
I was. (laughter) So he got the number
from me, I think. (laughter) He stole it. Mr. Nowitzki:
Yes. I got you. The President:
That’s what happened,
that’s beautiful. So, I think we’re going
to take a picture — are you guys going
to break this down? (camera shutters) (inaudible) (laughter) (inaudible) (camera shutters) (laughter) The President:
All right, everybody. Congratulations. (applause)

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