Obama applauded politely for both teams, and slapped high-fives a couple of times with a rather enthusiastic fan who was wearing a T-shirt with the commander-in-chief’s likeness and sitting a couple of rows behind him.
While the president wasn’t exactly leaping out of his seat to pump his fists for the Bulls or argue any calls with the referees, everyone knew which team had his support.
“We all know that he’s from Chicago. That’s the only reason why he’s here tonight. I have no problem with that,” Jamison said. “You can’t convert him overnight. Eventually — he’s here for four or eight years — we can be his second-favorite team.”
The president left his courtside seat with 47.8 seconds left in the first half to make a visit to Wizards owner Abe Pollin’s suite. Obama returned to his seat by the court in the second half.
Thanks to the president’s connection to Chicago, the Bulls spent some time at the White House on this visit to Washington — a perk usually reserved for championship teams — and even were given something of a pep talk by Obama.
Obama, the first president at a Wizards game since Bill Clinton on Jan. 19, 2000, is a tried-and-true fan of the sport who plays pickup games regularly. His brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, is the men’s basketball coach at Oregon State.
Tapscott sounded pleased to finally have a basketball enthusiast at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
“It’s terrific for us that he’ll be the ’First Fan’ of the NBA,” Tapscott said with a wide grin. “If I can get him to help us recruit free agents, that’d be terrific. I better check to see if there are any rules against that.”
Notes: The Bulls spent about three hours visiting the White House on Thursday, including a 15-minute visit with Obama. “He actually knew who a couple of us were. A couple of us — me being one of the couple,” Bulls G Lindsey Hunter said. ... A pregame moment of silence was observed in memory of former Bulls player Norm Van Lier and former Bulls coach Johnny “Red” Kerr, who both died Thursday.
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