Heat | Visit to White House

Miami Heat excited to visit White House for second year in row

 

The Heat will visit President Barack Obama on Tuesday. ‘It’s a very special day,’ coach Erik Spoelstra said.

 
LeBron James speaks as President Barack Obama listens as he honors the NBA champions Miami Heat basketball team in the East Room at the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. Also pictured is Dwyane Wade, rear left, behind James.
LeBron James speaks as President Barack Obama listens as he honors the NBA champions Miami Heat basketball team in the East Room at the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. Also pictured is Dwyane Wade, rear left, behind James.
Charles Dharapak / AP

bjackson@MiamiHerald.com

If there’s anything that can interrupt the monotony of a regular season that doesn’t carry all that much weight for the Heat, it’s a White House visit.

For the second consecutive January, the Heat will enter President Barack Obama’s residence on Tuesday, a commemoration of its 2013 championship.

“It’s a very special day,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You get to be a kid again. When you have an opportunity to visit the White House and spend some time with the President, when our families are so excited to go, you realize that most people never have this opportunity in their lifetime. It’s a continued celebration for what we accomplished last year.”

Norris Cole captured the sentiment of teammates when he noted: “It’s never going to get old for me.”

Or, as Chris Bosh said of the White House: “It’s a fortress. To be in the most powerful building in the world is pretty cool.”

Tuesday’s visit will be the highlight of an unusual six-game road stretch that began with losses in New York and Brooklyn, included a three-day detour back in South Florida, and resumes Wednesday in Washington before games in Philadelphia, Charlotte and Atlanta.

“Whenever you go to the White House, it’s special. I don’t care how many times,” Dwyane Wade said. “Our president is a very personable guy. He loves the sport that we play.”

For some Heat players, one of the most meaningful moments during last year’s visit was the 30 minutes spent alone with the president, away from the cameras, before the public ceremony.

“He spent 30 seconds to a minute with every one of us, which I thought was an incredible touch,” Spoelstra said. “He has an incredible feel with people. He mentioned one of his favorite players was [Heat assistant coach Bob] McAdoo.”

Wade said that private time with Obama is “a cool moment and you really get to relax and be yourself.”

Unlike some of his teammates, Wade was able to poke his head in the Oval Office during last January’s visit.

“The Oval Office is one of those things that on TV looks huge,” Wade said, “and then when you get in there, you’re like, ‘This is where all that magic goes down?’ ’’

Bosh said that during those few private moments with the president, “you never really get to talk about what you want to talk about. He’s going to ask you something, you [answer]. ... He asked me about my kids [last year] and that was it.”

A White House visit comes with many decisions. For Cole, it’s mulling whether to muster the courage to ask for a picture of himself and the president — just the two of them.

For Beasley, it’s what to wear, a decision he was still considering late last week. “I don’t want to be too over the top,” he said.

Several have had personal exchanges with the president, even before last year’s visit. “We have that Chicago connection, and all the times I have been able to talk to him, that connection comes out,” Wade said.

Obama spoke at Cleveland State when Cole was a student: “He said something about my high top, said, ‘That kid can play.’ 

Beasley met Obama at a campaign event before Beasley’s rookie season. “He shouted out my college stats,” Beasley said. “That was pretty cool.”

Bosh’s goal for this trip? “Go in the Oval Office, see some top secret stuff or something.”

• The Heat said team president Pat Riley, who missed last year’s White House visit because of flu symptoms, is planning to attend Tuesday.

This and that

• Ray Allen has arranged for Heat players to visit the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington.

“It’s important; it’s a matter of humanity,” he said. “Anytime I’ve had time in D.C., I’ve taken my teams to the museum. When you see that, it gives you more compassion.”

• Shane Battier, who has missed five games with a quadriceps injury, returned to practice and expects to play Wednesday. But Mario Chalmers remains limited by a strained Achilles that has sidelined him for three games.

• Having already met President Obama, James was asked if there’s anyone else he would like to meet. “Jennifer Lawrence and Jennifer Aniston — my two Jennifers,” he said of the actresses. “My wife knows about it, too,” he added, smiling. “It’s not a secret.”

• The Heat’s defensive numbers are all down from last season. Miami is allowing 98.2 points, which is ninth-best, compared with 95 (fifth-best) last season.

Teams are shooting 45.9 percent against Miami, which ranks 20th, compared with 44 percent (sixth) last season. And the Heat’s three-point field goal defense has plunged from 11th to 26th.

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