Lakers visit with President Obama

Published Dec. 13, 2010 1:57 p.m. ET

By Broderick Turner
Los Angeles Times

December 13, 2010

Kobe Bryant has spent time with President Obama several times over the last year. Bryant was even a part of a contingent of NBA players who played a pick-up basketball game with the president last summer.

Still, when the Lakers visited with Obama at a local Boys and Girls Club in the Washington area Monday -- part of a ceremony for winning back-to-back championships -- Bryant still was in awe.

Bryant talked about how "extremely competitive" Obama is. Every one knows how competitive Bryant is, so that's something the two have in common.

"The cool thing about going to the White House is to be able to talk with people that work with him and have been around him and they talk about his resiliency and always having a positive attitude no matter what," Bryant said. "[He says], 'You are going to have setbacks, but we're still going to get to where we need to go. Even though we're going through this, ultimately we'll get there.'  I think that's one of the characteristics that I admire the most about him."

Last year, the Lakers visited the White House after they won the championship. This time, the Lakers visited a Boys and Girls Club along with President Obama in the area as part of NBA Cares.

About 20 kids got to sit with the Lakers, who helped them write letters and put care packages together for wounded servicemen and women at Walter Reed Hospital.

Obama joked that Bryant and Derek Fisher, who have won five NBA titles with the Lakers, have been to the White House so many times after winning a championship that "they give tours themselves. And the same for Coach [Phil] Jackson," who has won 11 NBA titles as a coach.

"On the court, not too many people can do what the Los Angeles Lakers can do," Obama said.

Obama congratulated Jackson on winning his 11th NBA championship, and fifth with the Lakers.

Obama then added that "I should point out that it's still one behind the six [championships] he won the with Chicago Bulls."

Obama is a Chicago sports fan.

"Kobe said not for long," Obama said, laughing.

Obama said it has been a "long drought" since the Bulls last won an NBA championship in 1998, but he did say "as you witnessed on Friday, that my Bulls are showing some signs of life."

The Bulls defeated the Lakers in Chicago Friday night.

"I just want to congratulate all the Lakers for being one of the outstanding sports franchises in our country in our history," Obama said.

Jackson said he had some words for Obama when they met before the ceremony.

"I congratulated him on his latest compromise," Jackson said. "I told him that he's a left-hander and he should know that you have to go right to shoot. But he hit a three-pointer this time."

Jackson was referring to the tax cuts Obama has proposed.