President George W. Bush highly praised
the Miami Heat's championship season at a White House ceremony Tuesday but
said he had mixed emotions.
"It is such a joy to welcome the Miami Heat to the White House," Bush
told a packed crowd in the East Room. "It was the Miami Heat's first
championship. I congratulate you on a tremendous achievement. Even though
you beat a Texas team."
"As you know I used to be in pro sports," said Bush, the former owner
of baseball's Texas Rangers. "I never had the pleasure of winning
Miami coach Pat Riley gave Bush a number one Heat
jersey with the president's name on the back along with an autographed ball
"The Heat did something they weren't supposed to do," Bush said. "They
went into the Eastern Conference championship as the underdog. Nobody
thought they could win".
"And then went up against the Mavericks. They're two down and 13 points
behind with seven minutes remaining in the third game. They lose that one,
"They did something no team has done in nearly 30 years, which is win
four straight to become the NBA champs."
Bush dribbled the ball
expecting it to bounce back up but it died on the carpet, eliciting a roar
of laughter from the Heat players.
Bush lauded the Heat's work in the community, citing Alonzo Mourning's
foundation, Dwyane Wade's charitable
work , and O'Neal's part-time job as a police officer in
Wade, the Most Valuable Player of the Heat's triumph over the
Mavericks, said it was "an unbelievable honor" to attend the White House
"You always see teams that go to the White House and you know those are
special teams, championship teams," said Wade.
"To be there today with this group of guys, knowing that we did
something special last year, is just great."