President Obama joked that he could empathize with the two-time NBA champion Miami Heat while celebrating the team's title run during a ceremony Tuesday at the White House.
"Sometimes it feels like they're still fighting for a little respect — I can relate to that," Obama quipped.
But Obama also included the "tattoos" and "mohawk" of Chris "Birdman" Andersen when listing off key contributors to the team, poking fun at the center's head-to-toe ink.
And he implored the team not to pick on point guard Mario Chalmers, after an incident last month in which James angrily confronted him on the Miami bench.
Cracking a smile, Obama told a photographer to take a picture "quick, before one of these guys starts yelling at Mario."
"Sometimes it's just a bad pass guys, it's not Mario's fault," the president said.
Obama also praised the team for its charity efforts, which include singing karaoke in advertisements.
"Just leave Al Green to the pros, people," Obama joked, referencing his own rendition of "Let's Stay Together."
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra presented Obama with a black replica of the NBA Championship trophy that had been marked with the team's roster — and the president's name.
Obama is thought to be close with the team, and he wished them "great luck for the rest of the season" — except when playing his hometown Chicago Bulls.
James and Wade and participated in a White House-sponsored charity game to entertain military service members with the president in 2010. Wade and Bosh attended a Democratic fundraiser with the president later that year.