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President Obama’s budding bromance with basketball star Stephen Curry was on full display Thursday during the Golden State Warriors’ visit to the White House.
The defending National Basketball Association champions were honored with an East Room ceremony for winning their first title in 40 years. And the president couldn't resist some good-natured ribbing against Curry, voted the league’s most valuable player.
Obama mocked Curry’s celebrations during his 51-point performance in the Warriors' victory Wednesday night against the Washington Wizards.
“For those of you who watched the game against the Wizards last night, he was — to use slang — he was clowning,” Obama said, prompting laughter from the players gathered behind him.
The president proceeded to jump in a circle, mimicking Curry’s moves. “He was all jumping up and down,” he said. “Just settle down.”
Obama also took Curry to task for blaming the intimidating presence of Secret Service agents after losing to the president on the golf course.
“That is not the case, but he will get another opportunity,” Obama said.
Curry is arguably the league’s best shooter, but Obama let him know he thinks teammate Klay Thompson’s “jump shot is actually a little prettier.”
Opening the ceremony, he expressed disappointment at the absence of Curry's three-year-old daughter Riley, who became an Internet sensation for her antics during her father's press conferences.
“I was hoping that Riley Curry would be here today to share the podium with me, but I guess I am going to have to get media training some other day," Obama said.
Obama, an avid basketball fan, has saddled up to Curry as his star has risen in the league. Before their golf match on Martha’s Vineyard last summer, the two met last year at the White House.
But the president didn’t make the ceremony all about Curry. He praised the Warriors for their team play during their title run last year, which culminated in a 4-2 series victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.
“I don’t play anymore, but I still know about a little bit about basketball and this is really one of the best we’ve ever seen,” Obama said. “They play as a team the way basketball is supposed to be played. It’s really beautiful to watch.”
This year’s Warriors are off to the best start in league history. But the president was sure to remind the crowd, which included House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the title of best team ever still belongs to his hometown Chicago Bulls.
“It is rare to be in the presence of guys from the greatest team in NBA history. So we’re pretty lucky today because we’ve got one of those players in the house: Steve Kerr from the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls!” Obama joked.
Kerr, the coach of the Warriors, played for that Bulls team, which finished a record-setting 72-10.
The president compared himself to the Warriors’ interim head coach Luke Walton, who stepped in earlier this season when Kerr was recovering from back surgery.
“Unfortunately, the NBA won’t let Luke count those wins as his own, which man, that doesn’t seem fair,” he said.
“You defied the cynics, you accomplished big things, you racked up a great record and you don’t get enough credit,” Obama, said pausing for effect. “I can’t imagine how that feels.”