Obama: 'Going up against me' prepared Heat to win championship

Point guard Dwyane Wade riffed off the president's comments, noting the team has "a 10-day contract left" and is looking for a "shooter."

In 2010, Obama invited a "dream team" of top athletes — including the Heat's Wade and Shane Battier — for a pickup basketball game celebrating his 49th birthday.

Heat forward LeBron James said the White House trip was the "Mom, I made it" moment for many of the team's players, who came from small towns and inner cities across the country.

"To be in the White House — I mean, we're in the White House!" James said, to laughter and applause.

The president remarked on each of the players individually, joking about James's dance moves and Wade's sneakers. And he said empathetically that he understood the challenges of fighting for a goal despite fierce criticism and high expectations.

"As LeBron said, 'It's about damn time,' " the president said.

In more serious moments, Obama thanked the team for meeting with wounded soldiers at Walter Reed before their trip to the White House, and heralded players like James and Wade as positive role models.

"They take their roles as fathers seriously," Obama said. "That's a good message to send."