The Celtics invaded the White house today and presented President Bush with a signed basketball and a Celtics jersey. They gave him #43, which is fellow Texan Kendrick Perkins' number, in reference to Bush being the 43rd president.
Bush saluted the Celtics for bringing the Pride back to Boston and Paul Pierce for leading his team to the championship in spite of the knee injury. After the ceremony, Pierce said meeting the president was more nerve-wracking than the NBA finals.
Here are some of the highlights:
The president said he got caught up in the spirit of unity that helped carry the franchise to the championship. "I appreciate very much the use of the word 'Ubuntu,'" Bush said during his often humorous speech. "I don't know if you know what that's talking about here. Probably most people outside of Boston don't. It is an African word for unity that the [Celtics] declared when they broke from the huddle. I've been looking forward to saying that with a Texas accent: "U-bun-tu . . . yeah," Bush said to laughter and applause
He noted that Celtics ownership, along with general manager Danny Ainge, did an outstanding job constructing the roster, particularly by acquiring longtime stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, though he joked about their veteran status. "In the offseason, [Ainge] figured out the need to bring in some new blood -- or maybe some old new blood." Turning to Garnett behind him, Bush said with a laugh: "Well, old-er new blood.
In the meeting, the team said it would send a $100,000 check to the Red Cross to help victims of Hurricane Ike. Celtics fans, a few wearing Red Sox caps and many, like Vermont Sen. Pat Leahy, snapping photos with their cameras, packed the East Room as the president honored the NBA champions. Most of the Celtics team participated in a tour of the White House and in the presentation. Sam Cassell, Eddie House, and James Posey, who is now with the Hornets, were missing because of personal reasons.