Pistons Visit White House

2004 NBA Champions Honored In Nation's Capitol


The East Room
3:05 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all, please be seated. Gosh, what an honor it is to welcome the mighty Detroit Pistons to the White House. (Applause.) With all the fans here and the players, I guess you'd expect to hear somebody ringing the gong. (Laughter.)

I love to welcome champs to the people's home. I also am glad to welcome members of the Michigan delegation. Senator Levin, thank you for coming. Congressman Kildee. Congressman Levin -- that would be Senator Levin's brother. (Laughter.) Joe Knollenberg is here; thanks for coming, Joe, it's great to see you. Congressman Carolyn Kilpatrick -- that would be the mom of the Mayor. (Laughter.) I'm sure the Mayor was there during the celebration. Candice Miller is with us. Thank you all for coming; I'm honored that you're here to welcome your favorite team.

I'm proud to be on the -- sharing the stage with Coach Larry Brown. The guy must know what he's doing, you know? (Laughter and applause.) He's NCAA champs with the Kansas Jayhawks and now is a professional basketball coach that won the NBA crown. Bill Davidson. I've known Bill Davidson in the past, he is a true gentleman, a great civic leader in the Detroit area. Mr. Davidson, thank you for being here; congratulations on the championship. (Applause.) Oscar Feldman, part owner of the Pistons is with us; thank you for coming, Oscar. Joe Dumars and Bill Laimbeer, both of them came to the White House as champs. (Applause.) As I recall, you came here in '89 and '90 -- I'm aware of who was living here then. (Laughter.) Welcome back.

Congratulations to Joe as the President of Basketball Operations -- Mr. President. And Bill, of course, is the coach of the Shock, who we welcomed here to the Rose Garden last -- two years ago. Tom Wilson, the President of Palace Sports & Entertainment. I want to thank all the players and your families who've come. Welcome. I hope you've gotten a tour of this majestic place. It's a special place to work and live.

I want to congratulate Chauncey Billups for being the NBA Championship Series MVP. (Applause.) So nobody expected you to win -- I know how you feel. (Laughter.) You won because you put a team together. You had people willing to serve something greater than yourself, and it's a wonderful example for kids on playgrounds or people in all walks of life. I guess you kind of just played it the right way. I think that's what the coach says, play it the right way. That's how we should live life. That's what champs do. They set an example.

As you know, a lot of kids look at you. They see you as the big star. They wonder what life should be like, and every time you set an example for a kid to make a right choice in life, you're helping save a life. And I want to thank you for the extent that you do that.

I also appreciate the fact that you've been involved in great causes like teaching children how to read. I can't think of a more important cause than lending a gift of knowledge to a child. I remember the time in Houston, Texas, when a woman walked up to me and she said, reading is the new civil right. I thought that was such a powerful phrase. If you believe that, if you believe you liberate people by teaching them to read, consider yourself liberators as a result of being in the program, "Read to Achieve."

I want to thank you for setting an example for the tsunami relief effort. As you might remember, I tapped two former Presidents, 41 and 42 -- that would be my dad and President Clinton -- to join together to help raise money. I suspect basketball players probably have a little more pull than they do. And so I want to thank you for setting an example of serving people who hurt. In other words, you have taken your great championship status and converted it to good. And that's good.

And so we're here to congratulate you for being the great champs that you are. And by the way, I also want to thank you for providing entertainment for our troops overseas. I don't know if you know this or not, but a lot of people overseas support professional basketball; professional basketball provides great relief from their duty and entertainment, a reminder of what life is like back home, and I suspect a lot of them are Detroit Pistons fans, as well.

So thank you for what you're doing, supporting those who have helped make this world a more peaceful and free place. In other words, welcome to the White House, and congratulations for being called "champs." Thanks for coming. (Applause.)

END 3:10 P.M. EST

Lindsey Hunter Reminisces About First Trip To White House

The Detroit Pistons will be honored at The White House on Monday, January 31 to commemorate their 2004 NBA Championship. For most of the Pistons players, it will mark their first ever trip to the White House, but for guard Lindsey Hunter, this marks his second visit.

Lindsey Hunter was a member of the 2001 NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers when he made his his first visit to the White House.

“The first year I went was the year of September 11th, so it was different, so they really had it secured,” said Hunter. “There were guards standing outside with M-16s. It was a totally different atmosphere. I’m sure this time it won’t be as tense as it was back then, maybe a little more relaxed. It was quite an experience to see all of the history that is in there.”

Hunter was intrigued by the way they ran things once the President of the United States entered the room.

“The most exciting thing that happened was when the President entered the room, was how they shut the entire building down,” explained Hunter. “Nobody moved until he got to his destination, and the music came on. It was like a movie.”

The players will get a chance to meet the President and will be given a guided tour of the White House.

“You walk around and you’re able to touch things and see all of the different rooms. That was quite a sight,” said Hunter. “It is exciting. They have one of his guards walk you around, so he tells you and gives you information on all of the history of the rooms. I think everybody should experience it as least once.”

As for some players and personnel, if you have enjoyed success as some teams do through the years, you may be able to experience it more than once. This will mark the third trip for the Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars. He made the trip to Washington D.C. in 1989 and 1990 as the Pistons were honored for their first two championships.

Palace Sports & Entertainment majority owner William Davison and CEO Tom Wilson are pretty much exclusive guests of the White House due to the recent success of the Pistons, WNBA Detroit Shock and NHL Tampa Bay Lightning. The Detroit Shock visited this past spring and they will soon be making another trip to celebrate the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Stanley Cup title.