Covering Washington politics. From our vantage point. One day a time.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Duke In The House!

NCAA Champs Honored At The White House (Again)

The Duke Blue Devils, 2010 NCAA Champions, Being Honored by President Obama At The White House Yesterday. Photo/CD Brown.

Forget about the third time being the charm. When it comes to the Duke Blue Devils winning NCCA Championships, and getting invited to the White House for their winning efforts, the FOURTH time's the charm.

We had to ask Coach Krzyzewski if the other guy from the other prominent North Carolina, championship winning, institution of higher learning, ever called to congratulate the team during its NCAA championship wins.

"No. Mike never calls", said Krzyzewski smiling.

Mike may not have called, but President Obama certainly did. He called the Blue Devils to not only congratulate them, but to invite them to the White House - even after he had originally picked another team to win the NCAA bracket.

"Now, I know that all of you remember last year, when I filled out my bracket I picked North Carolina to win it all. It wasn’t anything personal. Just trying to win some money", joked the President in a ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House yesterday.

Krzyzewski originally said Obama "should focus more on the economy than brackets", after learning that Obama didn't think Duke had the juice to make it to the Final Four.

Coach 'K' presents President Obama with a gift - the NCAA bracket with Duke prominently displayed front and center. Photo/CD Brown.

Coach 'K' put all that aside and said of the president it was good of him to spend time with him and the team what "with all he has going on today".

To show no harm was done, Coach K and the team presented the president a wooden replica of this year's bracket, complete with Duke right in the center as a 'gentle' reminder of who the winner is.

"Obviously it’s not a smart thing to bet against Coach K. This is a guy who has 868 wins; 12 ACC championships; 11 Final Fours; four NCAA championships; a couple of Olympic gold medals for men’s basketball, including in 2008, when he brought the gold back to where it belongs –- the USA", pointed out President Obama.

The team managed to fit in a tour of the White House, take some pics, and visit with a few veterans in commemoration of this weekend's Memorial Day holiday.

We asked the players if their visit to the White House had inspired any of them to get into politics after graduation.

President Obama's assistant, Reggie Love, played forward for the Duke Blue Devils basketball team, and played on the 2001 team that won the NCAA national championship. He was also captain of the 2005 team.

He received a standing ovation from the crowd that included several Duke alumni, staffers, and political types (Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Ric Shinseki; Congressman K. Butterfield; North Carolina Mayor Bill Bell, Representative David Price - professor at Duke since 1973, and Under Secretary of Energy, Dr. Kristina Johnson - former dean of Duke's Pratt School of Engineering) as he walked to the podium to place the President's remarks at the podium.

"It's possible", said Lance Thomas, Duke's former power forward. "After watching Reggie, it's definitely possible."

It should be noted that Duke's guard, Nolan Smith, is from the Washington, DC area (Upper Marlboro, MD), and said it was good to be back home visiting.

Duke won this year's March Madness contest by defeating Butler, 61-59, in a game that came down to the final shot.

World Cup-bound.  Players pose outside the White House.Photo/CD Brown

It was a day full of sports teams at the White House yesterday. The men's U.S. World Cup soccer team also were honored.

President Bill Clinton, and Vice President Biden joined President Obama in wishing the team good luck as they prepare to participate in this year's World Cup event.

As we reported here, Biden will participate in the opening ceremony.

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