For the second time during his presidency, Barack Obama welcomed in the Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball program to the White House. As is custom with every national champion in myriad major American sports, a tour and quick press conference of congratulations were in order.
So the celebration of Duke’s 2014-15 season went down in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.
“We thought about inviting the Cameron Crazies here, but I didn’t want any blue paint smudging my walls,” Obama joked.
And the jokes were flying. The jovial, 20-minute ceremony included back-and-forth banter between the most powerful man in the world and (arguably) the most powerful man in college basketball.
“We’ve been to your house twice, and you’ve never been to our house,” Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We’ll have to correct that in about a little over a year.”
Obama agreed on a future visit to Cameron Indoor. He also received an invite from Krzyzewski to play in Duke’s annual basketball fantasy camp. Unlike most 35-and-older participants, he won’t have to pay, though. Krzyzewski said he’d be Duke’s guest — on “scholarship.”
“I’ll dominate,” Obama said.
While praising the 2014-15 national champions, Obama name-checked all the Duke stars — referring to former Duke star frosh point guard/Final Four MOP Tyus Jones by his superior moniker, “Tyus Stones” — and even flashing a look at Grayson Allen. Current NBAers Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow were also on hand.
“You’ve been an amazing leader for our country,” Krzyzewski told Obama, which is notable, given Krzyzewski has previously spoken out about some of the President’s tactics re: the global fight against ISIS.
Obama also made mention of Krzyzewski’s career 1,000-win achievement, a threshold he eclipsed at the beginning of last season.
“Somehow he did it without every saying a bad word to a referee,” Obama said.
A smiling Coach K quickly replied, “That’s true, that’s true.”
The festivities came less than 24 hours after Duke received its national championship rings, by the way. They were on display, locked onto players’ and coaches’ knuckles.
“Thanks for sharing that with me,” Krzyzewski told his team on Tuesday. “It was amazing. And to the guys coming back … if you could do that again …”
Hey, it’s the offseason. You’ll never see Krzyzewski more loose and engaging than this.
— Duke M. Basketball (@Duke_MBB) September 8, 2015