Basketball fan Obama plays host to the Warriors

WASHINGTON • United States President Barack Obama welcomed the reigning National Basketball Association champions Golden State Warriors to the White House on Thursday, joking with superstar Stephen Curry and his league-leading team-mates.

Obama is a big basketball fan and played golf with Curry and his father, former NBA standout Dell Curry, last August while on vacation.

"Steph was using the excuse of Secret Service being intimidating for why he lost the match. That is not the case," Obama said.

"But he will have another opportunity."

Obama said he was disappointed not to see Riley Curry, the young daughter of the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, who charmed the cameras during her father's post-game news conferences during last June's NBA Finals.

"I was hoping that Riley Curry would be here today to share the podium with me, but I guess I'm going to have to get media training some other day," Obama said.

He acknowledged Warriors coach Steve Kerr, whose five NBA titles as a player included three from 1996 to 1998 as a guard alongside Michael Jordan for the Chicago Bulls, Obama's team.

"It's rare to be in the presence of guys from the greatest team in NBA history, so we're pretty lucky today because we've got one of those players in the house," Obama said.

Kerr was on the Bulls' 1995-96 squad that went an NBA-record 72-10 and the following season's team that went a second-best 69-13. Now the Warriors team he coaches is a threat to both marks, with a 45-4 record so far.

Curry will attempt to retain his long-range shooting title at next week's NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto.

The league also announced that Zach LaVine will attempt to become the first repeat champion in the popular slam dunk contest since Nate Robinson did it in 2009 and 2010.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2016, with the headline 'Basketball fan Obama plays host to the Warriors'. Print Edition | Subscribe