Dallas Mavericks: President Barack Obama
The Dallas Mavericks swingman is hosting a $30,000-a-plate campaign fundraiser for President Barack Obama at his palatial Central Florida home.
"Hey, I didn't make the prices," Carter joked. "Believe me."
Carter met the president this summer at an event in Orlando. They hit it off and Carter visited with Obama's team in Chicago during the long offseason. He became a lead organizer for the Obama Classic, an campaign fundraising exhibition basketball game that was drawing some of the NBA's biggest past and current stars to play in Washington D.C.
That event scheduled for December ultimately was postponed because the NBA settled its labor dispute, but the White House didn't forget about Carter.
"I got a phone call from somebody from his office saying that he wanted to do something All-Star weekend, like have a dinner at my house and I was like, 'OK,'" Carter said, cracking a wide grin. "I said fine with me. It's cool, I'm excited about it."
Carter said he hasn't seen the official guest list but that it's grown from about 40 people to 70.
An eight-time All-Star, Carter played with the Orlando Magic for about a season and a half before moving onto the Phoenix Suns for the final 51 games last season. The Mavs signed him to a three-year contract in December and he's been a solid fit, averaging 10.9 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 24.5 minutes a game. His 44.0-percent shooting from 3-point range is best on the team.
At 35, Carter's All-Star days are done. But, he's more than happy to take on this All-Star assignment for a basketball-loving president.
"It's a good cause. For as much as he's criticized I think he's done a great job," Carter said. "That's a pressure situation to be in. It's just an honor to even be asked among all the people in the world to ask. Even just in the Orlando area there's a lot of prominent people who live there. I was asked and I was more than honored."
President Barack Obama lauded the Dallas Mavericks for their special brand of championship teamwork a season ago and he pointed out attributes of several players.
But, he saved top recognition for NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki -- even if the president had a little trouble pronouncing the 7-foot German's last name.
"Dirk joined the Mavericks 13 years ago as a skinny kid from Germany with what he describes as a goofy haircut," Obama said. "Last year, he became the second European player ever to be named Finals MVP, and it wasn’t easy. He bent a finger so badly in Game 2 that he had to shoot left-handed. In Game 4, he played through a 101-degree fever, but every time he came through when it counted. I think it’s fair to say that we have very rarely seen a better playoff run than Dirk Nowitzki had last year. It was remarkable.
"So, clearly Dirk is a tough guy, although the most painful thing may have been his rendition of “We are the Champions” during the celebration."
Dirk could then be heard saying that he had worked on it.
"You said you worked on that?" Obama siad, turning toward Dirk. "Seriously? OK."
The run was remarkable. Nowitzki averaged 27.7 points and 8.1 rebounds, both higher averages than his regular season numbers. Sure, some of Obama's facts were a tad off. That finger Nowitzki bent back so badly was a torn a ligament in his left middle finger in Game 1, yet he still managed to win Game 2 with a beautiful drive and left-handed layup in the waning moments. And Nowitzki did play through a 101-degree fever and sinus infection in Game 4, which he also won with a driving layup with 14.4 seconds to play.
As for being the second European player to be named NBA Finals MVP, the Spurs' Tony Parker was the first in 2007, also beating LeBron James when he played for Cleveland.
To end the ceremony, Dirk presented Obama with a No. 23 Mavs jersey. With Obama hailing from Chicago, the Michael Jordan connection was obvious, and Obama told Nowitzki: "I was 23 before Jordan."
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