President Obama likes Bulls' chances
"(Luol) Deng seems more confident," Obama said in an exclusive interview with Grantland.com's Bill Simmons. "(Carlos) Boozer is in better shape. Derrick Rose has matured. I'm a little worried about making sure that they give him enough rest with the back spasms that he had. But the Bulls, I think, are right in there. I think they've got a great chance.
"The Heat are playing better than anybody right now. And when those folks get going on a fast break, it's over. But during the playoffs things slow down a little bit, and you got to run a half-court offense, and in that situation, I think the Bulls got a shot."
Obama, who is a former Illinois state senator from Chicago, has never been shy about his love for his hometown team. When hosting the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks at the White House in January, Obama said: "It's too bad that next year, it'll be the Chicago Bulls here." Rose said he hopes to hold Obama to his word.
Simmons asked Obama how often he's envisioned welcoming the Bulls to the White House as the NBA champions.
"Every year," he said. "And it hasn't happened yet, but it will happen."
"Somewhere along the line my Bulls are going to come through here," Obama added. "Absolutely."
Obama made sure to point out to Simmons, who is from Boston, how impressed he is with Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who is a former Celtics assistant.
"Now, Doc Rivers is a great coach as well, but for us to have been able to get that guy, he has just done a great job with what we've got," Obama said. "He's an outstanding coach."
Obama has hosted many championship teams to the White House, but he said the best one was the 1985 Chicago Bears, who couldn't do it after they won Super Bowl XX because it coincided with the space shuttle Challenger tragedy.
"And to see these guys -- (Mike) Ditka and all -- the whole team come back," Obama said. "Buddy Ryan came back, and he's really ailing. But to see how much they appreciated it, how much they had wanted that acknowledgment -- it was a lot of fun. And Ditka couldn't have been more gracious. And everybody just had a great time, and we had a whole bunch of Bears fans here. That was probably as good as it gets."