The White House press briefing took a short detour from the economy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Friday when reporters asked press secretary Josh Earnest about the most-pressing development of the day: The return of LeBron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
James' decision, delivered through a first-person essay that appeared on Sports Illustrated’s website, ended more than 11 days of intense speculation as to whether the NBA’s top superstar would stick with the Miami Heat or return to his home state and the team where he started the first seven years of his career.
So how did President Barack Obama, an avid sports fan, and of the NBA in particular, react to the news?
While Earnest said he didn’t personally speak to the president shortly after James’ decision became known, he said Obama “is a big fan of LeBron’s” and that the former Miami Heat star sent “a pretty powerful statement” by deciding to return home with the desire to bring a championship to a city that hasn’t experienced one in any major sport for 49 years and counting.
“The president is a fan of somebody that has demonstrated such tremendous skill and athleticism on the court and the president enjoys watching him play,” Earnest said. “The fact that he’s made this decision I think is a testament to the kind of values that he has incorporated into his life and that he says he’s interested in instilling in his children. So I think it’s a pretty powerful statement about the value of a place that you consider home.”