- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 28, 2009

President Barack Obama did indeed show up for the Washington Wizards‘ game Friday night against the Chicago Bulls, becoming the third sitting president in history to attend a Bullets or Wizards game.

The Wizards and Bulls took the court for the opening tip but then were sent back to the bench because a large crew of cameramen had spilled onto the court on the right baseline corner as they waited for the president to enter. After a three-minute delay, Obama entered from a nearby tunnel to a thunderous standing ovation from the crowd of 18,114 and took his seat on the sideline directly across from the Wizards’ bench. He sat next to 5-year-old D.C. native Nicholas Aiello.

The Wizards and Bulls also joined in the applause. Washington’s Nick Young and JaVale McGee stood on top of their seats on the bench to get a better look at the 44th president of the United States.

Obama, wearing a black collarless shirt and black sport coat, remained in his courtside seat until just before halftime, then returned just after the start of the third quarter.

Obama became the first president to attend a Wizards game since Bill Clinton on Jan. 19, 2000. Jimmy Carter attended when the team was the Bullets.

Before the game, Wizards coach Ed Tapscott told his players to be sure to savor the moment.

“I told the fellas to enjoy the atmosphere,” Tapscott said. “I said: ‘This should be one of the highlights that you might have in your career. Hopefully you’ll chances for other NBA highlights: championships, playoffs, All-Star games, but certainly few people can say they’ve had the experience of playing in front of the president of the United States, but respond to it and be a part of the moment.’ ”

Obama entertained his hometown Bulls at the White House on Thursday and received a No. 44 Chicago jersey from the team.

“He is what he is. He’s going to be what he’s going to be. If he wants to stay with the Bulls, stay with the Bulls,” Wizards center/forward Andray Blatche joked before the game. “But we’ll have to teach him a lesson today. He’s going to try to come here his first day and think the Bulls are going to win. I feel bad, but it’s something that’s got to be done.”

With 4:26 left and the Wizards up 103-86, Obama left for the night as the crowd gave him another standing ovation.