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Public Papers - 1991

Remarks on Greeting the 1991 National Basketball Association Champion Chicago Bulls


Thank you all for coming. I would like to welcome all of you. Sam Skinner, our Secretary of Transportation, came here to gloat. He bored us all to death about these guys for -- ever since last winter. And it's nice to see him here. Ed Derwinski, our Secretary of Veterans Affairs, come to cheer his home team.

I'd also like to express my condolences here today to Jim Edgar, the Governor of the State, whose mother died last week. Our thoughts go out to him. I know he'd be here if it weren't for that.

I also want to welcome so many Members of the Illinois Congressional delegation. Commissioner Stern is with us; Bulls, owner, and old friend of mine, Jerry Reinsdorf, it's great to have them all here.

We were out now just watching some awesome shooting on our basketball court down here that I wish we could have shared with everybody. But it was spectacular; really good.

We're also pleased to have with us -- and I want to get them to stand up, if we can -- representatives of the Anacostia Youth Basketball League, and then 24 players from a dozen Washington, DC high school teams with us. Will you guys all stand up so we can at least see where you are? Welcome.

Finally, we're delighted to have with us David Mercer, the national executive director of the YMCA; Barbara Roper, the chairperson of the YMCA national board. In the 100th anniversary of basketball, I think we all do owe a special vote of thanks to the Y and what they've meant to so many kids around this country.

I know I'm no Ray Clay, but I'll try to give the Bulls a hearty welcome as well. We're here because the Chicago Bulls answered all their critics last year, compiling the best regular-season record in their history and then crushing all the opposition on the way to their first-ever National Basketball Association Championship.

If some Hollywood scriptwriter had come up with a plan, tried to submit a script on this last year, movie producers would have tossed it away -- too improbable, too many pieces of history and fortune. Last year the franchise celebrated its 25th anniversary. The Bulls sold out every home game and ran their streak of sellouts at the stadium to 190 games.

Now we have our first Rose Garden sellout. [Laughter] Suddenly, everyone in the entire administration claims to have come from Chicago. [Laughter]

The team won its 1,000th game last season, played its 1,000th home game and welcomed its 10 millionth fam. The team enjoyed its first 60-plus win season, ran off the longest home winning streak in its history; set records for the best defensive quarter ever and the best offensive quarter. And on June 12th -- my birthday, I might add -- the Bulls won the world championship. Not bad for a team that the experts said would lose to the Pistons and then to the Lakers. Not bad at all.

Former Soviet Olympic coach Alexander Gomelsky, he once said, ``It's an axiom that good players without a good coach make a mediocre team.'' Well, no one who has seen Phil Jackson prowl the sidelines, who has seen that going on, nobody can argue against his skills as a coach. And what's even more amazing is the fact that sports-writers actually call him a nice guy. I didn't think they liked anybody, at least before they retired. But that's the way it is.

At any rate, Phil, who, I must mention, as New York Knick once roomed wioth Bill Bradley, Senator Bill Bradley. I want to congratulate him, his excellent staff, and everybody connected with his winning ball club.

One key: You made great use of the Bulls' talent. Just look down the roster, and everyone contributed to the success of the team. Let me just click them off: B.J. Armstrong, Bill Cartwright, Horace Grant, Craig Hodges, Dennis Hopson, Michael Jordan, Stacey King, Cliff Levingston, John Paxson, Will Perdue, Scottie Pippen and Scott Williams. And you'll find each name in the box scores and we'll see a lot of them in the Hall of Fame

Now, everyone here certainly, and many around the country, know exactly what you all did on the court last year. But I want to just say that the Bulls also perform spectacular feats after the 24-second clock has expired and the crew has turned off the lights at the stadium.

John Paxson, whose long-range bombs destroyed the Lakers during the playoffs, couldn't be here today because he's committed himself to hosting a drug-free assembly as part of Hugs Not Drugs program that he's so interested in.

Horace Grant works with Youth for Christ, stressing the importance of positive lifestyle, as well as getting good position on the offensive boards.

And Cliff Levingston hosts an annual Charity Basketball Classic for Multiple Sclerosis.

Bill Cartwright did that great ad for the National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse and helps out the Little City Foundation, a home for the retarded.

And B.J. Armstrong stresses recycling, not littering. And, of course, he likes to pick up stray basketballs, usually from Isiah Thomas and Magic. [Laughter]

Michael Jordan performs a host of good works, with a series of charities and through his foundation.

The CharitaBulls also do a great job of serving youth in Chicago's embattled neighborhoods. And in sum, the people on this team serve their communities.

And I spoke to students across the Nation today from an 8th-grade class out here. And it's worth pointing out that the Bulls also contribute to this Nation's educational efforts. Everyone on the team participates in Stay-In-School assemblies. And you stress the importance of getting an education. And you also illustrate the joys of physical fitness, something that this Administration has encouraged under the kinder, gentler leadership of Arnold Schwarzenegger -- [laughter] -- who, incidentally, is doing a good job as head of our Fitness Council -- been to 27 States now, I think, and going to all of them.

You guys thought I'd talk just about basketball, but it is tough to limit yourself to sports when an entire team sets this kind of selfless example for the rest of our society.

I'm pleased to have you all here. We've waited months for this event, and I can tell you, as far as I'm concerned, all of you were worth the wait.

So, David Stern and Jerry Reinsdorf, and players and officials for the Bulls, thank you all for joining us. Thank all of you. And may I encourage every one of the kids from Anacostia and elsewhere with us out in this audience to get going in that school, do your best. And some day I expect, confidently, many of you will be standing right here.

Thanks for joining us and thanks to making fans out of the White House staff, who is always looking for a good excuse to get out of work -- [laughter] -- but nevertheless this one is one in which I'm very happy and proud to join them. And thanks for what you've done to stimulate the best in sports in the United States of America. God bless you all. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 2:33 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Secretary of Transportation Samuel Skinner; Secretary of Veterans Affairs Edward Derwinski; Governor Jim Edgar of Illinois; David Stern, commissioner of the National Basketball Association; Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago Bulls; David Mercer, national executive director of the YMCA; Barbara Roper, chairperson of the YMCA national board; Ray Clay, game announcer for the Chicago Bulls; Alexander Gomelsky, former coach of the Soviet Olympic basketball team; Phil Jackson, coach of the Chicago Bulls; Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey; members of the Chicago Bulls; and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

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