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The Milwaukee Bucks team and their staff, all dressed in formal attire, walked down the White House steps at the South law at about 3:29 p.m. to a warm applause of those attending the event. Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff was seated in the front row.
President Biden entered a couple minutes later from the ground passage entrance next to the Rose Garden accompanied by team co-owner Marc Lasry and player Giannis Antetokounmpo.
In his speech under a November sun, so strong that at one point Biden had to put on his aviator sunglasses, he congratulated the team for their win and praised them for being unified: “That’s who we are as a nation.”
“To all the players, that’s what you represent for so many people — pride and decency,” Biden said. “You represented yourself and your families your organizations and a great American city by staying true to who you are.”
Biden gave a tribute to Milwaukee Bucks player Donte DiVincenzo who grew up in Newark, Delaware, and was the 2015 Delaware High School Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
Biden also spoke about Giannis Antetokounmpo, a two-time NBA MVP, who helped lead the Bucks to the championship.
“What makes it even more special is you won the title with your brother, who was here today and you joined another brother already with a ring. What a hell of a family. I tell you what, I think you won the gene pool,” Biden said.
The president also gave a shout out to “dear friends” Ted and Mary Kellner, philanthropists, “who are both responsible for my being here.”
He said Kellner and others helped finance the end of his 1972 Senate campaign when he was running out of money to keep ads on their air. “I’m indebted to them now.”
Team co-owner Lasry also spoke, saying he hopes the team will come back to the White House for the next four years. The team presented the president with a green Bucks jersey that said “Biden.”
The band played a version “We are the Champions” as the team took a photo with POTUS.
Giannis Antetokounmpo spoke about his very own American dream and said that by “believing in your dreams, you can accomplish great things in life.”
At end of Bucks event, Biden responded to a shouted question about momentum for Build Back Better.
“It’s going to be a tough fight. It ain’t over yet, as the expression goes, but I feel good, and I think people are beginning to realize it’s important to get it done.”
Asked if there’s any lessons from what he just went through with BIF: “None I didn’t already know.”