The L.A. Lakers Have A Date With Obama Tonight (What Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Wouldn't Give...)
A presidential elbow-rub is apparently one of the perks of winning NBA titles -- and both parties are milking this photo op for all it's worth. Last year, things got super cute after the Lakers showed up bearing an honorary team jersey for Obama. Cuz he's their No. 1 prez!
We're wondering why L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa never got one of those...
The Lakers could really use some first-family charm right now: The team has lost three of its last six games, which will be a hard stumble to overcome.
After a relieving Lakers victory last night, star player Lamar Odom was feeling good enough to josh around with a Los Angeles Times reporter about the possibility of shooting a few hoops with Obama after the gift ceremony. (They'll also host a feel-good kids' workshop at the Washington, D.C. Boys and Girls Club.)
"The President is pretty good, but I do this for a living," he said.
Then Odom got serious.
"We think it's cool that he follows basketball and knows our name on a first-name basis -- and he means it," he said. "After the [championship] ring ceremony, meeting the president is kind of the icing on the cake. We're back in full circle. Hopefully it won't be our last time."
Not everyone is hoping the same -- most thrillingly, the Miami Heat, who will face the Lakers on Christmas Day for the ultimate battle of the douchebags.
Obama's not necessarily on their side, either. He may be stoked on his Lakers jersey, but his heart is with the Chicago Bulls: That's all he could talk about last year. He even made fun of Magic Johnson for the Bulls' championship-winning three-pointer in 1991.
Low blow, man. And this year, he'll have even more fodder, considering the Bulls just whupped L.A. 88-84 on Friday.
There's one Angeleno who is surely wishing he, too, could be playin' basketball with the president, dunkin' on his delegates this morning. Instead, Mayor Villaraigosa is stuck at a "No Labels" conference, aka bipartisan butt-kissing sesh, in nearby New York City -- at which he's pretending to adore Obama's tax-cut concessions and shouting the praises of his own $9 billion subway to the moon on the off-chance that Obama will hear his pleas through the roaring b-ball fans and make a federal donation. (To give you an idea of the No Labels hip factor: Joe Lieberman is there.)
The unoriginally named No Labels is self-described as a "social welfare advocacy organization created to provide a voice for America's vital center, where ideas are judged on their merits." But Villaraigosa won't be fussing with all that merit crap for long: He's back in Beverly Hills tonight for a lavish dinner with the American Civil
Liberties Union of Southern California.