President Barack Obama honored the 2011 WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx at the White House Tuesday. Below are some photos and a transcript of the President’s speech:
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! Hello! Please everybody have a seat, have a seat. Welcome to the White House, and congratulations to the Minnesota Lynx on winning their first-ever WNBA championship. (Applause.)
These women have brought glory back to the Twin Cities. I know there are a lot fans at home who are happy to have a professional title back in Minnesota.
This team has come a long way to get here. Just two years ago, the Lynx had the worst record in the WNBA. (Laughter.) I’m just saying. (Laughter.) But they didn’t let it get them down –- they got to work. GM Roger Griffith is here, and he’ll tell you that it was hard work for him, too.
It helped that the team drafted UConn standout Maya Moore. She is becoming a regular here. I mean, this like the fourth time she’s shown up at the White House. (Laughter.) She just somehow likes to attract hardware. Picked up veterans like Rebekkah Brunson and Lindsay Whalen, and Cheryl Reeve took over as head coach and has done an extraordinary job.
Apparently, that was the recipe to go from worst to first. By the end of the season, Maya was Rookie of the Year, Lindsay led the league in assists, Cheryl was Coach of the Year. The team had the best record in the league. They made their home games the hottest ticket in town. Then, just in case anyone doubted their dominance, they marched through the playoffs, losing only one game and sweeping their final two series. That is one heck of a turnaround.
In the championship series, the Lynx faced a very tough Atlanta Dream, but they were ready. I hear they brought in a bunch of men who played in college to imitate the Dream in practice so they could gain an extra edge. And those were some brave guys, because — (laughter) — I wouldn’t want to take any of these ladies on. I’ve had the pleasure of playing with Maya and she lit everybody up. (Laughter.) It is not fun when she’s raining down jumpers on you.
But, obviously, it worked. And in the finals, the Lynx came back from three consecutive first-half deficits and took home the championship trophy. They won it on the shooting of Seimone Augustus, who averaged nearly 25 points a game, and after leading the scoring charge in the final game, was named — not surprisingly — Finals MVP. And they won it on the heart and grit of Taj McWilliams-Franklin. Mama Taj played the final game on a sprained knee and still managed to secure the paint and pull down four rebounds.
So there’s no question that these are some outstanding basketball players. But they also find the time to raise money for breast cancer research, help local students with their reading. I hear they clean up pretty well for their Cat Walk for a Cure fashion show. (Laughter.)
So this team does it all and they do it in style. (Applause.) And I appreciate the Lynx taking time to stop by today, because they’re in the middle of their season right now. And they’ve picked up right where they left off –- on top of the Western Conference by a wide margin. Coach just told me that they’ve now secured home court advantage throughout the playoffs. With three games to go, best record in the league. They’re leading the league in points, rebounds, assists. So you get the idea — they’re pretty good. And I have a feeling that we might end up seeing them back here before too long.
And finally, I was saying to these folks as I was backstage, as the husband of a tall, good-looking woman — (laughter) — and as the father of two tall, fabulous girls, it is just wonderful to have these young ladies as role models. There’s something about women’s athletics — we know for a fact that when girls are involved in athletics, they do better across the board. They’re more confident. They do better in school. They have less social problems.
We know all the statistics, but what’s also true is that our women athletes just present themselves so well and are such great ambassadors for the game. And as I was pointing out, you don’t see them on Sports Center doing stupid stuff. (Laughter.) They play the game the right way. They compete fiercely, but they’re good — great sportswomen. And so they’re just wonderful examples for my daughters and my niece, and for so many parents I think we all feel really, really great about what the WNBA has accomplished, but what this team in particular has accomplished.