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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 3, 1997
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                         AT CHICAGO BULLS EVENT
                           The South Portico

11:02 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Please be seated. Just think of me as another injured basketball player. (Laughter.)

Congressman Rush, Congressman Jackson, Mr. Cedrick Dempsey the Executive Director of the NCAA, Richard Lapchick who is with the Center for Sport in Society, to the young athletes who are here with us today who have been recognized for their academic achievements and their personal heroism as well as their achievements in athletics.

We're all delighted to be here with our Secretary of Commerce Bill Daley and half the city of Chicago has come. (Laughter.) Will everybody from Chicago please raise your hand, be recognized, stand up. That's good. (Applause.)

As all of you know, the First Lady is from Chicago, and it's sort of become my adopted big city. And around here, we like it when the Bulls are doing well, which means that no matter what's in the newspaper in Washington every day, I can nearly always find some reason to be happy. (Laughter.) And believe me, some days we need it more than others.

On behalf of all of us here and people around the nation, I want to congratulate Jerry Reinsdorf, Phil Jackson, and the entire team on winning the 1996 championship and on winning four of the last six championships. (Applause.)

The '96 championship was the first one captured at the United Center, and I had that in mind when we picked it for the site of the Democratic National Convention last summer. We wanted the home court advantage -- I think we got it.

Last year, the Bulls had a record of 72 and 10. And I checked this morning, I think it's 63 and 9 now. I'd say that's pretty good. The individual Bulls stars are well-known to America -- all of them, but I'd like to point out that this is a team that plays great defense as well as great offense and a team with a great sense of teamwork -- a team that plays together and works together and tries to win together. It seems to me that that's something that we'd all do well to remember. That's one of the things I like about the city of Chicago -- whenever I go there, I think that it's a city that tends to work because it works together with coherent teams of people and neighborhoods and all walks of life.

So, let me say again, the Chicago Bulls have given America a lot of thrills. They've given Chicago a lot of pride. They've produced perhaps the greatest basketball dynasty ever and perhaps the greatest basketball individual feats ever. But more than anything else, they've given us the sense that when people do things together, a lot more is possible.

Now, I'd like to introduce now Jerry Reinsdorf so we can go on with the rest of the program, and meanwhile I want you to know that in six months I'll be as good as new and available for the next draft. (Laughter.) Thank you. (Applause.)

MR. REINSDORF: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for inviting us to your home. As you alluded to, you were invited to our home last summer and you brought your team, and then a couple of months later, you won the championship. And so we hope that we can follow up our visit to your home with another championship. In fact, we'd kind of like to retire the trophy and have everybody else start playing for something else. (Laughter.)

I have a couple of tokens for you. I'm sure the last thing in the world you need is another watch, but we have one commemorating our four championships with the Bulls logo and the four trophies. (Applause.) And we hope that you will wear this Chicago Bulls jersey when it gets a little cooler here in Washington.

THE PRESIDENT: Think I'll be safe in this in Washington? (Laughter.) Thank you. (Applause.)

MR. REINSDORF: I think you will be safe because I think Chicago Bulls are everybody's team. And at this point, I'd like to bring up a couple of other fellows that are somewhat familiar. Our coach -- the best coach in the NBA -- Phil Jackson and our two co-captains -- (applause) -- two co-captains, Scottie Pippen and Michael something-or-other. (Laughter and applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Look at those shoes.

MR. JACKSON: Mr. President, we brought a jersey along. Seeing you had a great repeat, it happened in Chicago at the convention, we thought we'd bring you a jersey from the Chicago Bulls. (Applause.) Actually, it's Randy Brown's number, so wear it well. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Do I have your permission? (Laughter.)

Thank you.

MR. JACKSON: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: You guys aren't going to speak? You got to say something. Come here, Scottie, say something. (Laughter.) Everybody from Arkansas talks. You have to -- (laughter).

MR. PIPPEN: It's a great honor for me to get to be on these grounds and have this opportunity to speak. I always tease my teammates that me and the President are homeboys. (Laughter.) I ask them to conduct themselves in a great manner anytime they see the President or the First Lady. So it's a great honor, Mr. President, for us to be able to bring the championship, and congratulations to you on your next four years in office.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.)

MR. JORDAN: Well, it's great for me to be here. I think -- I'm very nervous. I've never really had the opportunity to stand with such a prestigious man, and he means a lot to the country. And when Scottie starts to talk about his relationship with his homeboy, I live in Chicago now and Mrs. Clinton is from Chicago, so I think I have more insight to a lot of their decision-making than Scottie. (Laughter.) So I'm happy to say that. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: I want to thank again all the people from Chicago for coming. I want to say how proud -- I can't help but say that all the people that I know, and I know half the town from the little community in southeast Arkansas where Scottie Pippen grew up, are still wildly proud of him. So it's okay for somebody outside Chicago to like that.

And I want to say to Michael Jordan, I like your two-tone shoes. (Laughter.) When I was growing up, all well-bred young southern boys learned to wear two-tone shoes in the springtime -- (laughter) -- and I'm glad you kept up the tradition.

And finally, I'd like to thank the Bulls for being so good to Hillary when she visited them at the United Center recently. And that night, she got Dennis Rodman's jersey. It is now freshly washed and hanging in the White House in a place of honor. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 11:09 A.M. EST