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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 28, 2002

President Urges Responsibility in Speech Congratulating Lakers
Remarks by the President in Welcome of the NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers
The East Room

      View the President's Remarks

10:10 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Please be seated.  Mr. Commissioner, good to see you, sir.  Thank you for coming.  I appreciate the Buss family members for being here.  Welcome to the East Coast.  I'm so honored that Phil Jackson has come, with players from the mighty LA Lakers championship team.  I want to welcome you all the to White House.  We're thrilled you're here.  This is one way for us to congratulate you for being champs.

I want to thank the members of the California congressional delegation.  I think we've got six members here.  Thank you all for coming.  I know you're as proud of the team as the people of California are.

I also want to thank the Boys and Girls Clubs of Atlantic City in New Jersey, and Maryland for being here.  I'm just as excited as you are for meeting these players.  (Laughter.)  Thanks for coming.

I first want to congratulate Coach Jackson on learning how to win championships for different teams.  He's got to be a pretty remarkable guy to figure out how to win on a consistent basis.  And so, Phil, congratulations for coming back to the White House.

I also want to thank the players.  Being champs on the court means you've got to be champs off the court, as well.  And I know these players understand that every time they do something, some kid is watching.  Every time they say something, some kid is listening.  And I want to thank the players who understand that with victory comes huge responsibility, to encourage people to make the right choices in life.  To me, that's the true sign of a champ.  I also want to thank the LA Lakers for being involved in your community.

People ask me all the time after the attack of 9/11, what can I do to help; how can I participate in the war against terror.  And the answer is, you fight evil with acts of decency and kindness.  You fight evil by doing something good.  You fight evil by teaching a child that somebody loves them.  You fight evil by being an LA Laker that convinces somebody to be a mentor for some child in inner-city Los Angeles who wonders whether there's any love or hope in the world.  That's how you fight evil.  And so I want to thank the organization and the players and the Coach for assuming a position of responsibility in our society.

I was hoping that on his birthday, Mark Madsen would dance for us. (Laughter.)  I actually -- as I said, I was hoping.  (Laughter.)  I'm afraid the Secret Service might react violently if you did.  (Laughter.)

But I'm glad you all are here.  It's an honor to welcome champs to the people's house.  LA Lakers, good luck this year.  Congratulations for two fabulous seasons.  Welcome.  (Applause.)

END           10:14 A.M. EST

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