In an interview with ESPN, President Barack Obama reiterated his faith in the Bulls and coach Tom Thibodeau and said he is confident that Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer can be the core of a championship team.
"Deng seems more confident," Obama told ESPN's Bill Simmons. "Boozer is in better shape. Derrick Rose has matured. I'm a little worried about making sure that they give him enough rest with the back spasms that he had. But the Bulls are right in there. They've got a great chance. The Heat are playing better than anybody right now. And when those folks get going on a fast break, it's over.
"But during the playoffs things slow down a little bit, and you got to run a half-court offense, and in that situation, I think the Bulls got a shot."
Obama said he's confident he will host a championship celebration for the Bulls at the White House if he's re-elected.
"Hopefully, it's this year," Rose said. "He promised us he would be at the game in the finals if we made it. It means a lot when you have the President on your side. It takes a lot of hard work to get [to a championship]. It takes dedication, focus and belief."
Obama said he has the NBA's League Pass on his iPad. He watches "SportsCenter" nightly and sometimes watches NBA games while reading his briefings after his family has gone to bed.
"I like the fact that he likes the Bulls," Thibodeau said. "We certainly appreciate the support."
President Nixon sent plays to then Washington Redskins coach George Allen. Thibodeau said he would carefully review any in-bounds plays submitted by Obama.
"We'll welcome anyone's suggestions," Thibodeau said. "That's the beauty of this job. Everybody has some pretty good ideas for you."