The 2013 NCAA Champions have left the White House & are headed to the Capitol pic.twitter.com/lM6i1AVkzu— Kenny Klein (@KKcards) July 23, 2013
On Tuesday afternoon, the Louisville men's basketball team concluded its championship victory tour of sorts with the customary trip to the White House.
Members and coaches of the 2013 national championship team met with the President of the United States. With a horde of press, friends and family waiting in the East Wing, Louisville marched out and took a group photo. Pitino then came out, flanked by Barack Obama.
Obama congratulated Kentucky senator/University of Louisville alumnus Mitch McConnell, who was in the building. As presidents tend to be at these congratulatory conferences for American championship teams, Obama was in a gregarious mood. Even jocular. He took a couple of good-natured shots at Pitino.
"[Louisville] always played hard, worked together and worked on one singular goal: to bust my bracket," Obama said.
He also referenced Pitino's tattoo, ink he got in April after fulfilling a promise to his team. Obama promised not to make the 60-year-old coach display it in the White House, but then added, "You have something that will stay with you forever: a shirtless picture on the Internet. That will never be erased."
When Pitino got to the microphone a couple of minutes later, he playfully added, "One thing is missing for my players: if Michelle (Obama) was here they would be off their rockers."
Obama also mentioned center Gorgui Dieng, who is originally from Senegal. Obama went to Senegal at the end of June and said the player has earned quite the positive, uplifting reputation overseas.
As usual, Louisville's players remained lighthearted. Here's a photo Dieng sent out prior to the press conference.
Chane is sleeping at the White House. Haha pic.twitter.com/Q73nNCvZxj— Gorgui Dieng (@GorguiDieng) July 23, 2013
After all, this is a team that knows how to party with presidents.
As is custom, the winning team brings the President a gift. Louisville brought along a custom-made, red Louisville Slugger bat and a white Louisville jersey, customized with the President's last name and the No. 1.
"This win made Coach Pitino the first coach to win championships at two different schools. We won't name the other one," referencing Pitino's 1996 title at Kentucky.
The only member of the Cardinals title team who couldn't be at the White House Tuesday: Russ Smith. The Cards senior who is playing in an international basketball tournament in Estonia. And by the way, Louisville got its championship rings on Monday, just in time for the trip to D.C. Here's a shot Peyton Siva passed along via his Instagram account.