NEW YORK—Ray Allen may as well take up residence.
Next Tuesday afternoon, the Miami Heat guard will be at the White House to again spend some time with a commander-in-chief, as part of the Heat delegation honored for winning the 2013 championship.
"Up to this point, I've met three sitting Presidents," Allen said.
Even for a guy known for his 3-pointers, that's a remarkable triple.
While a member of the Milwaukee Bucks, who were and still are owned by former Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl, Allen and his then-teammates got an invitation to Bill Clinton's Oval Office on a day off in Washington. Then, after winning a championship with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in 2008, Allen was behind President George W. Bush as Bush celebrated the Boston Celtics' "Ubuntu."
Then, last January, he was in the East Room audience along with Rashard Lewis and the newly signed Chris Andersen, watching President Obama honor the 2012 NBA champions, laughing as LeBron James shouted, "Mama, I made it!"
This time, Allen, Lewis and Andersen will all be honored on the stage with nine teammates who were part of last January's ceremony, while 2013-14 newcomers Roger Mason Jr., Greg Oden and Michael Beasley watch from the audience; Beasley has admitted he's stressed about what suit to wear.
"Last year, my wife didn't come with me, so this year, she's there," Lewis said. "So she's most definitely looking forward to it, as well as me. It feels much more satisfying being a part of a team coming off winning a championship instead of just coming to a team, and not (being part) of winning it."
Andersen doesn't expect this to match the excitement of the championship itself.
Nor does he expect President Obama to tell any Birdman jokes; though, based on last January, Andersen may be wrong about that. Obama seemed to know every inside detail about the 2011-12 champions, from Mike Miller's broken body to LeBron James' post work with Hakeem Olajuwon to Dwyane Wade's wardrobe to Mario Chalmers' unprintable nickname.
"If he does, hopefully I'll have a quick rebuttal," Andersen said, smiling.
Allen has had some time to think about what he might say to Obama in this setting. He had hoped to receive this honor from the former Illinois Senator in January 2010, but the Celtics fell to the Lakers in seven games in the 2009 NBA Finals.
"It's always a tremendous honor to be able to go there, regardless of who is in office," Allen said. "It always reminds me of Forrest Gump. He taught me a lesson because he was such a simple person, but he did so much in his life. And he just kept his nose down, and just kept running, kept moving forward. And that's a lesson for all of this ... When you look back at your life, you look at it, and for some of us, it might seem like a movie, because of all the great things that you did. And being able to go to the White House, it almost puts you in that idea, in that realm of thinking. Like, wow, in my life, I was able to visit the White House this many times."
And you never know what will happen there.
"One of the funniest things that I've seen, when we went in '09, Bush came walking by, and the only thing he could say was, 'Where's Big Baby at?'" Allen said. "And Glen Davis is like, 'the president knows who I am?'"
That's because he was, as he told Davis, "an LSU man."
"Glen got such a big kick out of it," Allen said. "And I thought it was just awesome. Because here you've got the Big Three of us on the team (with Pierce and Kevin Garnett), and Big Baby, he's a rookie then, and he's being recognized by the president of the United States of America. So, in a small way, it lets you realize how vast of a reach we cover. You think only a certain group of people are watching, but at any given moment, everybody in this country at some point will walk by a TV and see one of our faces and know us, recognize our faces or whatever. And the president of the United States is no different. If anything, he knows all of us and everything we do, because it's his country, and he's got to watch and pay attention to everything."
Certainly, Obama saw what Allen did with 5.2 seconds left in Game 6 against San Antonio.
Certainly, that shot—which saved the 2013 NBA Finals—will get a mention from the president on Tuesday as a prime example of preparation and resilience, perhaps referenced similarly to how Pat Riley did at the University of Miami convocation earlier this month.
But Allen might be focused on other things, even when the attention's on him.
For instance, this is what he remembers from one prior Pennsylvania Avenue visit:
"We go into the White House and we see the president's dog running around randomly. It's like, that's the First Dog. I've seen that dog on TV. Go grab it. Take it with us."
Instead, he simply settled for more memories.
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