CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue’s trip to the White House on Thursday is 14 years in the making.
Lue won back-to-back championships as a player with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000 and 2001, but failed to make it to the home of the president of the United States back then.
According to a list provided to ESPN by league spokesman Tim Frank, the Lakers simply didn’t make a trip to the White House following their win over the Indiana Pacers. A Lakers spokesman told ESPN he could not recall the team’s reasoning. Perhaps it was because then-Lakers coach Phil Jackson, with seven titles at that point, had simply grown bored of the process.
Nevertheless, following the Lakers’ win over the Philadelphia 76ers, there was a White House visit planned during the 2001-02 season. However, Lue was a member of the Washington Wizards by then, signing as a free agent in the offseason.
When the Lakers came to D.C. in January 2002 for their visit with President George W. Bush, Lue was extended an invite to tag along with his old team and relish in their shared accomplishment -- a series that put him on the map for his battles with Sixers star Allen Iverson. Lue turned the Lakers down, and it’s something he regrets to this day.
“As a young guy [I was] not really respecting what it was and what it meant,” Lue said this week. “We won our second championship and I was, what, 22 and I was playing for the Wizards and they came in town, they invited me to go with the Lakers. I just didn’t go. It was stupid.
“But I mean, as young guy, you just take things for granted. You don’t really understand those opportunities and what that means. Now I’m happy with the fact that  years later I’m able to have an opportunity to go again. So I’m going to take full advantage of it.”
Much like Lue was asked to rejoin his old team for the day, the Cavs invited swingman Dahntay Jones -- who signed with Cleveland on the last day of last season and made spot contributions throughout the playoffs -- to rejoin them, even though he was released during training camp. He accepted. However, the other players who were on the roster for the Cavs’ epic comeback against the Golden State Warriors but are no longer with the team -- Matthew Dellavedova, Timofey Mozgov, Mo Williams and Sasha Kaun -- will not be present.
Each of the Cavs will be allowed a plus-one. Lue will bring his mother along with him to meet President Barack Obama.
"Having our first black president was a big thing for me and for my family and I know for a lot of others," Lue said. "I know having a chance for these guys to see a black president in office is a big thing. It's a big deal. So, that's one of the reasons why I wanted it to be while he was still in office because you never know if it will ever happen again."
It will be a busy day for President Obama. He will welcome President-Elect Donald Trump to the White House on Thursday morning before greeting the Cavs in the afternoon.
Thursday, the team’s focus will be centered on President Obama and their championship, rather than a President Trump and the future.
“It’s a great achievement for this team to win a championship and have them go to the White House and get a chance to see President Obama in the White House and enjoy that moment,” Lue said. “And something that they worked so hard for last year, that’s finally here and they get a chance to experience it, so I’m happy to be a part of it.”