Derrick Rose wants presidential visit

CLEVELAND -- President Barack Obama wants the Chicago Bulls to visit him in the White House after they win the NBA championship. Point guard Derrick Rose hopes that can happen as soon as possible.

"Hopefully this year, man," Rose said before Friday morning's shootaround. "He promised us that he was going to be at the game in the Finals if we made it. So it means a lot when you have the president on your side, but it takes a lot of hard work to get there. It takes dedication and focus and belief."

Obama told Grantland.com's Bill Simmons that he envisions celebrating with the Bulls in the White House.

"Every year," he said. "And it hasn't happened yet, but it will happen."

The president added: "Somewhere along the line my Bulls are going to come through here. Absolutely."

Obama's words brought an unusual smile to the face of Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.

"I like the fact that he likes the Bulls," Thibodeau said. "We certainly appreciate his support. It's great."

Obama was highly complimentary of Thibodeau during his chat with Simmons, a lifelong Boston Celtics fan.

"Now, Doc Rivers is a great coach as well, but for us to have been able to get that guy, he has just done a great job with what we've got," Obama said. "He's an outstanding coach."

Obama, the former Illinois senator, believes the Bulls have a shot to win the title this year.

"(Luol) Deng seems more confident," Obama said. "(Carlos) 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, I think, are right in there. I think 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."

Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.