Barack Obama is being celebrated in all his former presidential glory today, and with a big Twitter feud in the works between the current president, CNN anchor Don Lemon and NBA legend LeBron James, many are celebrating Obama’s birthday by looking back at the former president’s relationship with the four-time league MVP.
It’s no secret that Obama and James shared a chummy relationship over Obama’s eight year term. He was spotted in pictures with the three-time NBA champion several times, and the two have often sent public shout-out’s to each other on social media. Their relationship is quite the opposite of Trump and James’ relationship, which has been tense, cold and often riddled with insults over the last few years.
Here’s a look back at some of the special moments Obama and James shared while the former president was still in office:
1. Obama & James Playing Basketball Against Each Other in Washington in 2010 to Entertain Wounded Soldiers
Twitter has been lit up with users sending birthday wishes to the former U.S. president. In light of the looming Twitter war between President Trump, Don Lemon and LeBron James, many users are remembering what it was like to have a president who didn’t insult NBA players on his Twitter account.
Greg Andree posted a picture taken by former White House photographer Pete Souza while Obama was still in office. It shows James and Obama playing a friendly game of basketball, and James’ face is lit up with a huge smile.
The picture was taken back in 2010, two years into Obama’s term as president while celebrating his 49th birthday. The former president’s celebrity birthday game also included Dwyane Wade and hall-of-famers Bill Russell and Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Kobe Bryant attended, but did not play.
The all-star teams played on the court at Fort McNair military base gym in Washington to entertain wounded soldiers. Reporters weren’t allowed in the gym because Obama reportedly “just wanted to play,” according to the White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
2. When James Was Really Excited & Slightly Nervous to be in the White House
After Miami Heat won the 2013 NBA Championship, the team visited the White House to meet with the president. James took to the podium to say a few words, upon the president’s encouragement.
“Am I supposed to say something?” asked James. “You can if you want. It’s your world, man,” the president said.
As James took the stage, it was clear that he was both excited and nervous, and Twitter found his reaction endearing. Many had never seen James look so nervous before (aside from the occasional fourth-quarter jitters) so it made the situation all the sweeter.
Never seen LeBron that nervous. I would be the same way in front of the President.Lol #FanOfAFan
— Akeem Shavers (@PrinceAkeem24) January 28, 2013
Lol LeBron was so nervous at the podium talking to president Obama
— Durand Joseph (@Durand_Joseph) January 28, 2013
LeBron James was so nervous when he was talking to Obama! Lol
— Lizette Roman (@LizetteRoman) January 28, 2013
It didn’t take long for James to regain his composure. Toward the end of his speech, it was clear that he was more excited than nervous, exclaiming: “We in the White House right now!”
He ended his speech by giving a shout-out to his mom: “Hey, Mama, I made it.”
3. James’ Comments About How “Surreal” it was to Be So Close To The President of the United States
James and the Cavaliers visited the White House in November, 2016, taking a tour of the grounds and snapping photos before being honored as the 2016 NBA champions during a memorable ceremony. James said he was honored to be there, and was humbled by the experience, especially given his close relationship with the Obama’s.
“It is surreal,” James admitted. “Never in a million years did I think I would be this close with a President of the United States with the No. 1 biggest position of power in the world. We just have a real genuine relationship. We’ve got so many things in common we can talk about, not only from sports but community service and growing up in the inner city and figuring out ways that we can help the youth.
“Like I said, my life has definitely been pretty awesome. I never take it for granted when I get an opportunity to be around the president, be around the first lady. They’ve become really good friends and that’s something that’s special to me and my family.”
4. James’ Emotional Farewell to the Obama’s as They Were Leaving the White House
James filmed an emotional farewell for the former President during his final days in office.
“Tonight is Obama’s last night in office, and I just want to say to Barack, to Michelle, to the kids and everybody, you guys have been a true inspiration. Not only to myself, not only to my family and my kids, but to everybody,” he said in the video. “People who got dreams about wanting to become the President of the United States or the First Lady, or being in office when people are saying that you can’t do something, you guys have set the standard on ‘you can.'”
He continued the video, thanking Obama for being a “staple” for the American people, and telling the former president how much he appreciated what he did for the country.
“I just wanted to say thank you for leading our country the best way you could – standing tall, every single day, no matter the ups and downs, no matter how difficult things may have seemed or things may have been for our nation, you was always a staple. We truly appreciate it as the people.”
He ends the video by saying how grateful he was for Obama’s time in office and how sad he was to see them leave the White House, but bids them farewell, stating: “enjoy your retirement.”
5. Michelle Obama’s Sweet Shoutout to James After the Opening of His “I Promise” School
After James opened his incredible “I Promise” school on Monday, July 30, the 33-year-old superstar received praise from a number of athletes, celebrities and powerful individuals alike, “for setting a new standard for giving back.”
The Obama’s praised the school as well, with Michelle Obama tweeting at James on Tuesday. She told James how proud she was of him and the school, and told him to keep using his platform “for good and giving our kids a chance to shoot for the stars.”
The public school, built in partnership with the LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron Public Schools, is designed for at-risk kids, particularly those who are one year or more behind their expected reading level. The school is meant to help provide students the tools to have a successful future.
“Kids in Akron and across the US are luck to have you as a role model on and off the court,” said the First Lady. LeBron responded by thanking Mrs. Obama for her recognition.