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President honors Cavaliers at White House: ‘Through it all, Cleveland was always Believeland’

WASHINGTON, D.C.-- President Barack Obama welcomed the kings of Cleveland to the White House Thursday.

The reigning NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers visited the White House on the same day as another high-profile visitor: President-elect Donald Trump.

The President invited the team after it defeated the Golden State Warriors for the NBA title in a thrilling seven-game series, which delivered the city its first professional sports championship since 1964.

After the victory in June, the President, whose love of basketball has been well-documented, called Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, telling him he hoped the team would "have a chance to come by the White House before I leave office."

Lue responded: "We're definitely going to do that," adding, "We're going to schedule it when you're in the White House, for sure." The trip by the Cavaliers was planned weeks in advance to coincide with the team's game Friday night against the Washington Wizards.

The Cavaliers are led by Finals MVP LeBron James, who endorsed Trump's Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, and appeared with her at a rally in Cleveland the Sunday before Election Day. James took to Instagram on Wednesday to write, "Parents and leaders of our children please let them know they can still change the world for the better! Don't lose a bit of faith! They're our future and we must remain stronger than ever!!"

@kingjames wraps up the @cavs visit to The @WhiteHouse!

A video posted by NBA (@nba) on

LeBron James posted a photo on Instagram of himself and First Lady Michelle Obama and talked about how humbled he was by the experience.

Another Cavalier, J.R. Smith, who attended the Cleveland rally with James, posted a message on Instagram with his daughter outside the White House. He also posted a photo of himself with First Lady Michelle Obama.

What a day!

A photo posted by JR Smith (@teamswish) on

When it comes to attire for the White House visit, the President made clear early on that shirts were not optional. He urged Lue in June to "tell J.R. and everybody to put on a shirt" after Smith was seen bare-chested for days after the victory. "He can't just be wandering around without a shirt for, like, the whole week," the President said.

President Obama said LeBron James and the entire team know exactly what the title means for Cleveland.  Obama said Cleveland is "a city that throughout sports history has been through a lot.... but, through it all, Cleveland was always Believeland."

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