President Barack Obama is perhaps the most famous Chicago Bulls fan in the world. His passion for Bulls basketball well-documented, Obama was courtside Tuesday as Chicago defeated LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 97-95 in a thrilling match to kickstart the 2015-16 NBA Season.
Nikola Mirotic, entrusted to the starting role ahead of Joakim Noah, led Chicago with 19 points while Derrick Rose added 18 as the Bulls thrived under the offensive system of new head coach Fred Hoiberg.
With 10 seconds on the clock, and with Bulls leading 97-95, Pau Gasol blocked a potential game-tying layup from LeBron (see vine below). Seconds later, Jimmy Butler intercepted an inbound pass intended for LeBron as time expired.
LeBron scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds but his Cavaliers came up short against their arch rivals, the team they knocked out of the conference semifinals last playoffs.
In positive news for Cleveland, Kevin Love, who injured his shoulder during the last playoffs, looked fluid in his movements and scored 18 points in 35 minutes. Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert didn’t play the season opener as they continue to recover from injuries. Irving’s back-up PG, Mo Williams, made a successful comeback to the Cavs roster with 19 points and 7 assists from 37 minutes.
Meanwhile, President Obama was seen mingling with fans and cheering for his team. He even threw up his hands in despair every time a Bulls player missed a shot.
Prior to the game, LeBron said it was an “honor” to play in front of the president. “He loves the game of basketball. We all know that. It’s an honor for me to be a part of a venue and a spectacle that the president would like to come and watch. It’s an honor for sure.”