WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is hailing the Dallas Mavericks at the White House seven months after they beat the Miami Heat in the NBA finals.

The first basketball fan usually roots for his hometown Chicago Bulls. But in an East Room ceremony Monday, he praised Coach Rick Carlisle and Mavericks stars, including German-born forward Dirk Nowitzki, for defeating the Heat in six games last June.

The victory was sweet revenge for Dallas after it blew an NBA finals lead to the Heat five years earlier. The victory also upended the hope of Heat superstars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh for a championship in their first year playing together.

Nowitzki presented Obama with his own Mavericks jersey number 23. The president claimed that was his number in Chicago before Michael Jordan.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban took steps to arrange the White House visit himself when the league schedule didn't feature Washington.

Dallas is on an Eastern road trip this week

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