Thanks to a couple of team owners, the Celtics had a chance to meet privately with President Barack Obama Tuesday night. But before they could get to the hoop talk, there was an outstanding issue between Obama and Rivers, who ignored the president’s phone call this summer after the Finals.
“He brought that up for sure,” Rivers said. “I’ve learned that if it’s a ‘202’ area code, you should probably answer it.”
Rivers met the president at an Museum of Fine Arts fundraiser along with several other Celtics, including Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo.
The Celtics have the best record in the Eastern Conference, but the Chicago Bulls, Obama’s hometown team, were a constant topic. New head coach Tom Thibodeau, Rivers’ longtime assistant, is in the running for coach of the year.
“He actually thanked us for giving them our guy,” Allen said. “He was like, ‘How’d you let that guy go.’”
Rivers called Thibodeau that night.
“He talked a lot about the Bulls,” Rivers said. “I will say that. That was good.
Having watched a couple Bulls games, apparently seeing Garnett get chippy with Joakim Noah, Rivers couldn’t help ask Garnett about a couple of elbows he may or may not have thrown.
“Kevin had to answer that question from the president of the United States,” Allen said. “You have to ask him what he said. I was like, ‘Yup, he’s watching, Kevin.”
It was the third time Allen’s met a president in his career (he met George W. Bush with the Celtics in 2008 and Bill Clinton with the Bucks). For Rivers, it was the second time talking with Obama and he wanted to schedule another meeting, pending the Celtics’ playoff fortune.
“He asked me if I needed anything, which if the president asks you that, you could say many things,” Rivers said. “I just told him I’d like to secure a date to see him again. That’d be nice.”