April 23, 2001

Photo Gallery

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush saluted NCAA basketball champs from Duke and Notre Dame at the White House Monday. But he wasn’t about to shoot hoops with any of them.

“The weather’s been such that I haven’t been practicing my sky hook lately,” Bush told the Duke men and Notre Dame women at a ceremony not far from the small South Lawn basketball court that his father, the former president, had installed years earlier.

“Looking at the size of some of these guys I’m not sure I want to try to do it now anyway.”

The president saluted the teams not only for their skill:

“Reviewing the rosters and the success of this club, both Duke and Notre Dame recruited for athletic talent but they also recruited character as well. These championships go to prove that good people do finish first.”

Bush said he empathized with the player who called the lady Fighting Irish’s win “scary” after they rallied from deficits to beat Purdue by just two points in the final seconds of their April 1 championship game.

“I know what you’re talking about. It reminds me of election night,” Bush quipped.

He accepted jerseys from each team, shorthanding Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s name.

“The reason I call him Coach K is because sometimes I have trouble pronouncing long words,” Bush chuckled.

Krzyzewski had a bit of trouble himself. Handing Bush a No. 1 Duke jersey, the coach suggested they should have thought to give him “41” instead.

“Forty-three,” Bush corrected him, referring to a Bush family nickname for the son of the 41st president. “Forty-one’s the other guy.”