President Barack Obama kicked off the 2012 NBA All-Star weekend by speaking with some of basketball's biggest stars and raising $2.1 million in the process.
Obama used the mansion of Dallas Mavericks guard Vince Carter to speak to an estimated 70 people about the state of the country on Thursday night. The group of people that listened to the president and ate in Carter's personal indoor basketball court included NBA TV commentator Steve Smith, Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, NBA Commissioner David Stern and former NBA players Magic Johnson and Alonzo Mourning.
Obama spoke about the importance of having the retired and current NBA players supporting him at the fundraising dinner.
"Alonzo (Mourning) and Tracy have been there for me every time I've come to Florida. I could not be more grateful for that." Obama said, according to a USA Today report. "Magic (Johnson) and Cookie, wherever I go in California they're there for us. Chris (Paul) is helping out on our Fitness Council and allowed me to cross over on him when we played during my birthday."
The Orlando Sentinel reported that each of the 70 guests had to pay $30,000 to attend the event with Obama, $5,000 of which went to the president's re-election campaign. The rest of the money was given to the Democratic National Committee.
At the fundraising event, the president spoke about his goal to make the economy more successful for citizens.
"We want success," Obama said. "We want to make sure that somebody like Vince Carter can build a house like this. [They] might not have the same vertical [leap] as Vince, but they may have just as much talent in the arts or science."
Although Obama spoke about his plans for the future of the country, he also spoke about his passion for basketball to kick off the NBA All-Star weekend. The president thanked Stern for resolving the NBA lockout situation that threatened to eliminate the season.
"I just want to say ... thank you so much for settling the lockout, because I don't know what I would be doing with myself if I didn't at least have some basketball games around," Obama said. "And obviously we're looking forward to the All-Star game."