WASHINGTON - The White House insists that the missing kiss was no diss.
Sure, President Barack Obama planted one on first lady Michelle Obama during Monday night's exhibition game by the U.S. Olympic men's basketball team. But that was their second appearance on the Verizon Center "Kiss Cam."
The first time the Obamas appeared on the scoreboard, Mrs. Obama was seen shaking her head "no."
However, spokesman Josh Earnest says the couple didn't realize it was the "Kiss Cam" watching them. He says they found this out after, when their daughters told them. Earnest says reports the president was "rebuffed" the first time "are false."
“Obviously the talent that we’ve got at this point is unbelievable,” Obama said during a halftime interview on ESPN2. “So there’s no reason that we shouldn’t bring home the gold. We just have to stay focused.”
Obama is an avid basketball fan and the tune-up games before the start of the London Olympics allowed him to wrap himself in the Olympic spirit four months before Election Day. His Republican rival, Mitt Romney, is expected to use the Olympics to highlight his leadership role during the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
Romney, who helped turn around the Salt Lake City Games after they became caught up in a bribery scandal, plans to be in London for the opening ceremonies next week. First lady Michelle Obama will lead the U.S. delegation to the opening ceremonies.
Monday night gave Obama a chance to soak in his favorite sport. The U.S. rallied from an early 10-point deficit to beat Brazil 80-69.
After a quick ride to the Verizon Center from the White House, Obama greeted members of the U.S. women’s basketball team on a practice court after their win over Brazil in the first game.
"We could not be prouder,” Obama said after hugging Tamika Catchings, Diana Taurasi and other members of the women’s team. The women’s team presented Obama with a red No. 1 USA jersey and a signed basketball.
Obama, dressed in a blue jacket and jeans, then walked out before a roaring crowd, shook hands with fans and sat down next to former aide Reggie Love, who played basketball for Duke University.
Some members of the men’s team are Obama supporters. A handful of Olympic team members, including Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, had agreed to participate in a basketball game fundraiser for Obama’s campaign last December but the event was canceled because of the resolution of the NBA lockout. The fundraising game has not been rescheduled.
Obama’s campaign held a fundraiser last February at the Orlando-area home of Vince Carter of the Dallas Mavericks. Attendees included Paul, who plays point guard for the Los Angeles Clippers, NBA commissioner David Stern and former NBA stars Magic Johnson and Alonzo Mourning.
Basketball has been a longtime passion of Obama’s. He played high school basketball in Hawaii and likes to play pickup basketball with friends. He helps coach his daughter Sasha’s youth team and keeps close tabs on his hometown Chicago Bulls.
During Veterans Day last year, he was courtside for a game between Michigan State and North Carolina on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson off the coast of San Diego. In March, Obama invited British Prime Minister David Cameron to an opening round game of the NCAA tournament in Ohio.