Benchwarmer Barack Obama: 'I Was #23 Before Michael Jordan. He Got the Number From Me. He Stole It.'

Yesterday, President Barack Obama was presented with a Dallas Mavericks jersey by star Dirk Nowitzki as Obama welcomed the 2011 NBA champions to the White House (7:24 to 7:44 in the footage below).

The Mavericks chose #23 for Obama’s jersey. In typical self-aggrandizing fashion, Obama joked that he had made the number 23 popular before the legendary Michael Jordan, whose #23 jersey was retired by the Chicago Bulls in 1994 (and by the Miami Heat in 2003, even though Jordan had never played for the team).

Obama: Well, you know, I was actually–I was 23 before [Michael] Jordan.

Nowitski: Oh, you were?

Obama: I was. So, I–he got the number from me.

Nowitzsi: He stole it? (Laughter)

Obama: He stole it. (Laughs) That’s what happened.

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In fact, Jordan had chosen #23 in high school to honor his older brother, who wore #45 (roughly two times 23). Jordan wore #45 for a brief period upon his return to the Chicago Bulls after his first retirement.

Obama warmed the bench for his high school basketball team.

Not present at the ceremony was Mavericks guard Delonte West, who was barred from attending the White House celebration because of a misdemeanor arrest in 2009.

The Obama White House has previously welcomed convicted felons, however–including Chicago cronies such as Robert Creamer, who has attended White House meetings and at least one official White House function.