Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 1/25/13
MIAMI When Pat Riley last visited the White House to mark the Miami Heats 2006 championship, he told President and Republican George W. Bush he had voted for him. So whats the Miami Heat president going to tell President and Democrat Barack Obama on Monday when his team again visits the White House? Heres how I am about that, said Riley, who Friday wouldnt reveal his vote in last Novembers election although it has been reported he donated 7,500 to Mitt Romneys campaign. Regardless of what I am, hes the leader and thats it. Hes the boss and Im right behind him. And it doesnt make any difference. And thats how I feel about it. And so Ill shake his hand with as much enthusiasm and hope for the best. Thats the way it is in this country. Thats how I feel about it. Monday will mark the sixth visit to the White House for Riley, even though hes been a part of eight NBA championship teams. Riley said teams didnt go to Washington back when he won a title as a Los Angeles Lakers player in 1972 and as a Lakers assistant in 1980. In addition to meeting with President Bush to commemorate the 2006 team he coached, Riley went to the White House and met with President Ronald Reagan following coaching Lakers title teams in 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988. It was different, Riley said of going to the White House in the 1980s. It wasnt as formal. It was a little different with Magic (Johnson) and Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) . We knew President Reagan from California (his home state). I didnt know him personally. But he was sort of part of the whole Lakers thing back there. Riley brought up President Reagan when he presented Bush with a Heat No. 1 jersey and an autographed ball during the Heats visit to the White House on March 1, 2007. Ive been here a few times, Riley told Bush. The last standing president I was here with was a Republican, Ronald Reagan. So Im proud to be here today. I voted for the man. If you dont vote, you dont count. The highlight (or was it the lowlight?) of that Heat visit came when Bush tried to bounce the ball he had been presented. The ball didnt have enough air, and it didnt come back up to Bush. That was funny,'' Riley recalled. "It actually wasn't planned either. It was embarrassing. Thump. Riley spoke to a few members of the media during a press gathering featuring former Heat stalwarts Eddie Jones and Brian Grant. As part of the teams season-long 25th anniversary celebration, the Heat brought the two players back to Miami for Fridays game against Detroit. Jones, a native of Pompano Beach who played with the Heat from 2000-05 and in 2006-07, retired from the NBA in 2008. Grant, who played with the Heat from 2000-04, retired in 2006. Shortly after that, Grant was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease, a disorder of the brain that leads to shaking and difficulty with movement. The disease is best known for Muhammad Ali having it. Ive handled it well, said Grant, whose left hand was shaking when he spoke to reporters. Thats why Im fanning myself (using a game program) because the tremor goes and builds up heat. I was diagnosed in 08, but I was having symptoms back in '06. Ive had it for roughly seven years. But I still dont take meds. Thats why I deal with that. Because once you start the meds, you cant get off of them. And they give you more problems sometimes than relief. But Im doing good. My foundation is doing good. Grant heads the Brian Grant Foundation, which deals with Parkinsons. Grant has invited Jones to a fundraiser next July in Portland, Ore., where Grant lives. Riley called Jones and Grant key acquisitions for the Heat when they both arrived in the summer of 2000. Neither, though, was around for the 2006 title. Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or on Twitter @christomasson
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