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Obama may be sports fan in chief, but he's not a luxury-box kind of guy

April 27, 2009 |  7:35 am

President Obama attends Bulls-Wizards game Feb. 27, 2006

A local sports team known as the Washington Capitals has managed to force the first-round National Hockey League playoff series to a seventh and final game.

To most Washingtonians, this is something of a yawn. This is a Redskins town of football nuts, a metropolitan area of Wizard basketball fanatics. Even the Nationals, worst team in baseball, have a loyal fan base. Also it's 90 degrees here. Hockey is a winter sport, played on ice.

Still, pressure is mounting on President Obama -- who already has developed something of a reputation as Sports Fan in Chief -- to attend Tuesday's game against the New York Rangers at the Verizon Center -- about eight blocks from the White House.

As the Washington Times' John Taylor noted, "It's a somewhat timely appeal."

After all, the in-shape, basketball-loving president played golf on Sunday morning at Andrews Air Force Base (his foursome: Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, presidential aide Marvin Nicholson). Last week, he hosted the Florida Gator football team in a public meeting and golf mega-star Tiger Woods in a private one. And today, he welcomes the NCAA champion University of Connecticut women’s basketball team.

Caps' team owner Ted Leonsis has stepped up his lobbying campaign by telling Obama that he would reserve a spot for him in the luxury box. As he recounted in his own blog, Leonsis delivered the message in person recently at Georgetown University, where the president was talking economics, and Leonsis, an alum, offered to host him at a playoff game. Obama gave the usual presidential brush-off: "I have heard great things about your team and I bet it will be a lot of fun. We will get back to you."

But if Leonsis thinks an owner's box will lure Obama, he hasn't been paying attention. This a new-generation Democrat.

Unlike President Bush, the security-obsessed president who regularly did the luxury-box thing, Obama is a guy who likes to mix it up, a politician who delighted Wizards regulars recently when he went to a Bulls game -- and sat in the stands with other fans.

The game was back on Feb. 27, the president's beloved Bulls lost, 113-90, but Obama got a great welcome from Wizards fans. Check out more photos below.

-- Johanna Neuman

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Photos: Associated Press (top), Getty Images (below)

President Obama attends Wizards-Bulls game Feb. 27, 2009 President Obama attends Wizards-Bulls game Feb. 27, 2009

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