Obama catches Bulls season opener

SLUG: spWIZ2_27 DATE: 2/27/09 CREDIT: Preston Keres / TWP LOCATION: Washington, DC. SUMMARY: Washington Wizards vs. Chicago Bulls. CAPTION: President Obama has fun with Miles Rawls (standing) during a big play in the game. StaffPhoto imported to Merlin on Fri Feb 27 20:33:01 2009

While many Americans tuned in to the first game of the Baseball World Series Tuesday, President Barack Obama had another sport in his sights.

Obama made an unexpected appearance at the Chicago Bulls season opener, during a two-day trip to his home town.

The Bulls tipped off against LeBron James’s fancied Cleveland Cavaliers.

“Good to be home for a night. Even better to see the @chicagobulls start the season off right! #SeeRed,” Obama tweeted after the game, which the Bulls won 97-95.

Obama arrived to cheers toward the end of the first quarter, ditching his tie and jacket, rolling up his sleeves and slapping hands with fellow spectators as he took his seat.

During the first intermission, he was entertained by Benny the Bull, a dancing mascot, and he chatted with longtime friend Marty Nesbitt.

He received loud cheers a little while later when, during a break in play, a ball rolled across toward him and he bounced it back across the other side of the court.

For much of the opening proceedings Obama was able to watch the Bulls lead against a team that was 53-29 last season.

The Bulls’ new coach Fred Hoiberg faces a challenge from early season injuries, with Derrick Rose on the mend from a broken orbital bone and Mike Dunleavy sidelined after back surgery.

“You’ve got a new coach. He’s opening up the offense a little bit. The question is going to be if you can hang on to the defense with the new offense,” Obama said on TNT at halftime.

“I am happy the Bulls are in the East (Conference) because the West is stacked with Golden State, San Antonio, Houston and Oklahoma City.”

At halftime, the US president also posed for photos with fans