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Former President Barack Obama surprises at USA Basketball party

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LAS VEGAS – Former President Barack Obama gave a 10-minute speech about the importance of representing the United States at a ceremony attended by the U.S. men’s basketball team.

In a surprise that surprised most everyone in the room at the USA Basketball Association’s 50th anniversary party Tuesday night, Obama began his message by saying there was no bigger basketball fan in the world than himself.

He spoke about the importance of uniting the country and showing the world what America can achieve at its best.

“I’m pretty confident they’re going to bring back gold and represent us in the world the way we’re supposed to be represented,” Obama said.

MORE: Clippers star Kawhi Leonard withdraws from US Olympic basketball team

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The meeting was attended by numerous basketball Hall of Famers, Olympians and USA Basketball luminaries, including Spencer Haywood, Cheryl Miller, Dawn Staley, Sheryl Swoopes, Reggie Miller, Steve Smith, Tim Hardaway, Doug Collins, Mike Krzyzewski and Jerry Colangelo.

“I just want to come here to say goodbye to the soon-to-be gold medalists,” Obama said. “But I want to come here and thank the legends who have represented USA Basketball and America for 50 years.”

Earlier in the day, Vice President Kamala Harris met briefly with the U.S. men’s team during practice on the UNLV campus.

Team USA will kick off its five-game warm-up for the Paris Olympics with a game against Canada on Wednesday (10:30 p.m. ET, FS1).

Follow NBA reporter Jeff Zillgitt on social media @JeffZillgitt