President Barack Obama saluted Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks on Monday as NBA champions who staged a season-ending charge to beat LeBron James and the vaunted Miami Heat and claim their first title with a “heart that’s the size of Texas.”

“This was a remarkable run, a great victory,” Obama declared, as owner Mark Cuban and Mavericks stars, including series MVP Nowitzki, looked on. “It’s too bad that next year, it’ll be the Chicago Bulls here.”

The first basketball fan—a passionate supporter of his hometown Bulls— was nonetheless lavish in praising the Mavericks, who beat the Heat in six games last June.

“They know how good teams win,” Obama said. “Not just by jumping higher or running faster, but by finding the open man, working together, staying mentally tough, being supportive of each other, playing smarter.”

– reported by Mark S. Smith of the Associated Press