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Phoenix Mercury visit President Obama at the White House

President Barack Obama holds up an Phoenix Mercury basketball jersey presented to him by the team during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, where he honored the 2014 WNBA basketball Champions Phoenix Mercury. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Wednesday honored the 2014 WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury for not only being outstanding players, but role models to girls.

Obama said the team and other women across the WNBA are “changing the way that young girls — including my daughters — see themselves.”

Phoenix, which visited the White House Wednesday, won its third WNBA title last September with a three-game sweep of the Chicago Sky in the finals. Not coincidentally, President Obama invited the Mercury to the White House on a day he proclaimed as Women’s Equality Day.

Obama also recognized the team for its service in the Phoenix community, including running basketball clinics for underserved children and adopting high school basketball teams to mentor each year.

“So this is a team that I think is representative of what the WNBA is all about,” he said. “They’re doing good in their community. They’re great athletes. They and women across the WNBA are changing the way that young girls, including my daughters, see themselves. And as a dad, I’ve witnessed the shift just in the last 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, in terms of it just being taken for granted that women are great athletes and great leaders. And that does not happen unless these outstanding women perform the way they do.”

The Mercury presented President Obama with a signed ball and a Phoenix jersey with his name on it.

Phoenix swept Los Angeles in the playoff’s opening round and knocked off Minnesota in the conference finals before sweeping Chicago. The Mercury finished the regular season 29-5 to break the league record for victories.

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