Obamas basketball buddies revealed
When he's on the basketball court, Barack Obama isn't concerned about statistics. Most reports of the president's on-court play, including one in the new Vanity Fair article from acclaimed writer Michael Lewis, mention his tough defense and careful shot selection. In other words, he's not a stat-sheet filler.
There is one interesting metric that often goes unnoticed: In his first two years in office, the president played twice as much golf as he did basketball. CBS Radio's Mark Knoller counted 57 rounds for Obama versus 28 basketball games through 2010.
That stat gets buried because presidents playing golf has been done. In the past 60 years, the only president who hasn't played the game is Jimmy Carter. No one wants to hear that story again -- except, perhaps, the opposition leaders who inevitably grumble about the outings. A president who plays basketball, or one who mountain bikes like George W. Bush, allows for a new narrative.
That's why Lewis asked to play in Obama's regular basketball game. There's so much written about the president and his love of basketball, but precious little is known about the now-legendary pickup games that are played on courts across the Washington D.C. area. Lewis tried to fill in some of the blanks.
He writes of the game like it's a meeting of the basketball Avengers. Everyone is bigger, faster, stronger and younger than the 50-year-old Obama. They're mostly former college players, Lewis writes, including one who played point guard at Florida State. The president could get a game that's more his speed, but the "ridiculously challenging" game is the one he wants to play.
Is Obama really hooping it up in a virtual all-star game every week? Did Lewis oversell the talent on the court? Or did the White House use ringers knowing a Vanity Fair writer would be there?
Yes, yes, and (probably) yes.
The identities of Obama's pickup mates aren't well known, but after combing through hundreds of news articles from the past few years, we were able to find some participants. Most of the men (and they're almost invariably men) have ties to Obama's cabinet, like Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Others stumbled into the game because of friends of friends, like Jon Larranaga, who is alluded to, but not mentioned by name, in Lewis' article. Other identities are still unknown. That Florida State guard could be three-time NBA champion and current Washington Wizards[..]istant Sam Cassell. Or it could be an unknown former Seminoles walk-on. The president has managed to keep it a mystery.
It seems that even the world's most covered man can still evade the press every now and then.
Name: Reggie Love
Day job: Former personal aide to president, current Wharton student
Basketball bonafides: Played two years at Duke, scored 47 total points
What Obama says about his game: "His judgment is not always right. He still believes that he's got a 3-point shot. Coach K, to my understanding, shut that down."
Note-passing abilities: Strong. Obama said he and Love used to slip notes to one of his daughter’s basketball coaches during games.
Name: Arne Duncan
Day job: United States Secretary of Education
Basketball bonafides: Co-captain of Harvard’s 1986-1987 team, averaged 16.9 points. Played professionally overseas, mainly in Australia’s NBL.
Scouting report from noted basketball source, The New Yorker: “Wearing shorts and a synthetic black long-sleeve T-shirt, he played with relaxed ferocity, combining opportunistic defense with slashing moves to the basket, shrewd passes, and feathery hesitation jumpers.”
Name: Martin Nesbitt
Age: Appx. 50
Day job: BFF of POTUS, CEO of airport-parking company
Basketball bonafides: Played high school basketball; recruited to Princeton by Craig Robinson, Michelle Obama’s brother
Recent role: Nesbitt served as timekeeper when Michael Lewis played in the pickup game.
Quote about Obama’s competitive streak: “I don’t know how to play shuffleboard. He doesn’t know how to play shuffleboard. But if we play, it’s like ‘I can beat you.”
Name: Alexi Giannoulias
Day job: Former Illinois treasurer
Basketball bonafides: Played 3.2 minutes per game for Boston University during the 1997-1998 season.
Stock quote about Obama on the court: “We don’t look at him like he’s President of the United States.”
Name: Reynaldo Decerega
Day job: Director of programs for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute
Basketball bonafides: Played high school basketball at a private school in suburban Washington D.C.
Nickname: “Nice guy Rey”
Number of pickup games with president: 1
Why he hasn’t been back: Accidentally gave Obama 12 stitches in the lip during a game the day after Thanksgiving in 2010.
Name: Tim Geithner
Day job: United States Secretary of the Treasury
Basketball bonafides: Love of the game?
Billy Madison moment: Hooped it up with Chinese high schoolers during official visit to Beijing in 2010.
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|09-21-2012, 12:06 PM||online - #2|
Name: Ken Salazar
Day job: United States Secretary of the Interior
Basketball bonafides: Has slowed down of late, but is said to love a good pickup game.
Show of confidence: Three days into Obama’s term, Salazar jokingly challenged the White House to a basketball game against his Interior Department.
Name: Javon Coney
Day job: Former walk-on at University of Colorado
How he got an invite: Coney’s father, Lester, served on Obama’s finance committee during 2008 campaign. Through the connection, Coney interned with Reggie Love, which led to a surprise email invite to play in the pickup game.
Evaluation of POTUS' game: "It's good . . . he probably can't move like he once did, but he can still shoot. He tried to get after it and hustle; one time he dove for a loose ball."
Name: Daryl Gabriel
Age: Appx. 50
Day job: Sales representative in Honolulu for GlaxoSmithKline
Basketball bonafides: Star player on Obama’s Hawaii state champion high school team. Played at Loyola Marymount.
On-court talk: “There’s no conversation about politics. It’s more about family, friendship and old times.
Obama’s hot spot: “He’s money from the baseline — the baseline three-pointer from the right-hand corner. Don’t let him shoot from that spot.”
Name: Jon Larranaga (pictured left)
Age: Appx. 31
How he got invite: Received phone call from pickup basketball buddy Art Jackson, who coached under Jon’s father, Jim Larranaga, at Bowling Green.
Not-so-subtle way he was alluded to in the Lewis piece: “Overhearing the conversation, another player tossed me a jersey and said, ‘That’s my dad on your shirt. He’s the head coach at Miami.’”
The most trutful description of what it’s like to play with Obama: “If he wasn't the president, you'd be like, 'All right, he's just another guy getting a workout in here.' But he's the president, so everybody's a little nervous, not really sure what to do, how to play.” (via DC Sports Bog)
Name: Avery Robinson (pictured, to right of his Aunt Michelle)
Day job: Student
Connections: Nephew of Barack Obama
All we know: Robinson’s name was one of the few released by White House aides on the day Obama received stitches.
Last edited by phantomnation; 09-21-2012 at 12:31 PM..
|09-21-2012, 12:30 PM||away - #3|
Arne Duncan is a !!in beast. I bet he balled on Pres a few times.
|09-21-2012, 12:34 PM||away - #4|
that nicca got a squad, they'd probably run on any bx niccas [pic]
Head Coach Big Bill [pic]
|09-21-2012, 12:38 PM||away - #5|
arne duncan go hard on the court
|09-21-2012, 12:43 PM||away - #6|
|09-21-2012, 12:49 PM||away - #7|
who would wanna be the dude that breaks the !! out of obamas ankles on the court
|09-21-2012, 03:19 PM||away - #8|
So we go act like the Secretary of education can't ball ... yall niccas seen the high lights
He'd break you BX niccas off and then make you write a paper about how !!ty your game is [pic]
|09-21-2012, 03:35 PM||away - #9|
And this is why y'all vote for him. Let's forget everything else. He plays basketball. He's one of yall right?
|09-21-2012, 03:59 PM||away - #10|
|09-21-2012, 04:25 PM||away - #11|
Man, I wished they came out with that Arne Duncan celebrity game jersey. I've wanted to cop that for a minute.
|09-21-2012, 04:25 PM||away - #12|
|09-21-2012, 10:34 PM||away - #13|
Read through the thread thought y'all was being sarcastic about this Arne Duncan dude.... then I watched the video.
HOLY !! he's pretty spry for a 50-yr-old man. His form is ugly but his game is super effective. The dude can ACTUALLY ball.
|09-21-2012, 11:10 PM||away - #14|
arne duncan looked like he coulda played back in the 80's...
bet the obama styled on him with the three
i know for a fact obama played a game against charles barkley and Jordan...
|09-22-2012, 12:07 AM||away - #15|
Arne Duncan > Obama let's be real here.
That's how I play on the court too, no none-sense, I'm going to be effective, pass to the open man (if he can shoot), shut down my guy on defense, get rebounds/put backs, hit open shots, and drive to the lane to force action.
In other words... white boy ball.
As far as an NBA player I've always compared to my game it's always been Luol Deng.
|09-22-2012, 01:15 AM||away - #16|
Less work on the J and post game, and more work on foreign policy and the on hand economic crisis please.
|09-22-2012, 01:50 AM||away - #17|
Yea I was coming in here to say Arne Dumcan can ball... But Obama can ball to
|09-22-2012, 02:29 AM||away - #18|
|09-24-2012, 03:03 PM||away - #19|
|09-24-2012, 03:18 PM||away - #20|
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