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View Full Version : Great SI fluff piece on Obama.


Direckshun
12-28-2007, 03:04 PM
Very entertaining, so enjoy.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/the_point_after/12/24/obama1231/index.html

One-on-One With Obama

By S.L. Price

Here's the beauty of pickup basketball: You may be a U.S. senator, a living symbol of racial healing and perhaps even the next President of the United States, but if you're gliding in for an easy layup and each point is precious, I've got no choice then, do I? You're getting hacked. So, yes, I'm hammering that arm and crashing headlong into your whippet-thin frame; and, yes, it's a foul so flagrant, so absurdly desperate, that all you can do, body buckling, is laugh. Hey, it's pickup. Everyone, even you, uses whatever he's got to win.

"Believe me," Barack Obama says, walking to the top of the key, "you can get shot for doing that."

He's not serious. I think. But he wants me off his back, and invoking jumpy Secret Service men is a wise ploy. With the race for the Democratic presidential nomination whisker-close, Obama can't afford to show up for some Dubuque meet-and-greet with a mysterious fat lip. His wife, Michelle, warned me, "Don't break his nose, give him a black eye or knock his teeth out. Or I'll have to come find you."

Actually, Michelle understands. She hails from a Chicago family that believes the game -- when you pass, when you call fouls, how you check the ball -- reveals character. Once her romance with Barack got serious, she pressed her brother, Craig Robinson, to conduct the acid test: Go play. Robinson tried to duck it; he had starred at Princeton, and Barack had been a benchwarmer for his Hawaiian high school team. "All I could think was, This guy's going to be terrible, and I have to report that back," says Robinson, who's now the coach at Brown. "And you can't fudge it, because if he turns out to be a jerk and you knew but didn't say it, you're in trouble."

He liked what he saw. Obama was confident but not cocky, unselfish but unafraid to shoot. On court he showed the same balance that has fueled his political rise; he could talk trash without seeming mean, compete feverishly without seeming angry. Yet few knew how central the sport -- "my first love," he calls it -- was to his self-image as a mixed-race child: How the greatest gift from his absent dad was a basketball, how playing gave him his closest white friends and a place where black skin wasn't a disadvantage. When a coach, a close friend, casually threw out the word n-----, Obama says, "It reminded me that race is complicated, that people are complicated, that you could have ugly strains even among people who were otherwise decent.... It does not necessarily mean they're bad people."

So it's no surprise that Obama bit at the chance to play one-on-one. We met at the YMCA in Spencer, Iowa, in a gym with signs scolding, do not dunk balls or hang on rim! No problem. We both graduated high school in 1979, and the days when a soda bottle could roll beneath our jumping feet have long passed. At 6' 1 1/2", Obama is all lefty, quick with long arms. Before we start, he grabs some opposition research from my son, who readily says I'm "not in basketball shape" and will thus spend his teenage years peering through the barred windows of our basement.

"All right," Obama announces. "I've got your game cased out."

"It's all over?" I ask.

"It's all over."

Obama exudes none of that anxious Washington ambition; he's not weighing words. He's here to play.

The first game flies by in a blur of missed (mine) and made (his) jumpers: I lose 11-5. Obama throws out a cheap "Wooooo!" whenever I shoot but never resorts to ticky-tack calls; before the second game he notes our 15-pound weight difference. "If you wanted to bang inside a bit," he says, "you could."

I'm no fool. I start banging. After I commit that criminal foul under the basket, he lofts an air ball and I pull ahead 2-1. But we're both gasping, and proceed to play the ugliest, slowest game in history. A handler steps in, says his man must leave, so we decide to play to seven.

Obama hits two jumpers to go up 3-2, and I remember what Michelle told me: "He's very good at the last minute."

"All right," I say coyly, flipping him the ball. "This is for the presidency...."

He drills a 19-footer, heels barely leaving the ground. "Did you hear me?" I say.

"Why do you think I hit it?" he says.

I back him down twice to tie 4-4. He drains two more, but I swish one to cut it to 6-5. Now Obama closes in, blocks my last shot, grabs the ball. He shuffles out wide, turns and sets, face blank. I thunder toward him, arm outstretched, feeling suddenly like Hillary and Edwards and anyone else in Iowa trying desperately to stop Obama's rise.

The ball drops through the net like a stone.

Direckshun
12-28-2007, 03:05 PM
High school footage of the man himself:

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jAZ
12-28-2007, 07:17 PM
Smart PR move by Obama. Good audience to try to reach out to, IMO. I don't recall that we've ever had a President who was physically capable of playing a sport enough to be relevant to the SI audience.

Obama will be our first "pickup game" President.

patteeu
12-28-2007, 07:18 PM
Smart PR move by Obama. Good audience to try to reach out to, IMO. I don't recall that we've ever had a President who was physically capable of playing a sport enough to be relevant to the SI audience.

Obama will be our first "pickup game" President.

Obama's not going to be President.

Direckshun
12-28-2007, 07:36 PM
Obama's not going to be President.
Ah.

Who's going to President, again?

go bowe
12-28-2007, 07:53 PM
Obama's not going to be President.and neither will dick cheney... :p :p :p

patteeu
12-28-2007, 08:57 PM
Ah.

Who's going to President, again?

I was going to say Dick Cheney, but I've recently learned otherwise. :)

My guess is that it will be a Republican.

Count Alex's Losses
12-28-2007, 09:06 PM
Hell, that kind of made me like Obama.

Easy 6
12-28-2007, 09:41 PM
Smart PR move by Obama. Good audience to try to reach out to, IMO. I don't recall that we've ever had a President who was physically capable of playing a sport enough to be relevant to the SI audience.

Obama will be our first "pickup game" President.

Gerald Ford, clumsy jokes aside, was a star center at Michigan & was also courted to coach boxing at some college.

Easy 6
12-28-2007, 09:42 PM
Obama's not going to be President.

Maybe not this year, but i bet he is before its all said & done.

Despite your most earnest protestations... :p .

jAZ
12-29-2007, 11:38 AM
and neither will dick cheney... :p :p :p
Not so fast...

http://www.crooksandliars.com/Media/Download/24661/1/fns_kristol_predictions_122307.wmv

;)

Demonpenz
12-29-2007, 11:39 AM
Smart PR move by Obama. Good audience to try to reach out to, IMO. I don't recall that we've ever had a President who was physically capable of playing a sport enough to be relevant to the SI audience.

Obama will be our first "pickup game" President.


bush sr played baseball at yale and his son owned the rangers

patteeu
12-29-2007, 11:46 AM
Maybe not this year, but i bet he is before its all said & done.

Despite your most earnest protestations... :p .

If he leaves the Senate and becomes Governor of Illinois or something, possibly. But I'd take that bet against any person no matter how attractive and well qualified I thought they were. Becoming President is hard and there are lots of things that can trip you up or discourage you along the way. At one time, Mario Cuomo was supposed to be an eventual President. Lots of people thought that Colin Powell would someday be President. Obama has something that neither of those two had, i.e. he's demonstrated a desire to run for the office, but if I had to bet one way or the other, I'd still bet against him.

jAZ
12-29-2007, 11:55 AM
If he leaves the Senate and becomes Governor of Illinois or something, possibly. But I'd take that bet against any person no matter how attractive and well qualified I thought they were. Becoming President is hard and there are lots of things that can trip you up or discourage you along the way. At one time, Mario Cuomo was supposed to be an eventual President. Lots of people thought that Colin Powell would someday be President. Obama has something that neither of those two had, i.e. he's demonstrated a desire to run for the office, but if I had to bet one way or the other, I'd still bet against him.
Always take the field on any "...will be President" bet.

jAZ
12-29-2007, 11:58 AM
And just to be clear to those citing the athletic prowess of former Presidents... I meant "physically capable" at the time they ran for/held office.

As for being an owner...

So is fatboy...
http://www.newsday.com/media/photo/2005-10/20138793.jpg

ROFL

Baby Lee
12-29-2007, 12:10 PM
And just to be clear to those citing the athletic prowess of former Presidents... I meant "physically capable" at the time they ran for/held office.
Don't know if has any sports skills, but doesn't Bush have excellent cardio? Running like 10 miles a day and a 70-ish resting heartrate. Seems like this even factored into his pretzel/vasovagal incident.

jAZ
12-29-2007, 12:14 PM
Don't know if has any sports skills, but doesn't Bush have excellent cardio? Running like 10 miles a day and a 70-ish resting heartrate. Seems like this even factored into his pretzel/vasovagal incident.
Not sure SI readers would find Presidential jogging sports-news worthy.

Baby Lee
12-29-2007, 12:19 PM
Not sure SI readers would find Presidential jogging sports-news worthy.
I guess you actually didn't mean 'physically capable.' ;)

Cochise
12-29-2007, 12:43 PM
Oh man. That tears it. I have to change my vote to the guy who can play basketball!

go bowe
12-29-2007, 05:35 PM
Oh man. That tears it. I have to change my vote to the guy who can play basketball! ROFL ROFL ROFL

jAZ
12-29-2007, 10:52 PM
I guess you actually didn't mean 'physically capable.' ;)
Jogging doesn't make one physically capable of playing competitive pickup basketball, does it?

I think you get my point, however you wish to phrase it.

StcChief
12-31-2007, 12:26 PM
I was going to say Dick Cheney, but I've recently learned otherwise. :)

My guess is that it will be a Republican.
we can only hope. the independent and swing voters see thru sHillary, Obama, pretty boy Edwards

Baby Lee
12-31-2007, 12:45 PM
Jogging doesn't make one physically capable of playing competitive pickup basketball, does it?

I think you get my point, however you wish to phrase it.
If your point was 'I'll get into a battle of semantics even over the most minute of issues' then yes.

It's OK, you thought you had some kind of 'unprecedented phenomenon' angle to work.

But yes, Obama is the first documented presidential candidate to play a game of pickup basketball with a writer for Sports Illustrated in the course of a campaign!!!

Cochise
12-31-2007, 12:49 PM
I wonder who is not capable of playing pickup basketball? Anyone with a reasonable level of fitness or mobility could do it. In fact, from what I have read in the past our current president works out daily and could probably handle himself fine.

Maybe like many of us he wouldn't have the trained basketball skills that come from experience with that game, but so? I bet Bill Bradley could have mopped the floor with Al Gore. What does that mean, exactly?

Cochise
12-31-2007, 12:50 PM
Also: Why is "women will vote Hillary because she is a woman" dumb, but "Sports fans will vote Obama because he plays a sport" isn't dumb?

Thig Lyfe
12-31-2007, 12:54 PM
we can only hope.

Hope... input "4+ more years republican administration"

does not compute

chiefforlife
01-01-2008, 11:13 AM
I was going to say Dick Cheney, but I've recently learned otherwise. :)

My guess is that it will be a Republican.


Thats funny, after GW has single handedly destroyed the Republican party. IMO there is no way a republican gets the office.

Direckshun
01-01-2008, 12:58 PM
I wonder who is not capable of playing pickup basketball? Anyone with a reasonable level of fitness or mobility could do it. In fact, from what I have read in the past our current president works out daily and could probably handle himself fine.

Maybe like many of us he wouldn't have the trained basketball skills that come from experience with that game, but so? I bet Bill Bradley could have mopped the floor with Al Gore. What does that mean, exactly?
Untwist your panties, it's a fluff piece.

patteeu
01-01-2008, 03:24 PM
Thats funny, after GW has single handedly destroyed the Republican party. IMO there is no way a republican gets the office.

I'm not sure that it bothers me that a "long time Republican" who is willing to consider Obama and who bemoans possible cuts in medicare and medicaid and farmers aid thinks that GW has destroyed the Republican party. :shrug: