On Tuesday, Barack Obama, always eager to increase his ubiquitous presence with an appearance on TV, attended the season opener between the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers in Chicago, offering trenchant analysis of the NBA on TNT.
Arriving in the middle of the first quarter, Obama conducted an interview with TNT’s David Aldridge in the middle of the second quarter, asserting, “These are two of the top teams in the East. And I think in the West, it’s a free-for-all.… I wouldn’t want to be battling it out over there. I’m glad my Bulls are over in the East.”
He named the Warriors, Thunder, Spurs, Clippers, and Rockets as the teams to beat in the West.
Obama also commented about new Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg, saying, “I think it’s very promising. You’ve got a new coach, he’s opening up the new offense a little bit. The question is whether they can hang onto the defense with the new offense.” He said he had high hopes for the Bulls, stating, “I’m feeling optimistic. I like how Derrick (Rose is) playing right now, and (Jimmy) Butler’s been terrific and is going to be great.”
The Bulls won, 97-95, when Pau Gasol blocked a lay-up by LeBron James at the end of the game.
James expressed delight that Obama attended the game, telling reporters:
I believe our league is the greatest league that we have in the world. We have the greatest athletes and greatest fans and so on and so on. So [for] the president of the United States to grace us on opening night in Chicago, I’m just honored. Something I can tell my kids a long, long time from now. I’ll actually be able to have the film showing them—kids don’t believe me sometimes—I’ll be able to show them the film that the president of the United States was at a ballgame I played in. That’s pretty cool.
Obama’s NBA prognostications aside, he simply isn’t much of a player himself. As former NBA commissioner David Stern once noted of Obama’s basketball skills, “He’s a lefty and goes the same way every time … I’m a loyal Democrat okay, a passionate Democrat. He’s not as good as he thinks he is.”