Land Of The Free-Throw


Ok, so the Obama and basketball thing has been dissected from every possible angle – his cool demeanour on the court, the “urban” nature of the game signaling a change to the ruling class of America, the fact that he’s willing to lead but also stand back and assist, how his jumper is solid and he won’t shy away from physical contact to get the rebound – it all serves to prove he has the court vision we need to take us out of recession and bring the troops back home. Or not. I’m not sure exactly why it’s  a revelation, perhaps because basketball is such an every-man’s game, but we’ve all had our minds blown by seeing Obama spotting up for three (John Kerry is quietly crying right now as he carefully waxes his windsurf board).  All the same,  the next president likes to shoot hoops and at some point we need to come to terms with that.


But regardless of how much has been written about the subject, this article (already linked to by Freedarko) is a must read. Actually it’s the only thing you need to read about the subject. Not so much that it covers Obama’s complete relationship with the game, which it does beautifully, but that it is also captures the psychological nature of the pickup game – a very different beast to organised basketball. Here’s a quote:

“Pickup ballplayers don’t talk as much as golfers during a round, but they more quickly reach judgments about temperament and collaborative aptitude. And there’s the emotional containment that ballers learn to bring to the court, even if only to ensure that no one can sneak up behind you to see emotions… you didn’t want them to see. Asked the boxers-versus-briefs question, Obama gave the pitch-perfect pickup baller’s reply: “I don’t answer those humiliating questions, but whichever one it is, I look good in ’em.”

Good stuff. America and the future is safe… that is, if we are invaded by aliens and our leaders are forced to play a game of basketball to decide the fate of the planet . Otherwise, it’s nice to know that Obama enjoys a good game, people are excited about basketball,  and that it’s not windsurfing.

Speaking of pickup basketball, I was reminded of this excellent article in Slate , written back in 2005.  I’m sure the comparisons could be updated, but Rip Hamilton is still “the guy who wears too much protective gear” and Shawn Bradley will always be “the guy who wants to play half-court”.

– David



Filed under Basketball

4 responses to “Land Of The Free-Throw

  1. JSW

    singling or signaling?

    I love baller romanticism, especially in its reference to politics.

  2. deadball

    Thanks, I meant signaling and it’s been changed accordingly. It’s good to see someone standing up for professionalism in the blog world. We’ve been left to run free to long!

    I agree, politics and sports most definitely mix. I wonder what sport John Key plays. I’m guessing hockey.

  3. JSW

    surely he’s a darts player

  4. deadball

    Darts is actually a good guess. It reflects his working class roots, but also the intense focus and attention to detail that his rise to political power has required.

    Helen Clark? She would probably reject traditional sports in favour of something more inclusive, like ultimate frisbee. But really, we all know she really wants to ruck the hell out of some girl in rugby.

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