Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How the game of basketball shaped Barack Obama

Good story from the Associated Press today about the role basketball played in Barack Obama's life. Evidently, Obama was a good hoops player in his prime, playing in high school for a team that won the Hawaii state title.

According to his former coach, "He could have played and started on any other team in the state."

According to the AP story:

On a playground under the sweltering sun, "Barry" found refuge and identity. The pudgy boy of mixed race — his mother a white woman from Kansas, his father a black man from Kenya — spent hours alone, working on his jumper, crossover dribble and other moves. With his maternal grandmother watching from her 10th-floor bedroom window, he would shoot hoops into the night.

There's a great quote in the article from a guy who used to play pick-up games with Obama in college who remembers Obama's defensive effort:

"I truly believe the way someone plays basketball definitely gives you a sense of who they are in their character."

Here's a similar article from the NY Times about Obama and hoops that ran last year. In it, Rickey Green, a 6-foot guard who played in the NBA for 14 seasons and who played with Obama in a pick-up game a few years ago, said: “I didn’t think he could play at all, to be honest with you. He’s above average [for a pickup player]. He’s got a nice little left-hand shot and some knowledge of the game.”