A President has to be a leader for all people regardless of his personal ethnicity, race or beliefs. So, when deciding which President in your lifetime was the best POTUS, myriad factors are taken into account. A candidate's position on abortion, welfare, healthcare, the military, unemployment, mass incarceration, police and the many issues confronting our nation affects whether or not that candidate represents everything we want in a President.
Those decisions vary from person to person depending on a number of factors. As Obama made his final address to America after eight glorious and legendary years, it kind of reminded me of when Magic Johnson retired. There was a finality that can drive anyone into a temporary depression. But once you get over Obama’s departure you can immediately begin to reflect on what has been a tremendous and incomparable legacy in American history.
Obama's jumper on the hardwood is what forever lifts him into the GOAT category when discussing the greatest American Presidents. People say he didn’t do enough for black folks, but being able to kill the pill is the blackest skill a human being can have. It’s the reason they call Jason Williams “White Chocolate.”
George W. Bush played some baseball in prep school and he most definitely threw a baseball better than Obama (and 50 Cent), but pitching is not recognized as a discipline requiring superior athleticism and according to the numbers, brothers don't play baseball anyway, right?
He may not have the greatest form, but compared to past Presidents, Obama's got a jumper. It’s wet too. He is the only President in history who can still run a full court. The way he moves on the court and the natural urban arc of his release reflects years of getting it in on the hardwood and concrete courts of inner-city Chicago. It’s his connection to the people. It’s proof that we had a President who wasn’t a has-been, but was growing and moving and existing in real time. And he was undeniably Black.
In fact, his shooting form has been broken down and analyzed and criticized more than his foreign policy.
Whether Obama was predicting the NCAA field of 64, hosting the Lakers at the Black House or honoring influential African-American sports figures in American history such as Ernie Banks or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Barack always had a pulse on the sports world and it served his popularity and relatability well.
Charlie Deitch of the Pittsburgh City Paper summed Obama’s sports legacy up best:
“Obama knows how to bring people together, and his love of sports made him engaging, accessible and, in a way, familiar to the rest of us. He wasn’t the stuffed shirt awkwardly throwing out first pitches, or tossing footballs like his arm was a catapult instead of a rocket launcher. Sports made Obama seem regular in a way that other presidents didn’t. The Bushes and Reagan seemed the opposite of approachable, and while Bill Clinton tried to project the regular-guy vibe, it never seemed completely authentic.”
Basketball is the most popular sport in America and gaining on soccer internationally as well. It was an ice-breaker for Obama throughout his political life. That rainbow jumper is the epitome of cool. And who doesn’t want a cool POTUS?
Yes, hoops has served him well. In November of 2012, he was seen playing a pickup basketball game with Scottie Pippen, before the election results dropped. While some past President's sat in a room pounding brandy and bogies, Obama was soothing his mind with the healer of all social healers; hoops.
Even before he was President, Obama was hooping against other Senators. Undoubtedly gaining his colleague’s respect and setting up his meteoric rise to President of the United States with every deft pass, bucket and hustle play.
Clips of the President show a relentless penetration, willingness to pass and exceptional court vision, which is reflective of his demeanor. He quickly surveyed the court and made decisions to minimize mistakes. He put team first, understood his function in achieving the collective goal and executed it pretty well. He was willing to run the show and do all the dirty work.
What makes it even doper -- and the reason why he's the crown prince of authenticity -- is that the Prez has skills. He wasn’t just out there trying to relive his glory days and failing miserably at it. He was at the top of his health and competitive hunger in everything he did.
He was the Billy Dee Williams and Michael Brady of Presidents too. It’s a crazy combination, but the ladies loved him and the young ballers saw him as the super cool dad.
Who can forget when he went Steph Curry-stupid against half the UConn Lady Huskies National Championship squad on the White House court? Prez had lethal, All-American sharp shooters airballing and all that.
He even won a skeptical military over with his basketball prowess. When you can nail a jumper, people start thinking you can do anything. Celebrity will get you everywhere in this country.
In this classic 2010 moment, Prez plays HORSE with former college star and current analyst Clark Kellogg. After a slow start, Obama’s shooting picks up and he even starts trash-talking the former pro.
He played ball with actor Don Cheadle and icon Kobe Bryant. He kicked it with Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant of Team USA and even tried to secure a basketball scholarship for Joe Biden’s 10-year-old granddaughter with women's basketball coaching guru Geno Auriemma.
So remember The Obama Era however you like as he rides off into the sunset with an unemployment rate at a 9-year low of 4.6 %. You can forget that he provided health care options for millions of people who previously didn’t have it. You can forget that his goal to be all-inclusive and partisan was met with resistance at every turn.
But NEVER forget the fact that the brother could hoop.
It doesn’t get any more American than that.