Tales from the Trail

Hoop Dreams: Obama puts on full-court press at White House

October 8, 2009

Forget about Afghanistan, healthcare and the economy. President Barack Obama took time out on Thursday to indulge in his favorite sport as he hosted cabinet members and lawmakers for a round of pickup games on the White House basketball court.

OBAMA/It was the biggest day of hoop dreams at the White House since Obama took office, and reporters disappointed at being kept away went one-on-one with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs before the opening tip-off.

As for why were journalists being barred: “To protect the privacy and the statistics of any of those involved,” he quipped at his daily briefing.

As for who would referee between political friends and foes: “I assume they call their own fouls, which I’m sure is a point of contention at any given point,” Gibbs said.

As for why no women made the cut: “The point is well taken,” Gibbs said, conceding that as the father of two young daughters Obama would have to seek gender equality next time.

The roster included Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and 11 members of Congress, including two Republicans.

Earlier in the day, Obama also dropped by to watch a game on the White House court played by the Marine Wounded Warrior basketball team from the National Naval Medical Center.

And it seems Obama’s still got game. Gibbs said while playing on a church court during a visit to New York last month the president repeatedly blocked the shots of his personal assistant, Reggie Love, a former Duke University forward.

Obama had Love sign a photograph to prove his shot-swatting ability and had it put on display in the West Wing for his enjoyment as he walks to and from meetings, Gibbs said. It was brought into the briefing room as Gibbs recounted the story. Love, smiling uncomfortably, later slipped in and took it back.

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Gibbs shows photo of Obama blocking shot by Love)

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