Tales from the Trail

Air Obama: President’s re-election campaign goes Dream Team

President Barack Obama’s campaign fundraising “Win a date with a celebrity” lottery has gone Dream Team.

The campaign is offering donors who give at least $3 the chance to enter a lottery to attend the “Obama Classic,” a night of basketball with some of the sport’s greats — Alonzo Mourning, Patrick Ewing, Sheryl Swoopes, Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irvin — and the player many consider its greatest, Michael Jordan.

“Imagine shooting hoops with Carmelo Anthony, Patrick Ewing, Sheryl Swoopes, Kyrie Irving, and Alonzo Mourning. Oh, and you’ll get to meet President Obama and Michael Jordan over dinner, too,” Obama campaign staffer Marlon Marshall said in an email to supporters.

“Hit the court with Patrick Ewing and Melo? Trade stories with the President? This is the kind of stuff your kids will tell their kids, and no one will believe it until you show them a photo,” the email said.

Obama’s campaign has raised millions of dollars, and increased its small-donor base, with lotteries offering dinners or parties with the president, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton or Hollywood stars – and Democratic supporters – like Sarah Jessica Parker and George Clooney.

Obama plays hoops with NBA stars

President Barack Obama wrapped up his 49th birthday bash with perhaps the ultimate gift for a basketball fan.obama_basketball

Someone arranged for Obama to play  hoops with a “dream team” of NBA stars — past and present – (and UConn Huskies superstar Maya Moore) at Fort McNair, a short distance from the White House.

It was a private game, meaning the White House press pool was not allowed into the gym to capture images. But we’re told Carmelo Anthony, Derek Fisher, Dwyane Wade, Grant Hill, LeBron James, “Magic” Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, Bill Russell, and David West were among those in the lineup. Kobe Bryant was there too, but didn’t play.

Obama weighs in on big controversies – no DH, Duke and UConn

BASEBALL/

Perhaps emboldened by his successful push to overhaul the U.S. healthcare industry, President Barack Obama waded bravely into some of America’s other great debates, declaring himself an opponent of Major League Baseball’s use of the designated hitter, picking Duke University to win the men’s college basketball championship on Monday and the University of Connecticut to take the women’s college basketball crown on Tuesday.

“Even though I am an American league guy, I gotta admit that I am a baseball purist,” Obama said after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the Washington Nationals’ baseball team’s first game of the season.

“I think no DH makes more sense. Have everybody out there playing, doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” he said, during an appearance with the Nationals’ television broadcasters.

Obama eyes a new job: sportscaster

OBAMA/Sportscasters, beware. In a few years – three or seven, to be exact – President Barack Obama may want your job.

The basketball-playing prez took the afternoon off on Saturday to attend a game between Georgetown and Duke universities.

Part way through the second half, he took a turn at the announcers’ table to provide commentary on the college basketball game.

Now a U.S. senator, Scott Brown is ready to take on Obama

USA-POLITICS/MASSACHUSETTSFresh from a stunning election victory that shook the confidence of the national Democratic Party, Scott Brown says he’s ready for a showdown with President Barack Obama — on the basketball court.
    
Brown, known only a few weeks ago as a dude with a truck, says he challenged Obama to hoops when the two spoke by telephone on the night the Massachusetts Republican won Teddy Kennedy’s dyed-in-the-wool-Democratic-blue seat in the U.S. Senate.
    
“The only time I spoke to him was election night and I did challenge him to pick his best, and I’ll take my daughter Ayla who plays for Boston College, and we’d challenge him to a little 2-on-2. I think we’d have the upper hand,” Brown said in an interview with TV comedian Jay Leno. TELEVISION-LENO/
    
“He looks like he’s in great shape. It’d certainly be a tough game,” he said.
    
Brown didn’t mention how the president responded.
    
Obama, a hard-core hoophead, has shot baskets on the campaign trail, with U.S. troops in the field and with kids on the South Lawn of the White House. At 48, he would have a two-year advantage over the 50-year-old Brown. But as Sports Illustrated magazine notes, the president can’t dunk and doesn’t have a hoopster nickname. 
    
USA-OBAMA/Brown does have a nickname. At Tufts University, he was known as “Downtown Scotty Brown,” possibly for his long-distance jumpshots.  And that’s not all. In a given week, Brown told Leno, he swims close to 2 miles, bikes about 95 and runs 15 or 20 miles. 

If Obama’s really looking for ways to reach out to Republicans, a friendly game of basketball might make a nice change from all the ankle-tripping, elbow-jabbing, floorboard-thumping contests on Capitol Hill. 

Photo Credits: Reuters/Brian Snyder (Brown Victory); Reuters/Mario Anzuoni (Leno); Reuters/Jim Young (Obama and Young Hoopster)

Schumer calls foul on Adidas’ NBA uniform plan

nbaNew York Senator Chuck Schumer has called a foul on German sports equipment giant Adidas AG and its plans to shift production of official National Basketball Association uniforms to Thailand from a factory in upstate New York.

In a statement, Schumer said the shift could cut some 100 jobs at American Classic Outfitters in Perry, New York, which has made official NBA gear for about 40 years.

“It is flat wrong for Adidas to move the production of the jerseys worn by NBA players outside the United States when there are U.S. companies that have done this work so well for so long,” the Democratic lawmaker said in a statement.

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

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.

Confucius? No, Yao Ming

Instead of a cultural icon, well-known author or scholar, President Barack Obama sought the advice of … a basketball player as he talked of the importance of strong U.S.-Chinese economic ties.

In a speech opening the Strategic Economic Dialogue between the United States and China, Obama — an avid basketball fan and player — quoted China’s most popular sports star and Houston Rockets center, Yao Ming.

Obama said he and Chinese President Hu Jintao both agreed the two nations needed to hold “sustained dialogue to enhance our shared interests.”

NCAA mystery: Why did Obama change his pick?

Call it the March Madness Mystery – why did President Barack Obama change his pick of which college basketball team would win the NCAA tournament?

Obama, an avid basketball fan and recreational player, first chose Pittsburgh to go into the semifinal against Louisville, which he predicted would win the whole thing.

NCAA/BASKETBALLBut then something changed his mind. He scratched out Pittsburgh, wrote in North Carolina to play against Louisville and then changed his choice of tournament winner to the Tarheels.

Britain’s Brown probes Obama on possible tennis match

We all know that Barack Obama knows his way around the basketball court. He also has a decent golf swing. But what about tennis?

That is one of the things British Prime Minister Gordon Brown inquired about during his first visit to the Oval Office since Obama took over the presidency on Jan. 20. Tom Bradby of ITV News asked them how they found working with each other.

OBAMA/PRIME MINISTER BROWN: Yes, Tom, I’ve enjoyed every conversation that we’ve had, both on the telephone and when we’ve met. I don’t think I could ever compete with you at basketball — perhaps tennis.