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Obama, Straight Clownin’ With The NBA Champs

President Barack Obama holds up the No. 44 jersey presented to him by the NBA champion Golden State Warriors on Thursday at the White House.
President Barack Obama holds up the No. 44 jersey presented to him by the NBA champion Golden State Warriors on Thursday at the White House.

President Barack Obama gave up basketball in 2010 after a bloody lip required stitches. But maybe the 54-year-old president will find a second career on the hardwood.  

Okay, that’s not going to happen. But it didn’t stop Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr from floating the idea during a Thursday ceremony at the White House honoring his 2014-15 NBA championship squad.  

Kerr joked that Obama “will be a free agent next year” when his second term ends. He presented the outgoing president a white Warriors jersey with Obama’s name and the No. 44 emblazoned on it and called it “a symbol of an offer that is coming.”  

Obama nodded and mimicked a jump shot — although hoops fans know Obama would rather sign with his beloved hometown Chicago Bulls.  

Speaking of the Windy City’s professional basketball team, Obama — predictably — found a way to mention the Bulls early in the brief ceremony.  

He singled out Kerr, who won three of his total NBA titles with the Michael Jordan-led Bulls. Those in the audience laughed as Obama dropped the Bulls line, prompting a knowing shrug from behind the podium.  

The president seemed to issue a challenge to the Warriors, who have the best record in the NBA this season at 45-4. He said they may — or may not — break the 1995-96 Bulls’ record of 72 regular-season wins. (Either way, Obama noted, Kerr can claim the record. He was on that Chicago team.)  

The annual event did include some politics.  

Seated in the front row were California’s own House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who wore the Warriors signature yellow and blue colors.  

In a fitting — or corny, depending on your current mood — bit of symbolism, there was an aisle between them. That meant as they chatted before the Warriors and Obama entered, they were, literally, talking…across the aisle.  

And Obama summed up the 2014-15 Warriors as an entity who achieved some major goals despite being constantly doubted by “the critics.”  

“I can’t imagine how that feels,” he said in a tone tinged with more than a little sarcasm.  

But the festivities were mostly about basketball, with Obama calling Warriors star guard Stephen Curry “a pretty good shooter.” (Obama rejected Curry’s assertion that the commander in chief beat him in a golf match last year because Secret Service agents intimidated him. “That was not the case,” Obama deadpanned.)  

Curry went 19-28 from the field during a Wednesday night win over the Washington Wizards, making 11 three-pointers en route to a 51-point night. How did Obama sum up Curry’s white-hot shooting night during the Warriors’ 134-121 win?  

“He was clownin’,” Obama said before imitating a dance the Golden State star often does when he’s scoring buckets in bunches.  

Everyone laughed, including the Warriors players standing on risers behind him. But Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th U.S. president and a noted sportsman, remained stone faced in a portrait hanging near the scene.

Contact Bennett at and follow him on Twitter at @BennettJohnT.


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