The Blog

Obama Holds Court

2:54 PM, Apr 30, 2008 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

I'm so over the Rev. Wright stuff. The question I've been obsessed with all day is this: How good a baller is Obama?

My interest was first peaked by a New York Post photo of Obama putting up a shot over UNC's enormously over-rated Tyler Hansbrough. Evidently, the Big O played in a scrimmage with the Tar Heels yesterday. So he's got to be pretty good, right?

Let's grant a few things right off the top: Of course the UNC players weren't going at it like it was the Final Four. Of course they were probably letting His Hopeness have some fun and not really challenging his dribble or his shot. But look: Basketball isn't golf. It's not like when a bunch of pros take a grinning political hack out on the course and trade jokes with him while he shoots a 107. Even if a bunch of Div I players are showing you a good time, you still have to be able to play just to hang with them on the court.

So how good is Obama? The still photos don't tell us much but the good folks at The Sporting Blog have some more info. We learn that Obama scored zero buckets, no surprise, really. But we also get this fantastic And-1 style tribute video, that includes some footage from the scrimmage:

Obama looks pretty good. He keeps his head up on the dribble, is obviously looking for passing lanes, and even knows enough both to throw head-fakes and to reset his attempt at penetration. I was particularly impressed with his left hand--until I saw him shooting and realized that he's a lefty. There's not a ton of footage here, but I don't see him go right much, which suggests to me that he may not have much of a right. The form on his jumper is classic playground--I don't know how much organized ball he played, but my guess is not much. But--and here's the big thing--he really moves nicely. Fluid, kind of graceful. He looks like he knows how to handle himself and would be a lot of fun in a pick-up game.

That said, if we were choosing teams with famous political players, I'd take the Wall Street Journal's Paul Gigot first. He's an assassin. For reals.