US presidents enjoy a long history of sporting associations, from throwing out Opening Day ceremonial pitches to playing tag football (Kennedy) and bowling in the White House (Nixon). And, of course, a number of presidents have taken a fancy to golf, including President Obama. But it is Obama’s embrace of basketball that really sets him apart and clearly has been such an influential theme in his life. “Audacity of Hoop” (the title, of course, plays off then-Senator Obama’s book, “The Audacity of Hope,” which laid out his vision for America during his 2008 campaign for the presidency) takes a fascinating and in-depth look at this connection in words and a rich collection of photos.
Here’s an excerpt from Audacity of Hoop:
“Obama would come in for criticism for a kind of ad hoc foreign policy. But if the president’s approach to international relations has a pickup quality – if his backcourt playing style (run the offense, avoid turnovers, get the ball in the right hands at the right time) could be described, like America’s role in the world after the Iraq War, as ‘leading from behind’ – Obama had internalized that posture over a basketball lifetime of temporary alliances and tactical adaptations. In pickup ball, said Claude Johnson of Baller-in-Chief.com, ‘since you never know whose side you’re going to be on the next time around, you’re not interested in destroying teammates.’ You choose teams, then form and re-form them, doing your best with whatever hand you’re dealt to hold court and play another game.”