Five Things Learned from Barack Obama's Sports Podcast
President Obama granted a sports-themed interview to Bill Simmons, hailed as "ESPN's most popular sports writer," and even though the talk of politics was rare, there were several noticeable exchanges that can lead to political or media analysis. Here are five points.
1. Obama is constantly telling interviewers he has five more years in office. Obama told Simmons it's very likely he'll welcome a world-champion Chicago Bulls team to the White House, because hey, he has five years left:
BS: Over the last five years, how many times have you envisioned welcoming the world champion Chicago Bulls to the White House?
OBAMA: Every year. And it hasn’t happened yet, but it will happen.
BS: It will happen? You’re like Joe Namath — you’re guaranteeing it.
OBAMA: Well, I’ve got another five years here and — [laughter] —
BS: You’re guaranteeing that, too. [Laughter.]
OBAMA: — somewhere along the line my Bulls are going to come through here. Absolutely.
2. Obama lies about not watching network or cable news, and no one notices. Here's where the interview began:
BS: How do you have time to follow sports when you have the busiest job on the planet?
OBAMA: Well, first of all, I don’t watch network news or cable news. So in the morning, when I’m working out with Michelle, it’s on SportsCenter.
Not only is that a ridiculous claim on its face -- like Obama telling Jay Leno he's not watching the Republican primaries -- when George W. Bush suggested to Brit Hume he didn't follow the news on TV, the media had a fit about his ignorance.
3. Obama can boast about beating a woman in a skirt and high heels, and no one notices. When you're a feminist president who only had two children and has a feminist wife, no one minds when you talk about beating a girl on the basketball court because she was dressed like a girl:
OBAMA: And when Maya Moore and the Connecticut Huskies came, we actually went down to my little basket down here and we played a game of HORSE.
BS: You played with them?
OBAMA: Yes, we played a game of HORSE. Now, Maya is always annoyed that I point out that I beat her. She was wearing high heels and a skirt at the time. [Laughter.] So I’m not sure if that counts.
Obama supporters would tell you that he also boasts about how he gets the better out of NBA players (or critics could say he's twice as cocky):
OBAMA: So Chris [Paul] was one of the guys who played. And I did a little crossover on him. He claims that he could have stolen the ball. Everybody who was there knows that that’s not true. The second time, he might have stolen the ball. The first time he didn’t know I had that move on me.
BS: So you surprised him with it?
OBAMA: I did, yes. Yes. My crossover is solid.
BS: Have you noticed that there is a notable difference in the way people defend you, since you became the president, when you’re playing?
OBAMA: No, because I’m always getting knocked around. I don’t know what people are talking about. Reggie Love, my former aide who played at Duke and he’s now getting his MBA, he answered anybody who said that people took it easy on me when they played with me. He said, nobody takes it easy on Obama because if he beats them, they won’t hear the end of it. [Laughter.] And it’s true. I will talk about folks just to make sure that they don’t take it easy on me.
4. Obama can pay tribute to George W. Bush -- for his first pitch after 9/11. Simmons discussed with Obama how difficult it must be to throw out the first pitch at baseball games with a bulletproof vest on. (It's not like we're electing people for whether they can pitch.) Obama paid a little tribute to his predecessor:
OBAMA: I give credit — when I think about George Bush and the pitch he threw —
BS: At 9/11. Post-9/11.
OBAMA: — at 9/11. Unbelievable pitch.
BS: Right down the middle.
OBAMA: Right down the middle. And huge credit for that. I give that guy a lot of props for that one.
BS: And I think Jeter said to him before the game, "Don’t screw this up," or something like that.
OBAMA: That’s exactly what he said. He saw him behind the bullpen and said, "Don’t screw it up." And he didn’t.
5. Bill Simmons is an unbelievable suckup. The evidence is all here in this question:
BS: I pride myself as being a very supportive parent. I go to my daughter’s soccer games. I hit most of them. I try to go to all of them. I can’t go to — I read that you go to every one of your daughter’s basketball games. This can’t be true. How do you go to every basketball game? I feel bad about my own parenting.
Dear Bill: pick your tongue off the blacktop. He'll grant you another interview when he wants to demonstrate his sports-talk prowess.