Obama Disses Michael Jordan: 'Nobody...Is a Bigger Icon Than Magic Johnson'

Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker sympathetically noted that a "battered" President Obama "grew introspective" on his West Coast fundraising tour for Democrats. At NBA legend Magic Johnson's house, Obama said he talked with David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, who's traveling with the president. Obama said Remnick, who was a sports reporter earlier in his career, asked him, “So, what about Magic? What does this mean to you?”

Obama seemed to completely dismiss Michael Jordan and his "hometown" Chicago Bulls by saying there's "nobody" who is a "bigger icon" than Magic:

“You watch this career unfold, and it’s a magical career,” Obama said. “For anybody who loves basketball as much as me, there’s nobody who is a bigger icon than Magic Johnson.”

More than his career on the court, Obama said he admires how Johnson handled his HIV diagnosis with grace and how he leveraged his fame and fortune to build institutions.

“It’s for those two reasons that I’m proud to call Magic Johnson a friend,” Obama said. “Also, keep in mind, the last time Magic played basketball was with me at my 49th birthday party — and I just want to tell you it wasn’t pretty.”

Rucker didn't notice any diss in those remarks -- even though Jordan held a $3 million fundraiser for Obama in New York in 2012. He also simply forwarded the same over-boasting Obama routinely unloads about his grandfather's service in "Patton's army."

The next day, when Obama addressed more than 400 supporters at the SFJazz Center here in San Francisco, he mused about his grandfather serving in the Army under Gen. George S. Patton during World War II and his grandmother working her way up from bank secretary to vice president but then hitting a glass ceiling.


"Serving in" wouldn't be inaccurate, but Obama often says his maternal grandfather "fought in" Patton's army. “My grandfather fought in Patton’s army.” In 2009, AP’s Nancy Benac noted that the president’s grandfather, Stanley Dunham, was in a supply and maintenance company, not in combat. That’s noble work, but “fought in Patton’s army” implies something else. Moreover, Benac reported Dunham’s company was assigned to Patton’s army for two months in 1945, and then quoted Obama’s own self-boosting memoir: “Gramps returned from the war never having seen real combat."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis