President Obama's Pick-Up Basketball Days at Harvard

Published by Claire K. Dailey on September 30, 2012 at 3:12AM

With his in-depth report of Barack Obama ballin' on the FBI basketball courts, Michael Lewis, who shadowed the President for six months, inspired us to do some digging into Obama’s past pick-up career. Described as “the trash-talker with a left-handed jump shot” by NPR, Obama has now transformed his ‘trash-talk’ into some of the most eloquent speeches given in American history. Will Obama’s loud mouth come out in his upcoming debates against Mitt Romney? What other parts of his game has the Commander in Chief incorporated into his presidency?

In a Dallas Morning News article comparing the two 2012 presidential candidates, Obama’s former classmate, Hill Harper, said, “If there was any knock against Barack, he pulled his socks up a little too high and his shorts were a little too small.” Well, we think (and hope) that the President’s style has definitely improved with time and a White House stylist. Although the image of Obama knocking back jump shots at Hemenway Gym in ’80’s style gear is still pretty awesome.

While at Harvard Law School, Obama played for the Black Law Students’ Association. In one of the team’s scheduled games, the President was starting at center against the opposing squad from Wapole prison. Obama reportedly asked an inmate what got him to Wapole, and he received the reply, “Double murder.” The President ex’d his signature jump-shot-trash-talk combo. It seems that even the future leader of the free world can be shaken by an intimidating opponent. Maybe Mitt should take some notes.

The President’s opponents have ranged from inmates to Secretary of Education and former captain of the Harvard basketball team Arne Duncan. One aspect of Obama’s game has remained the same, and that is his love for a challenge. In all his time on the basketball court, whether it be with Washington elites or other HLS students at Hemenway, the President does not like to have others take it easy on him. Lewis was told, when he himself was participating in one of Obama’s pick-up games, that if anyone  did not play hard, he was not asked to play again.

Even though Obama’s love of basketball has moved from Hemenway to the FBI, its intensity has stayed the same.