Friday, August 17, 2007
Barack Obama and the Art of the Finger Roll
Barak Obama's basketball skills have gotten some coverage recently after a NY Times article shined light on his love for playground ball. This morning I came across a blog post at the Sports Review Magazine quoting a former coach of Obama as saying the slim 6'3" lefty guard was "a George Gervin-type" player who led Occidental College in scoring in 1979. Hmmm, sounds like it's time to set the record straight.
As an alumnus of Occidental and an unabashed fan of Obama's, I had never heard that he was the team's leading scorer. In fact, in "Dreams From My Father" he doesn't mention playing basketball at Oxy at all. I emailed Oxy's head basketball coach, Brian Newhall, who was a freshman at Oxy in 1979 - so he overlapped "Barry" for that one year. Coach Newhall said that Obama never played varsity basketball at Oxy. "My recollection is that Barry played in open gym pre-season pick up games and then chose not to continue. Various stories have been floating around. My memory is bad, but I do not remember him playing on our JV team."
I also heard from Oxy's Sports Information Director who said that no records exist linking Obama to the Occidental basketball team.
That settles that. No love lost here, though. Since leaving Occidental, Obama has balled everywhere from a prison in Massachusetts to army bases in the Middle East to Chicago's South Side to high-priced health clubs. If he can just come up with a coherent Middle East strategy, solve the health care crisis and balance the Fed's books then he'll prove himself to be the most well-rounded baller in the history of the game.