annual trip to the White House into more than a photo op. It’s fair to say that whoever takes the oath of office in January 2017 will not be nearly as big a basketball fan as Obama.President Barack Obama has opted to make basketball a large part of his public image, enough so that a well regarded sportswriter was able to put together a book about it. Obama is a regular presence at games at both the college and pro levels and has turned the NBA champion’s
[Follow Dunks Don’t Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]
Unless, that is, Democratic nominee hopeful Bernie Sanders has not widely publicized what is really his own rabid basketball fandom. Cameras caught Sanders shooting baskets after his win in the New Hampshire primary last week, and it now looks as if the Vermont senator was once a regular at a Burlington pickup game. From Les Carpenter for The Guardian:
“Give me da bawwwwwwl!” shouts Clem Nilan, one of the game’s participants, doing his best impersonation of Sanders on the court.
They laugh when they watch him on the debates. For the Sanders everyone sees now speaking with his arms, flailing his hands and waggling an index finger is the same one they recall from those long ago Wednesdays angling stork-like for rebounds and barking for passes. […]
“He wasn’t very fast.”
“He was crafty.”
“He had good elbows.”
“From mid-range, 10-15 feet he could kill you.”
“He sort of liked to be in charge, so there really nothing different in that,” laughs David Sharpe, the auto mechanic who ran his own shop in those days and is now a Vermont state legislator. “He would direct traffic and tell us who was goofing off.” […]
“You didn’t want to run into Bernie because you would get an elbow,” Borger says. “Not intentional, but he would come down hard.”
Sanders does not appear to have a regular pickup game now, although Carpenter writes that he did show up announced during a rare reunion for the old group three or four years ago. Perhaps we’re not dealing with an Obama-like basketball nut.
However, we can still read into Sanders’s game for insight into his personality. While there is no indication that the self-avowed democratic socialist always goes left off the dribble, the description of a craft and combative presence seems to fit a lifelong public servant whose pursuit of justice often gets in the way of the approachability many voters like to see from presidential candidates. His midrange prowess makes sense, too — it’s fitting that an unreconstructed leftist would support a style of another era that neoliberalism advanced metrics say is too inefficient for the modern game.
We look forward to hearing about other candidates’ basketball fandom in the future. Early indications are that the Republican field is full of unrepentant gunners.
– – – – – – –