Barack Obama, or should I say Barack O’Balla, has won millions of fans across America (and even all the way over here in Australia) on his historic road to the presidency, and probably a few extra fans on the hardwood thanks to his balling ways. Just today the US President was officially invited to the All-Star game in Phoenix to participate in the Skills Challenge. Ok just joking. But he was invited along, and as far back as I can remember this would be the only All-Star game where balling fans around the world would actually care if the President attended. That’s no knock on Bush or Clinton. Just a mere result of having a president watching from the stands who would probably be more comfortable handling the rock in the All-Star Celebrity Game (in all seriousness, could you imagine how cool it would be if Obama played in that game? I think world peace would be solved instantly)
So while the fans and coaches have voted for their All-Star teams, we wondered just who Barack Obama might pick for his own Presidential All-Star team? Thankfully, Obama has answered this question for us. His inauguration speech inspired millions around the world, but what the president probably doesn’t know, is that it also inspired his own All-Obama team.
All-Obama Coach: Doc Rivers
Surely this is a sentiment that all Boston Celtics coaches have shared since 1986 – the last Boston team to win an NBA championship before the 2007/08 season. The number of high quality coaches – even for NBA standards – that the Celtics have used is staggering. The first and most obvious is the great Red Auerbach, who’s legacy as the greatest coach of all time is currently being tested by Phil Jackson. Following from Auerbach was his franchise player Bill Russell who won two NBA Championships after a year’s absence giving the Celtics ten NBA championships in eleven years. The Celtics have also boasted two other multiple championship coaches for the franchise – Tom Heinsohn and K.C. Jones – as well as a championship with Bill Fitch, who was in the NBA.com’s list of the ten best coaches in NBA history. No doubt Doc Rivers is mindful of this rich Celtic ancestry, and humbled by the mammoth task that lies ahead of him: bringing Boston its second straight NBA Championship.
All-Obama Center: Eddy Curry
Our resident Knicks fan Tizzle wrote a very good and timely article on Eddie Curry recently, and the above quotation from Obama’s inauguration speech truly resonates with the struggles facing the big Knick himself. Often wearing the bunt of the blame for his team’s shortcomings, sometimes fairly, sometimes not, but mostly just misunderstood, the challenges that lie ahead for Eddy Curry will certainly not be met easily in a short span of time. I’ll leave it to Tiz to do him justice in a blog worthwhile reading. Eddy Curry: Bruised but never broken.
All-Obama Forward: LeBron James
There are very few athletes in any sport who are truly worthy of the term “God-given” when describing their talents. Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu is one, the Tigers Matthew Richardson is another, but Lebron James takes it to another level. Physically impressive and skillfully dominant, not even Michael Jordan had the “God-given” gifts that Lebron possesses. And thanks to a Cleveland front office that bowed to Lebron’s demands to “get me better players”, the likes of Mo Williams, Ben Wallace, Delonte West and Wally Sczerbiak are all, along with Lebron, now pursuing their “full measure of happiness”.
The perplexing thing about Lebron James is that despite his freakish physical assets, his selflessness is unflappable. When defenders converge on the almighty King you can be rest assured he will find his open teammates. In his eyes, a Wally Sczerbiak or Daniel Gibson three is just as worthy as a shot taken by himself. Think of it as Lebron James’ own promise that “all are equal”.
All-Obama Forward: Kobe Bryant
This part of Obama’s speech reminded me instantly of that Jordan advertisement, ‘Maybe its my fault’. I was also reminded of a quote I read in a transcript from Jim Rome’s radio show earlier in the year. Rome told the story of when he saw Kobe at a restaurant late one Saturday night a couple of summers ago, and asked Kobe if he’d join him for a drink. Kobe said that he couldn’t because he had to get to the gym. Yep, 9pm on a Saturday night, during the off-season. “I don’t feel right if I miss a day’s workout, that’s just me. I feel like I cheated myself if a day goes by and I don’t workout.”
Kobe’s work ethic is unparalleled, he is studious in his preparation. Check out his gym workout and a similar ad to the Jordan one as before. No one works harder than Kobe. No one understands that greatness is never a given more than Kobe. And right now, no one is earning that greatness more than Kobe Bryant.
All-Obama Guard: Stephon Marbury
Not even his own team is selecting Stephon Marbury in their lineup, so it might seem puzzling he gets a jersey in the All-Obama team. But the above quote from Obama’s inauguration speech reminded me too much of Steph. We’ve all heard Stephon Marbury whine about his game, his team, that he’s “going back to being Starbury”, and then the clear outcome that he wasn’t. The Knicks and coach D’Antoni finally grew tired of his attitude and his ego and the “stale arguments that had consumed them for so long”. They completely shut him out; those arguments no longer apply. And you know what? As much as this sounds stupid, I think if he was to go play in a quality team like Boston, he could just turn it around. This coming from the guy leading the anti-Marbury bandwagon.
All-Obama Guard: Rajon Rondo
This quote fittingly encapsulates Rajon Rando – both his unselfish point-guard abilities and his standing amongst the towering Big Three of Boston. Rondo is a player of ‘heart’. His ability to come up with a hustle play – whether it be a steal, an assist, a dunk on a Piston’s head or just a WOW play; Rondo has a remarkable ability to re-ignite his team. He does it all, all the small stuff, the one-percenters. He’s been an absolute workhorse this season, notably resulting in an NBAMate ‘Man of the Hour Award‘ back in December, and was a strong All-Star candidate until a shaky last month or so. He’s improved on every single statistic from last season (except for TOs) and was instrumental in the Celtics historic start to the season. While Boston’s success may depend on the Big Threes gross product, it is the guiding hand of Rondo that extends opportunities to every willing player on that Celtics team. All for the common good of winning another Championship.
All-Obama 6th Man: Shaquille O’Neal
No longer an average center labeled too old, too slow and too set in his primitive ways, O’Neal has come back from the depths of mediocrity to be named an All-Star once again. Armed with a new nickname Shaqovich due to his increased free throw percentage, and a reinvigorated physical shape, O’Neal has been a dominant beast this season. The debate of who belongs in the Top Three centers in the league is alive again, Shaq’s name back where it belongs with Yao, Howard and of course the Aussie Andrew Bogut. He’s picked himself up, dusted himself off, and now begins the work of remaking the Phoenix Suns. Good luck with that Shaq.
There it is, the All-Obama team. A lineup balancing the power and force of the NBA’s superstars with the fragility of those who travel its more troubled grounds. A team that reminds us of what great feats have been achieved, and what unrealised potential lies ahead. A team worthy of the message delivered by President Barack Obama on his day of inauguration.
Written by Jobba and Robd