President Obama’s got game. The campaigning incumbent hit Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers on Wednesday to catch basketball stars Carmelo Anthony, Kyrie Irving, Patrick Ewing, Sheryl Swoopes and Joe Johnson in action – and he was expected to shoot some hoops while he was at it.
Obama was joined at the sports complex on the Hudson by NBA legend Michael Jordan for the culmination of sporty activities and fund-raising the president’s team dubbed the Obama Classic. The president and Jordan were the guests of honor at the big finish, a $20,000-per-person dinner that was expected to raise more than $3 million for Obama’s second run at the White House.
The president’s performance on the court, however, was not open to evaluation by members of the media, as that part of the evening’s proceedings, as well as the pricey dinner, were closed to the press.
Earlier, Obama swung by Lincoln Center in Manhattan to give a speech to some 120 people gathered for a dinner at Alice Tully Hall. Among them were Jordan, Ewing, Walt “Clyde” Frazier and NBA Commissioner David Stern, as well as Education Secretary Arne Duncan, whom the president noted was “an outstanding basketball player in his own right.”
Saluting the big players in the house, Obama said, “This is my dream team.” He also got in a dig about headline-grabbing GOP Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin, who became the wrong kind of famous with his comment on Sunday that women’s bodies somehow protect against potential pregnancy resulting from “legitimate rape.” “The interesting thing here is that this, this is an individual who sits on the House Committee on Science and Technology but somehow missed science class,” he said.
Obama also called up and repeated some familiar campaign-trail refrains, knocking his presumptive rival Mitt Romney’s economic plan, which he claimed was “to give everyone in this room [upper-class citizens] a tax cut. The fact of the matter is we can’t afford it.”
Instead, he emphasized investing in education, health care and the nation’s infrastructure as action items that Romney as president would leave off his list.
In finishing his speech, Obama kept his eye on the evening’s theme, saying, “I can’t resist a basketball analogy. WE are in the fourth quarter. We’re up by a few points, but the other side is coming strong and they play a ittle dirty.”
Recruiting Jordan for his cause, Obama said, “nobody knows better than Michael that if you’ve got a little bit of a lead and there’s about seven minutes to go, that’s when you put them away.”