SBD/Issue 67/Sports & Society

NBA May Help Obama Install Basketball Court At White House

Obama May Replace White House
Bowling Alley With Basketball Court

NBA officials have contacted members of President-elect Barack Obama's transition team "to offer their services in installing a regulation [basketball] court at the White House," according to Amy Chozick of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. There currently is a "tiny outdoor court at the White House adjacent to the tennis court on the southwest side," but Obama during the campaign said that he "planned to replace the White House bowling alley ... with an indoor basketball court." Obama has "hired a team of cabinet members and aides with serious basketball backgrounds," and Obama's staffers indicated that "many of them are planning for regular court time" with Obama. NBA Commissioner David Stern said if there is an "upgrading of the basketball facilities at the White House, you can be assured that the NBA and the players will be there." Chozick notes whether bowling "stays or goes, it is clearly basketball's moment." Basketball fans outside Obama's inner circle are "clamoring for the chance to join a White House game." Howard Univ. basketball coach Gil Jackson said, "The big buzz is pickup. People are already posturing as to how they'll get in on those games. Myself included." Chozick notes requests for pickup games are "expected to go through White House chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel's office." Emanuel, or someone on his staff, "would screen the requests," and Obama would get the chance to "assemble his own weekly games." Meanwhile, Wizards Owner Abe Pollin has "extended an open invitation to Mr. Obama to sit in on team practices, attend Wizards games in the owner's box and play pickup ball at the Verizon Center with Mr. Obama's circle of regulars or with team members" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/19).

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