The Washington Post

President Obama talks sports with ESPN’s Bill Simmons

President Obama blames his predecessor for an economic recession and an untimely conflict in Iraq, but there’s one area where the 44th president pays homage to George W. Bush: on the athletic field.

In an interview with ESPN’s Bill Simmons, Obama said he admired the perfect-strike, ceremonial first pitch Bush threw at Yankee Stadium shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

“Unbelievable pitch,” Obama told Simmons, host of the “B.S. Report” podcast. “Right down the middle. And huge credit for that. I give that guy a lot of props for that one.”

Obama recalled the first time he threw a ceremonial pitch, during a minor league game in Illinois before he was president, when he grounded the throw before it reached home plate.

“It is about the most stressful thing,” he said.

Not that the First Fan hasn’t had a few brag-worthy moments of his own on the playing field. During the interview, Obama boasted about swishing a three-point shot in front of 3,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, besting women’s basketball player Maya Moore (who was wearing a skirt and high heels) in HORSE at the White House, and fooling all-star NBA guard Chris Paul on a crossover dribble during a pickup game.

“He claims that he could have stolen the ball,” Obama said. “Everybody who was there knows that that’s not true. The second time, he might have stolen the ball. The first time he didn’t know I had that move on me.”

“So you surprised him with it?” Simmons replied.

“I did, yes,” Obama said. “My crossover is solid.”

The president also tells the “Sports Guy” that he knew New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin was destined to become a good player because of some Harvard connections. Listen to the whole interview here.

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.


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