Love was mum when asked what other personalities will be featured in future episodes of the show, which is part of the recently launched network’s lineup of original programming.
“Maybe we’ll come over and interview your boss,” he said during a telephone interview last week, to which I replied by asking whether there was any chance Love could get his former boss to agree to do an episode.
“I think there’s a possibility of it,” Love said of a potential walk-and-talk with Obama. “I think he’s probably doing less press these days, but he’s a big sports fan. He follows basketball heavily. He’s a huge White Sox guy, also roots for the Cubs. We’ll see what happens.”
Love, who played basketball and football at Duke and won a title with the Blue Devils’ basketball team in 2001, took a job as a staff assistant in Obama’s Senate office in 2005. It wasn’t long before he became Obama’s bodyman and “chief of stuff,” a role he filled through most of Obama’s first term in the White House. Love wrote a memoir about the experience that came out last year, but he has other stories to tell about Obama’s fandom, including his admiration for North Carolina men’s basketball Coach Roy Williams.
“He loves Roy Williams,” Love said. “It’s sickening how much he loves Roy Williams. I admire Roy and I admire the Carolina program, but I still have these thorns in my sides because [Obama] never visited Duke’s campus.”
Love and Obama exchanged emails in April after Villanova defeated North Carolina in the NCAA championship game on a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Kris Jenkins. When Love questioned Williams’s decision not to pressure the ball full-court on the play that led to Jenkins’s game-winner, Obama was quick to defend his guy.
“He said, ‘Yeah, he didn’t want to foul. I totally understand the call,’ ” Love said of Obama’s reply. “He’s not a guy who is going to tell guys how to do their jobs, but he’s informed about the game. I think for him it’s more about understanding what people’s motives were behind their decisions, as opposed to saying whether they were right or wrong.”
Love, who has played more basketball with Obama than most, offered the following scouting report on the outgoing president, who modeled his game after Tiny Archibald.
“He’ll knock down open shots; he’s got a good midrange ,” Love said. “He’s a strong right driver but likes to come back to his right shoulder to finish because he’s a lefty. He’s very smart. The guy knows the game very well and typically makes the right passes and makes the right rotation on defense. He’s not the most explosive guy, not the fastest guy, but very crafty. I think what he lacks in physical capabilities, he makes up with his intellect.”
As for his first foray into hosting a talk show, Love said he’s known MSN Vice President and General Manager Zach Leonsis for years and, as someone who enjoys getting to learn about people, was intrigued by the opportunity.
“I thought the idea had a lot of merit,” he said. “I think the network has a lot of merit. I think there’s a lot of excess demand in the market that they have an ability to tap into.”
Leonsis’s hope is that original programming such as “The Walk-and-Talk,” “Caps Red Line” and “Wiz Got Next,” as well as subscriber-only events, will entice fans to subscribe to the digital network for $12.99 per month (or a yearly rate of $8.99 per month). Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. will host one of MSN’s first subscriber events Saturday, a “Holiday Mixology Workshop” in which fans will learn to craft a “signature branded cocktail.”