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Goodbye Barack: Obama’s Basketball Fandom Over 8 Years In Office

On November 8th, The United States of America votes to elect a new president. Regardless of who you hope wins, soon after the election we will have to reckon with the fact that this freshly chosen POTUS will not go the extra mile to do the important things: like catch the Warriors game, or double check their fantasy lineup. He or she won’t care about the impending trade deadline or Player Efficiency Ratings of bench warmers coming into Free Agency next summer–and that’s going to make basketball a little less fun for all of us.

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On November 8th, The United States of America votes to elect a new president. Regardless of who you hope wins, soon after the election we will have to reckon with the fact that this freshly chosen POTUS will not go the extra mile to do the important things: like catch the Warriors game, or double check their fantasy lineup. He or she won’t care about the impending trade deadline or Player Efficiency Ratings of bench warmers coming into Free Agency next summer–and that’s going to make basketball a little less fun for all of us.

As a Canadian, I know that many of Barack Obama’s more nuanced political actions have gone unnoticed by the outside world. I doubt if him implementing the “Women’s Owned Business” contracting program or expanding Veterans’ centers in rural areas made front page headlines up here, but even without intimate knowledge of every positive change Obama managed to achieve as commander in chief, I still knew he was a good person. This is because I first saw him playing pickup games with teenagers at campaign stops across America, then with USMC officers in Kuwait, and then with White House employees on Pennsylvania Avenue. Plus he released his NCAA bracket every year, despite his selections being the ridicule of every sports blog and drive time radio show host. So much of what made President Obama personable and electable was the fact that he seemed like a dude you could play with at the YMCA on any given Sunday; the everyman perfected. Finally we had a someone who grew up a hoop purist with presidential pedigree that made you excited to see him elected. A guy who ironically beat NBA Hall of Famer Bill Bradley in 2000 on the way to Washington.

You’ve heard the story: A young, pre-mainland Barry and his Hawaiian contemporaries the Choom Gang spending their lazy afternoons (allegedly) smoking mid 70’s island marijuana and (certainly) honing their basketball skills on the blacktop. Its an origin that is atypically presidential; his contemporaries stereotypically spent their time wearing ties, joining secret societies, and keeping the middle class down (or whatever). Obama instead played ball all through his teen years, taking his playground game all the way to Punahou School’s Varsity squad in his senior year (after fighting through the three JV teams the Honolulu basketball powerhouse used to separate the Kahunas from the Keikis). The young man earned minutes off the bench during his team’s championship run, despite the program favoring those who played a “whiter” brand of ball than the 17 year old Barack did. An outlier even then.

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Skipping ahead a whopping 38 years; Obama is now entering the last months of his second term serving as the first African-American president of the United States, and he’s doing it with the same quiet prestige that the humble greats like Bill Russell or Tim Duncan did before him. I don’t mean to knock any former presidents, but frankly, the smiles have been bigger across the faces of many NBA Champions visiting The White House since Obama took office. Many of these players have had an instant connection with the Commander In Chief through race, class and most importantly–hoops.

Kobe Bryant broke it down after his first time meeting the president, saying “I spent time with President Bush as well, but you know President Obama’s knowledge about the game is a little bit more extensive.” To feel like you’ve got an ally running your country and keeping an eye on your profession must be an incredible thing. In this, the age of awakening for many athletes concerned with social justice and equality, Obama’s stances and support are a welcomed inspiration and a beacon of hope for change.

Beyond the gates of the White House, Obama has expressed interest in owning part of an NBA franchise. Washington Post’s Greg Jaffe reported “potentially, if the opportunity arose, under the right circumstances.” But perhaps the President’s trepidation is only a result of his team the Chicago Bulls’ track record over the past few years. If D-Rose still had knees and was still in Bulls uniform dunking over tall Europeans in March you could bet Obama would more than “potentially” want to be involved, maybe as Chicago’s GM. He would be the complete physical and moral opposite of Jerry Krause. Think about it, “GM Obama” just has a certain ring to it.

So, all hail the basketball president: The first POTUS of our generation to reflect the interests we hold dear, to inspire excitement and change in NBA champions and regular civilians alike. All hail the left handed Hawaiian with the meanest YMCA game to ever grace the Oval Office, the one who deserved both a track pant sponsorship and a more cooperative senate. Bid farewell to the transplanted Chicago kid who dreamt about making political change, achieving presidency, and owning a stake in his hometown heroes.

On behalf of basketball fans everywhere, thank you Barry.

Wish us luck on November 8th.

Avery is a standup comedian and writer based in Calgary, Alberta. He first turned to writing after losing his jump shot in a tragic accident involving not playing basketball for six straight summers. His op-ed pieces about the NBA's most polarizing figures have been a reliable source of sighs, scoffs and subtweets. Avery has a passion for character issues, ill-advised fadeaways, throwback jerseys and any basketball player who keeps his chains on during pregame shoot-around.

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Featured Article

Ride The Wave

Back in October the sky was the limit. LeBron had decided to move to LA and join the Lakers. Things were good then.

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Back in October the sky was the limit. LeBron had decided to move to LA and join the Lakers, drawing in a decent support team and a lot of talk that the West was looking incredibly dominant next to a “weaker” East. Things were good then.

Five months later and things couldn’t be farther from that idylistic picture. The East thrived without the King and GMs put together some of the most noteworthy teams in a while. And the Lakers? The Lakers currently sit in the 11th spot of the Western Conference with very little hope of making it to the playoffs. They’re a team that is constantly attacked for their lack of chemistry, skill, and effort. For the first time in a long time, LA became synonymous with “hopeless”.

This wasn’t the future we saw for the King.

On the heels of a night filled with one of his greatest achievements ever, the Lakers as a team walked away with a loss to the Denver Nuggets. A night that began on a high note went out on one that was equivalent to sour candy. Furthermore, a frustrated team left an arena, hopped on social media, and found a bevy of congrats for their star player, while enduring the storm that came with another Lakers loss.

It seems that James’ stardom has reached a tipping point, one that makes him a GM one moment, the King of the league the next, and finally the biggest point of contention within the locker room. The most notable thing is that it is clearly wearing him down. Chris Martin let us know that “nobody one said it was easy”, but you’ve got to ask yourself, does it have to be so hard?

The answer is unfortunately, yes. It’s always going to be this way, and there is no fighting the current, but there is beauty in riding the wave. Embracing that moment when the wave comes crashing down on you is important, because it’s always going to happen, but your attitude will always be remembered. LeBron rides high, and keeps things in the positive light for the media, but he’s got to realize that they are writing his story, and he doesn’t have to play into their’s. Ride the wave, and take the loss in stride with all the great that has come with it, but take the loss because your part of a team that is.

The wave has crashed down, but the current will bring another.

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Year 15 | A Mini Documentary

Year 15 of a legacy…

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What’s to come for the man on top, and what got him here?

It’s Year 15 of a man’s career, but it’s also Year 15 of a legacy…

Created by Tristan Laughton | Twitter: @Ctrice

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Editorial

Something Out of Nothing

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It’s March 2016, and I’m driving with Alan Shane Lewis to Montreal to meet with Marc Griffin and Phil Boileau. We’re meeting to speak about this exciting new idea I pitched to them. We were tired of spinning the wheels on our own individual internet shows, and I told them that it was time we stopped waiting for a network and became the network.

We spoke that weekend about creating a community of content creators that all loved ball and came together to make unique content with unique voices – voices we felt were never heard in the mainstream. This community was the base of Press and we’d continue to push forward from that spot. We spoke about some amazing show ideas, article ideas, social media plan. It was truly an exciting time, and still one of the best weekends of my life.

Two years later and that group is a lot smaller, and that idea is Press Basketball.

It caught fire at the beginning and we had people joining our bright shiny new plaything left, right, and center. It was exciting, but now I kind of realize that a lot of it was just that we were that “bright shiny new thing”.

We ended up with a lot of Press Basketball “members” but when I stepped back and looked at what was happening… it wasn’t what I’d imagined. The fire burned out. The idea was gone. We had just become another thing trying to stay alive, waiting for some deus ex machina to show up with money and make everything okay.

I’ve gone through most of my life making something out of nothing. It’s never easy, but when it happens it’s always worth it… ALWAYS. Press made me feel alive at a point. It was literally all I could think about, and while it still is on my mind, it doesn’t make me feel alive. This hurts more than I can ever explain.

Changes are coming my friends. We’re not laying down and dying, and if we do it’s not going to be like this.

The core of Press will be setting fire to a lot over the next few weeks and I personally can’t wait for this to start. From the ashes something new will rise (I watched a lot of XMEN growing up).

Stay tuned, because it’s not over.

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