— Finally, basketball becomes the national pastime.
Either the Democrats win the election and Barack Obama, the 6-1 one-time combo guard for Hawaii's Punahou High School 1979 state basketball champions, becomes president. Or the Republicans win and Sarah Palin, the 5-5 point guard for Alaska's Wasilla High School 1982 state basketball champions, becomes vice president.
Forget JFK's famous touch football on the White House lawn.
We're hoopin', America.
Though I'm quite confident the 6-4 rail splitter, Abe Lincoln, could post either one up and score any time he wanted.
Maybe even the 6-2 Chester A. Arthur. Nah. Though I wouldn't want to go up against Andrew Jackson, who fought off an assassin with his cane. Now, there's a tough commander in chief.
The truth is neither Obama nor Palin was a star in high school, though Obama seems to have become a bit of that wily old veteran as he's worked through his 40's and the lefty — c'mon, what chance would it be this liberal Democrat would come at you from any other direction? — has developed an impressive inside slashing game.
Of course, whether he'll be as adept if he wins at slashing any spending remains very much to be seen.
Back in those high school days, Palin, then Sarah Heath, worked her way off the bench by her senior year as a tough point guard who became known as Sarah Barracuda. Obama, then calling himself Barry in his well publicized search for his own identity, also had a nickname, Barry O'bomber. It seemed the backup guard liked to shoot 'em up. Like I think Vernon Maxwell once said after a particularly dreadful shooting game in missing almost all of 16 shots: "They all felt good leaving my hand."
Which all would have saved us a lot of trouble.
What if Obama just played Palin one-on-one for the right to move onto the next level? That really is the American way, isn't it? C'mon, we know no one much differentiates between Joe Biden and John McCain. Both have spent most of their lives in the U.S. Senate talking. You could say the critics have been wrong. Obama and Palin have been the ones doing as they came the farthest with the least expected of them. They've had to fight their way into these positions rather than wait their turns like loyal party members. There is something to be said for that.
Though when I was a kid Hawaii and Alaska weren't even states.
Of course, when McCain was a kid, Arizona probably wasn't, either.
But I digress.
No one ever knew anyone who came from there, let alone anyone who'd even been there. These are the two people who've raised the most questions in this presidential campaign.
Let them play it off and proclaim a winner because you know the way this election has gone for the last several years, someone's going to try to push it past November's Election Day.
You'd say because Obama is about eight inches taller, seems in better condition and still plays basketball regularly, it would be no contest.
But if you put lipstick on a … Oh, all right, that ones become tiring, too.
There's this story that's made the round about Palin's basketball career in high school, playing a game at which Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev attended. Palin supposedly got into a fight and was rolling around on the ground with an opponent. She became so enraged that she was yelling taunts at Brezhnev like, "you murdering commie….," and "nice eyebrows a….."
Yes, it seems somewhat apocryphal, though you'd have to say that about her candidacy as well.
If she's not afraid of Brezhnev what's the worry about Obama?
If she had to pick someone in basketball whom she's most like, it probably would be Isiah Thomas, the little man who would do anything to win. And did.
This in basketball cliché parlance would be known as heart. But is heart and determination enough to trump superior skill and intelligence?
It seems clear Obama has the edge there.
Obama has played along the campaign trail and already has a game set up for Election Day next month. It's become something of a tradition since the Iowa primary to have a game on voting day to alleviate the tension. Often, basketball playing friends of Obama's from Chicago come in for the games, and they're not your typical schoolyard patsies.
The games lately, though, have been on hold because of the debates.
Yes, Obama is studying, but the campaign, knowing his tendency to try to take the ball to the basket against bigger players, didn't want viewers of one of the three presidential debates looking at a candidate with a broken nose. Who knows what hysterical meaning would be drawn from that.
His game's regulars include Illinois treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who played pro ball in Greece after playing at Boston University, and Chicago schools executive Arne Duncan, who played pro ball in Australia after playing at Harvard. Obama isn't quite at that level, so friends who play in his games say he always makes sure that Reggie Love ends up on his team. Love is the rather large man of about 6-8 you've seen trailing around with Obama through the campaigns, his chief personal aide and bodyguard. Love also was a football and basketball player at Duke and played backup to NBA star Carlos Boozer.
So you'd have to say Obama also might just have a very good eye for staffing. And knowing what he doesn't know and seeking help, as he's said.
Obama's pet move is to the left, as we know, and Palin, though mostly a passer and role player, is occasionally a shooter from the far right over her shoulder. Obama's move is the quick first step left with an occasional reverse right. When he comes back with the spin he's usually trying to score at the basket. Obama will make the quick pass when a teammate is cutting, though he likes to wander the perimeter waiting for the ball and a chance to make a play. Though he's serious about the game and remains so.
For those into numerology, Obama wore No. 23 before it became 23! Yes, he's seemed to have this knack for seeing what's coming. Palin wore No. 22 in high school.
So Obama by a bit?
It's still something we'd all like to see.
OK, South Lawn. Losers sit!
A: Is there anywhere to get a spare foot? Look, a guy has to play. The season means something, too, and for the Rockets to get anywhere — and there are some picking them this season to have the best record in the West — they need Yao despite that great winning streak after he was injured last winter. Yao does average a lot of minutes, more than 37 last season on 300 pounds. But he broke down after 55 games. He's missed an average of 27 games in each of the last three seasons, so if he played any less he'd be in semi-retirement. I'd probably limit his minutes some, but the Rockets aren't an elite team without him. I certainly wouldn't practice him hard, or even very much since he's a student of the game and a committed teammate. Plus, Tracy McGrady misses enough practice time for the whole team. Yao has hanging over him this season whether he returned too soon from surgery not to miss the Olympics in China. Unfortunately for the Rockets, they probably need to let him play and hope.
A: As someone who turned 60 this year, I'm becoming more sympathetic to our aging working population. And as the economy crashed, you'll see more of us not wanting to move out of the way and get down to Scottsdale so fast. Bavetta is a bit too much of a showman, but he keeps in decent shape (not beating Charles Barkley in that race at the 2007 All-Star game didn't help his cause) and seems serious about the job. I see no reason at this point to force retirement on him as I doubt you believe the younger referees in the league are superior.
A: No. If I were running a team, my view would be life is too short to have to put up with Stephon Marbury. His entire career has been marked by one selfish escapade after another. I see no reason to believe he's changed and as a six foot guard who doesn't defend, he's unlikely to make him for his boorish behavior with talent, like Moss can. If you acquire Marbury, you deserve what you get.