April 25th, 2008
10:00 AM ET
6 years ago

Indiana and North Carolina: Where basketball and politics meet

Former UNC center Eric Montross was a big backer of John Edwards' White House bid.
Former UNC center Eric Montross was a big backer of John Edwards' White House bid.

(CNN) - The pageantry, the emotion, the packed gymnasiums - basketball fanatics in Indiana and North Carolina have seen it all before.

Democrats in both primary states are beaming about their newfound roles in this extended nomination contest, but long after the bumper stickers and campaign buttons are packed away, and when the awkward sports metaphors are nothing but distant memories, Hoosiers and Tar Heels will always have that familiar sound of sneaker-on-hardwood to fall back on.

Still, with politics and hoops now crossing paths, a handful of basketball icons have become caught in the moment, stepping off the court to endorse presidential candidates this cycle.

Here's a quick look at which basketball celebrities from North Carolina and Indiana have weighed in on the 2008 race, according to Federal Election Commission data and news reports.

NORTH CAROLINA

Where else to start but with University of North Carolina legend Michael Jordan? The careful capitalist once sought to avoid politics, declaring in 1990 that "Republicans buy sneakers, too." But the greatest player of all time apparently leans Democratic - he has contributed $2,100 to another gym rat, Barack Obama.

Jordan's college coach, the vaunted Dean Smith, kept his money close to Chapel Hill this primary season, maxing out his contributions to former North Carolina senator John Edwards. Former UNC center Eric Montross (remember him?) also gave $4,600 to Edwards.

Edwards, a UNC law school alumnus and Tar Heel fan, has been spotted at a few North Carolina basketball games since leaving the race.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, a longtime Republican, has yet to officially weigh in on the race, but he has been spotted with John McCain. In 2006, Coach K - who is also the head coach of the men's U.S. national team - invited the Arizona senator to speak to the basketball squad about his experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

Former Duke stars Shane Battier and Grant Hill are both Obama backers - each has maxed out their primary donations to the Illinois senator.

No high-profile alumni from the Tobacco Road powerhouses of Wake Forest and North Carolina State appear to have contributed campaign cash to a presidential candidate this cycle.

As for the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats, the team's owner is BET mogul Bob Johnson, a high-profile Hillary Clinton backer.

INDIANA

Indiana University legend Calbert Cheaney, a native of Evansville, has endorsed Obama and is campaigning for him in the state. His legendary coach at Indiana, Bobby Knight, hasn't weighed in during the current cycle, but he was a George W. Bush donor in 2004.

NBA star Greg Oden, who played high school ball in Indianapolis and was named Indiana's Mr. Basketball in 2006, endorsed Obama earlier this year on his blog, saying, "He is a very nice man and I am a big fan."

Notre Dame alum and current Chicago Bulls general manager John Paxson gave $500 to Edwards.

Mel and Herb Simon, co-owners of the Indiana Pacers, each contributed $4,600 to Clinton's campaign. Mel Simon also gave $4,600 to Bill Richardson, and Herb Simon gave $2,300 to Chris Dodd.

Indiana basketball icons like French Lick native Larry Bird and former Purdue coach Gene Keady have not weighed in on the presidential race. Nor have voters heard from Hoosier heroes Keith Smart or Steve Alford, who are probably content to keep their sterling legacies intact among Indiana fans.

What do these endorsements mean? Given the track record of celebrity endorsements this election cycle, probably not much. At least not until Serge Zwikker, Randolph Childress and Tom Coverdale weigh in.

– CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby


Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (134 Responses)
  1. StevePam

    Youtube Hillary Clinton Peter Paul

    April 25, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  2. david goldman for OBAMA

    GO HOOSIERS GO.

    GO INDIANA GO & GIVE US OBAMA.

    MUCH LOVE TO YOU.

    April 25, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  3. Jordan

    If Obama wins NC and Indiana will Billary finaly let it go???

    April 25, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  4. JacknJill

    In PA it was the old bags and racist bigots that put Hillary first.
    Everyone else with open hearts, and open minds and intellect beyond the 1960's can see Obama's promise of Hope for our country.
    These PA folks are still in the '60's.

    April 25, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  5. Mimi De La Cruz for OBAMA

    SISTERS GO OUT THERE & VOTE FOR OBAMA.

    VOTE FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR CHILDREN.

    THAT FUTURE IS NOT IN IRAQ WHERE HILLARY SENT THEM.

    April 25, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  6. mjaber

    Clinton has no chance of winning

    April 25, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  7. Linda

    I am a repubican who has become energized to particpate in the process for the first time by Barack.

    Unfortunately by their actions during this primary process, the Clintons have tarnished thier legacy and sadly HRC's amibition to become president will never materialize.

    April 25, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  8. FAYE MOGHTADER

    I THINK THE REALITY OF THE POLITICS IS GOING TO WIN,AND NEGATIVE CAMOAIGN FOR SIMPLE FOLKS WITH NO EDUCATION
    ALWAYS WORKS. MANY SIMPLE MINDED PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY STILL THINK THAT WE WENT TO THIS WAR,BANK RUPTED THE COUNTRY.4000 DEATHS BECAUSE WE WERE DEFENDING UNITED STATE FROM ANOTHE TERRORIST ATTACK.
    THESE PEOPLE DO NOT UNTERSTAND NAFTA,ECONOMY,OBAMA MUST REMIND THEM OF THE CLINTONS LIES,AND SCANDELS THAT OCCUPY HIS PRESIDENCY,AND RESPECT FOR THIS OFFICE.MAYBE THEY COULD UNDESTAND THAT.
    FAY MOGHTADE, FROM VA

    April 25, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  9. IU for Obama

    Hoosiers are too smart to listen to Hillary's negative campaign attacks. It will end here!

    April 25, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  10. Hillary supporter

    I saw Magic Johnson on TV and he was supporting Hillary–just as much influence and star power as Jordan–so there!

    April 25, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  11. Kay-Arizona

    Just look at the dynamics of these endorsements and you have to laugh. All male, sports teams. CNN this is a new low for you.

    April 25, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  12. David Tshil

    H Clinton claims of more popular votes is just another example of how dishonest she is. She ignores the DNC rules for FLD and MCHG just because by doing so it gives her some advantage. She can destroy the DP, she doesn't care. She is selfish and untrustworthy

    April 25, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  13. Trish- PA

    I am so disgusted with this whole mess. The media keeps focusing on Rev. Wright when that horrid monster of a woman is about to go to court. Where is the coverage of Clinton Vs. Paul?? For God's sakes, people, she can't even manage her own campaign! Oh yes, please, let's elect this woman to fix our health care. She doesn't even pay her own employee's health insurance! what is wrong with everyone!! Hillary Clinton and her dishonest, disloyal, snaky skank of a lying racist husband are the bottom of the filth barrel of this country. The skum that rests in my toilet tank. God help us if she steals, lies and cheats her way into the nomination. I have no faith in the American people anymore after this election. I have never seen such a bunch of idiots in my life.

    April 25, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  14. Tania

    Well , Johnny Boy has it ever occured to you that Ohio and PA are the smart ones.
    This is a democratic process and should run it's course.
    So far Obama has not done well enough to emerge as the winner and that is dispite outspending any other candidate.

    April 25, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  15. GG, Dallas, TX

    Ha ha ha, Johnny Boy! Give it up. NOBAMA! Talk about a lying, racist, elitist liar!!

    GO McCAIN!!! Which, of course, we know you will. NOBAMA cannot beat McCain even IF he get the dems nomination. Give it up.

    April 25, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  16. Hillary The True Leader!

    NC is Nascar Country and will vote for HILLARY!!!!!!!

    April 25, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  17. Debbie

    Good, lets see if Hillary will get hooped.

    April 25, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  18. Floyd Crisp

    Someone please stop the madness! Clinton, Obama one or the other will be the next president. It is obvious that as long as these two keep being pitted against each other, over ridiculously trivial political fodder, unrest and insecurity will reign supreme in the democratic party. Carville or however you spell his name was correct the other day when he implied that no one cares or needs to care about what he or any of the other pundits have to say. It is time for serious conversation about serious issues that will affect our country's future. All of the candidates need to get control over there organizations and get back to clean, issue based debate to win my vote! And as a side note , the media, and pseudo-media like Glenn Beck and others need to get back to work in their professions vice trying to force feed America their misinformed, narrow and somewhat idiotic viewpoints.

    April 25, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  19. nathan

    Policy matters! I'm pretty objective, if obama could explain what he will do once he was president, give more detail about his policy on health insurance, foreign policy, how to develop the economy, i could vote for him! If he can't give specific details, then he isnot ready!

    April 25, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  20. Andrew

    For anyone that doesn't think people in Indiana will vote for Obama just because he is a baller, think again. This alone is worth 1 or 2 points at least, which in this primary, could be the difference. Hoosiers are obsessed with basketball to a level that is simply not seen anywhere else. Per capita, Indiana has sent more players to the NBA than any other state.

    April 25, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  21. Tim

    Don't worry, Obama will get the nomination a couple days after May 6. Even if Hillary wins Indiana. The supers will rush to Obama due to the fact that he is winning most states, most swing states, popular vote, has over 70% of young voters which are most of the new voter registrations, bringing in Independents and Republicans.

    The race is over, Hillary loses. The End

    April 25, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  22. Caleb Dupree

    I'm tired of people talking down on Hillary! Obama and his campaign have been extremely negative towards Hillary and have turned most of his supporters into HATERS!! How's that for the politics of change?

    I think Obama is a politician like the rest. Has everybody fooled. But I tell you this much, if he wins and gets into the white house, I'm holding him up to his message which is bogus anyways.

    April 25, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  23. ChicoSez

    So if someone votes for Clinton, they're stupid, undeducated, racist, foolish, etc etc and only the Obama backers are wise enough, smart enough, educated enough to be able to see whats really best for America and everybody else should just shut up. If that isn't elitest BS I don't know what is. Thats why so many dem are going to leave the party over the foul attitudes that permiate the Obama camp. Hillary isn't splitting the party, your driving away Obama's only chance of victory and you have no one to blame but yourselfs. Although you'll blame everybody else but your precious darling Barack.

    April 25, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  24. Ilona Proud Canadian

    KB & Johnny Boy,

    Google......... rcp average.....This is an average of anywhere from three to eight polls..... Obama is ahead by 3% points

    Good Luck

    April 25, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  25. Angel for Obama

    Obama is going to take Indiana I feel. He has more endorsements. Yes it's a dissapointment for PA and OH voters that didn't give Obama a chance. Hilary is not the blue collar figure making 100 billion with her husband in 8 yrs. But the peopel in OH and PA that gave Obama a chance congrads to you and YES WE CAN

    Obama 08 enough said.

    April 25, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.