February 14th, 2014
03:06 PM ET
9 months ago

Obama talks a little health care, a lot of hoops in NBA All-Star Game interview

Updated 9:00pm, February 16th

(CNN) –  President Barack Obama praised a football player for revealing he’s gay and took ownership of the term “Obamacare” in a wide-ranging interview with TNT sports analyst and former hoops star Charles Barkley before Sunday's 63rd NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans.

Obama said he respects Michael Sam, a former college football player who announced he is gay last week during interviews with ESPN and the New York Times, for making the announcement before the NFL draft.

"I really like the fact that Michael did it before the draft because his attitude was, 'You know what? I know who I am. I know I can play great football. Judge me on the merits,’" Obama said.

The President, Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama sent tweets of encouragement for Sam.

Barkley also asked the President about the Affordable Care Act and whether he minds the term ‘Obamacare,’ given all the criticism of the law.

"I like it. I don't mind. And I tell you, in five years from now when everybody's saying, 'Man, I'm sure glad we got health care,' there are going to be a whole bunch of people who don't call it Obamacare anymore because they don't want me to get the credit," Obama said.

But the interview didn’t cover only serious matters. Obama also talked basketball.

Still a hometown man, Obama said Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan "will always be the guy for me."

But in the same breath, Obama said he believes LeBron James of the two-time defending World Champion Miami Heat has what it takes to become an all-time great.

"You know LeBron, I know LeBron. When you're standing next to him and then you watch him close up - I've never seen somebody that size, that fast, who can jump that high, who's that strong, who has that much basketball savvy all in one package," Obama said in the interview that was recorded Thursday and aired Sunday before the game.

"Now, I'm a Chicago guy, and Mike will always be the guy for me, just because that was a magical moment for the city, and he was a champion, but Mike's now retired," he said.

"LeBron, when you look at him, you might think he might be able to play at a high level for another seven, eight, 10 years. He's only 29 years old. In terms of every aspect of the game, LeBron has the chance to be as good as anybody."

Obama welcomed James and the Heat to the White House last month to congratulate them on a second-straight NBA championship.

Even then, the President couldn't resist putting in a plug for his hometown team.

"They won a team record 66 games," Obama said while praising the Heat's 2013 season. "At one point, they won 27 games straight - the second-longest winning streak ever. Extraordinarily impressive."

Then Obama quipped: "Almost as impressive as the Bulls' 72-win season."

Widely known as an avid basketball player, Obama also touched on how often he’s able to hit the court nowadays.

“It's probably once a month. You know, things happen,” Obama said.

“One is, you just get a little older and creakier. The second thing is, you've got to start thinking about things like elbows and you break your nose right before a State of the Union address."

CNN's Greg Clary, Dana Davidsen and Matthew Hoye contributed to this report.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. rla

    Too bad he can't pick ambassadors!!!

    February 14, 2014 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  2. Tampa Tim

    The Magic was 60-22 in 1996, second to the Bulls. That darn Michael Jordan, just kidding.

    February 14, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  3. Stuffitu

    I compare Obama to Caligula,Neville chamberlain, Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini and O J Simpson, as well as Benedict Arnold. And he comes out as very similar.

    February 14, 2014 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  4. Tampa Tim

    Thank God, RWNJs make up a small portion of our population. They seem to be reality challenged.

    February 14, 2014 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  5. Tampa Tim

    Republicans can only pick their noses.

    February 14, 2014 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  6. just saying

    Stuffitu
    I compare Obama to Caligula,Neville chamberlain, Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini and O J Simpson, as well as Benedict Arnold. And he comes out as very similar.
    ---

    more like nero than caligula..... his attacks on religion resemble some other notorious dictators that i will not mention but we all know who they are.

    February 14, 2014 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  7. bill

    if he had a son he would look just like Michale jorden.

    February 14, 2014 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  8. Tampa Tim

    I didn't expect the hate coming toward our president by comparing Jordan and Janes. I did not see that coming from the party who has set the bar so low, there have no expectations.

    February 14, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  9. Fair is Fair

    Tampa Tim

    Republicans can only pick their noses.
    -------–
    Tim, Tim, Tim... at the expense of attempted humor, you lose what little credibility you might have ever had.

    February 14, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  10. Ol' Yeller

    Tampa Tim
    Republicans can only pick their noses.

    And our pockets... don't forget our pockets.

    February 14, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. Tampa Tim

    Just – I am a Lutheran, did Obama attack my religion? You are really a hoot.

    February 14, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  12. Tampa Tim

    The meaningless word salad post of the day goes to just. You sound just like someone who I won't mention.

    February 14, 2014 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  13. Harold Read

    Says the man who threw 2 for 22 at the 2013 Easter Egg Roll...

    February 14, 2014 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  14. louis

    Dr. J

    Was who they all aspired to be

    February 14, 2014 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  15. Tampa Tim

    Everyone knows that when you compare Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, McConnell, Cruz, Cantor and Gomert to historical figures, the names that pop up are, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Ivan IV, Genghis Khan, Vlad Tepes, and Saddam Hussein.

    February 14, 2014 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    Newsflash: It's not "politics" just because a politician said it. This goes for about 60%-75% of CNN's Ticker articles.

    February 14, 2014 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  17. it must be stated

    Tampa Tim
    I didn't expect the hate coming toward our president by comparing Jordan and Janes. I did not see that coming from the party who has set the bar so low, there have no expectations.
    -–

    Amusing coming from one of the biggest posters of hate on the Ticker.

    February 14, 2014 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  18. American

    Putin's visit came as a surprise to many, especially considering the strained relationship between the two nations. Tensions increased ahead of the Games following President Barack Obama's decision to skip the Olympics and appoint three openly gay athletes (Billie Jean King, Brian Boitano and Caitlin Cahow) to anchor the U.S. delegation.

    Many believe Obama's move was made in an effort to condemn Russia's anti-gay propaganda law. According to Armour, the decision was also met with chagrin by International Olympic Committee members, who prefer politics be left out of the two-week event.

    During his visit, Putin toured the USA House and enjoyed coffee, wine and conversation. Armour reported that he was also presented a trio of gift bags, including Team USA apparel and an official Valentine's Day pin.
    .

    February 14, 2014 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "his attacks on religion "

    What attacks on religion? Please detail them.

    February 14, 2014 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  20. Chris-E...al

    M0re games . While americans serch for jobs . but dems dont want t0 create job .they want to take the rich folks an take them down with taxs an m0re uncertainty they are the very 0ne s that create j0bs ? poor ppl dont make j0bs. dems want t0 control evthing until we all draw the same inc0me ! they want 2 control ur mind ? an rip ur will t0 work with hand0uts .

    February 14, 2014 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  21. Silence DoGood

    (sarcasm alert) The first thing a socialist dictator does is comment on sports.

    February 14, 2014 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  22. NWO

    LeBron James is in no way even close to Michael Jordan. Jordan played in an era that had way better teams and players than what there is now. Look how bad the Eastern Conference is.

    February 14, 2014 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  23. truth be told

    Tampa Tim
    Republicans can only pick their noses.
    --

    Way to stay classy.... you have earned the nickname Tampon Timmy.

    February 14, 2014 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?

    just saying
    Stuffitu
    I compare Obama to Caligula,Neville chamberlain, Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini and O J Simpson, as well as Benedict Arnold. And he comes out as very similar.
    -

    more like nero than caligula..... his attacks on religion resemble some other notorious dictators that i will not mention but we all know who they are.
    -------------------------------------
    Do you two wake up every morning and drink an entire gallon of haterade? What war on religion are you referring to?

    February 14, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  25. tom l

    Everyone knows that when you compare Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, McConnell, Cruz, Cantor and Gomert to historical figures, the names that pop up are, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Ivan IV, Genghis Khan, Vlad Tepes, and Saddam Hussein."
    ====

    I think my girlfriend from Uganda would have a much different opinion than you and would probably would just feel sorry for you for how little class you have. She lived through many of the years of Idi Amin in power. Not only do you have no idea nor understanding of history, you trivialize horrible acts to try and score a political point. You guys really have no shame, do you? Do you realize how insulting that is and how little compassion you have for people that actually suffered at the hands of those monsters? Are you that ignorant of history that you think it's cool to do that?

    February 14, 2014 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
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