July 8th, 2010
03:45 PM ET
12 years ago

Two degrees of separation: White House to LeBron

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/08/art.lebronjames.0708u.gi.jpg caption="Robert Gibbs says President Obama still hopes Lebron James will play for his hometown team, the Chicago Bulls."](CNN) – For all the power and privileges associated with the Office of the President of the United States, very rarely does the White House venture into the world of professional sports.

Sure, sports champions often stop by the White House for a photo-op and President Obama threw out the first pitch at National's Park this year. Obama even makes trips to the golf course.

But the president's real passion is for basketball, and by the most tenuous of threads, there appears to be a small White House connection to tonight's highly anticipated announcement by LeBron James.

James, a free agent, will announce tonight during a one-hour special on ESPN, which of several suitors he has chosen to play for next year.

But new details about how the television special came about reveal that Ari Emanuel, the super-agent brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, encouraged the idea when first proposed.

CNN's sister publication "Sports Illustrated" reports that when the idea of a one-hour announcement special was first floated by broadcaster Jim Gray, Emanuel was among those that encouraged the idea.

Gray made the pitch to Emanuel and Maverick Carter, James' marketing guru, during game two of the NBA finals.

But the idea took off, Sports Illustrated reports, when Gray, Carter and James later discussed the idea over dinner.

Obama is scheduled to be in Las Vegas Thursday evening holding a fundraiser for Sen. Harry Reid, and there is no word from the White House on whether Obama intends to watch the big announcement.

Obama is clearly interested, however.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked during Wednesday's press briefing if Obama had made his hopes for James known.

"After the news of Miami's apparent acquiring of Chris Bosh, I think the President still believes that he [James] would look quite good in a Bulls uniform. I hope that does not lead to NBA tampering charges," Gibbs said.

And can the president, a well known Bulls fan, be convinced to root for another team?

"I think the people of Ohio and the rest of the country would respect that the President is going to root for the team he's always rooted for," Gibbs said.

Filed under: Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. JoshuaM

    But the president's real passion is for basketball, that is true he could care less that the debt is unsustainable, the stimulus hasn't created any jobs, or the oil spill clean up is being hampered by the government. Now were a basketball player goes, that's a top priority.

    July 8, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  2. Sean Carlos

    I hope this whole plan doesn't backfire, it seems that it is starting to turn off many people around the country.

    July 8, 2010 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  3. A HA

    All these guys are way over paid(pro sport and politians.)

    July 8, 2010 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  4. andy

    Who cares about the overpaid overblown ego trip known as Lebron James? Oil spilling in the gulf and all these two (obama and james) care about is fueling their ego. This country is in really sad shape when you put someone like james on a pedestal above everything that really matters in this world.

    July 8, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Sorry Mr. President. He's going to Miami. Although I would love him to play for my Knickerbockers, the Miami deal is done and has been for a while. I'm glad that you don't know this yet which let's me know that you're not part of the Illuminati. Let me quote a verse for you sir:

    "If Jeezy's playin Lebron, I'm playin Dwayne Wade" – Jay-Z (Empire State of Mind)

    July 8, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  6. Get A Grip

    "But the president's real passion is for basketball"

    Well no kidding. Most of us have already figured this one out. So sad his real passion isn't working and fixing the problems that face our country.

    July 8, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. ib

    this shows just how out of touch with reality this president is; with all the problems this country is facing and by the way not all of them have been caused by Bush; Obama is still wrapped up more in basketball than being president.

    July 8, 2010 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  8. jim

    Obama would rather play one on one with Lebron James than working on putting people back to work.That's the problem !!!!

    July 8, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  9. Gwen

    People give me a break, President Obama is very hardworking – much harder than Bush ever was – so he has a life, so he likes basketball, that doesn't mean he's not working hard trying to solve the country's problems – some people will bash Obama no matter what he does!!!

    July 8, 2010 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  10. Dave

    "Obama even makes trips to the golf course"

    They make it sound like a rare occurance when in fact, he has played more rounds ALREADY than Bush did in his entire 8 years.

    But don't let the press reports get the facts in the way of reality for them.

    July 8, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  11. R Ramirez

    We are all in this together whether you like it or not so quit complaining that the President hasn't done squat bc quite frankly he has done more in his one year in office then most Presidents have done in one term. Yes there are a lot of problems...most of these problems were inherited. So let's all stop complaining and get behind our President. It's going to take all of us to get through these hard times and fix these problems we face.

    BTW who cares where LeBron goes. As long as Kobe is playing then the Lakers will be winning championships. 3-Peat next year regardless if LeBron signs with the Heat. Go Lakers!

    July 8, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  12. Richard

    I think all of you should get a grip. The president's passion for basketball is not a reason to go off on a tangent about what is or is not doing for the country. Everyone, even the president is allowed to have a personal life.

    July 8, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  13. un americano

    No matter what Obama does, everyone hates. The Health Care plan is the same as that developed by Romney in Mass. He has kept the same military personnel in place as Bush (Gates and Generals sans McChrystal), same two wars, same corporate policies. Ask yourselves a question. Can you name 5 ways (outside of abortion) that the Republican leadership has differed in the past 10 years as Obama in the past 2?

    Same Debt, Same Wars, Same Corporate Leniency, Same Environmental policies.

    ***News Flash*** He's not a socialist. He's not a radical. He is doing the same as has been done for the past 20 years. Stop sounding like a broken record. And BTW if you think that voting for these so-called Tea Party outsiders will change anything, you're dumber than thought. Same Same Same.

    Don't be fooled.

    July 8, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  14. joe

    Obama didnt write this article, and what would you want Obama to do instead of his job and playing basketball.. sit and drink like Bush, go hunting and shoot people like Cheney. get a grip of reality who wants the Presidents job anyway.. it sucks.

    July 8, 2010 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  15. Texan

    LeBron wanted to stay in Cleveland. But that is not going to happen as he was unable to get a strong supporting cast to come there. So he is going to go to the Big Apple. It offers him everything he personifies. He fits into NYC like a glove. The question will remian if he will be able to make a difference. Personally, I doubt it.

    July 8, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  16. adam

    President Obama is doing better than I expected. Keeping in mind the amount of damage that Bush Jr. inflicted on the country, the world, and constitution, by his lack of judgment and intellect. I think that Karl Rove made a wish on a dead monkey's paw.

    July 8, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  17. Really?

    Sure his real passion is basketball! and golf, & baseball and anything but this country. Why would you think it is the economy should matter.

    Hardest working President or Hardly working President!

    He had not done anything but ruin this country for our children and grandchildren. Where are all the morons shouting about the deficits when Bush was in office? How u like the deficits now? How do you like higher taxes?

    Did the stimulus work? R u going to enjoy paying taxes on your h/c benefits fr ur employers? Did unemployment drop below 9%?

    Nice Change!

    July 8, 2010 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |