A Cabinet Or A Basketball Team?

As President-elect Barack Obama builds his administration and fills his cabinet, pundits and experts are closely examining the picks as they would the NBA draft, to get a sense of what kind of president he is going to be and what of administration he will run.

Introducing his pick for the Secretary of Education today, Mr. Obama himself gave them a big hint: "I will say that I think we are putting together the best basketball-playing Cabinet in American history"

Playing Basketball is one of the president-elect's favorite past-times and he's been filing his Cabinet as he would a basketball team roster.

(AP Photo)
Starting with today's pick for Education, Arne Duncan, who actually was a professional basketball player in Australia. Before that he played ball at Harvard.

At power forward would be Attorney General designate, Eric Holder, who played basketball growing up in New York City. When asked recently about playing against Mr. Obama on the hardcourt, Holder told the New York Times "I'm not sure he's ready for my New York Game."

At center, the 6-foot-4-inch National Security Advisor, General James Jones, who played college ball at Georgetown University before enlisting in the Marine Corps.

And in the backcourt, Mr. Obama's ambassador the United Nations, Susan Rice, who was a stand-out baller at her high school in Washington DC. Her skills reportedly won her a nickname, "Spo" which is short for 'Sportin'

But Mr. Obama's team building doesn't stop in the Cabinet Room, it runs throughout the White House family. His brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, was an elite player at Princeton University before playing professionally in Europe. Now, the 6'6" brother of Mr. Obama's wife Michelle is in his first year as the head coach of the men's team at Oregon State University.

But, basketball was more than Mr. Obama's main source of recreation during the primaries that went into overtime and the grueling general election. "It was the only thing he was superstitious about," says Maria Gavrilovic, the CBS News producer who covered the Obama campaign from the very first tip-off. "He played basketball every day there was an election since Iowa."

The Chicago Sun Times reported today that Duncan's pick may have been decided on Election Day in November, when the power forward / Education Secretary-to-be took part in Mr. Obama's hoop dreams ritual. And when asked today who had the better jump shot, the man who will soon become the leader of the free world didn't miss a beat: "Duncan much better. That one's an easy one."
  • Robert Hendin On Twitter»

    Robert Hendin is senior producer for "Face the Nation" and a CBS News senior political producer.

Comments