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With March madness upon us, it was an opportune time for President Obama to talk basketball.

STORY: CHEERS! Barack & Michelle Honor Troops From Iraq & Afghanistan

In a recent interview with Bill Simmons, the editor-in-chief of Grantland and the author of The Book of Basketball, the Prez discussed everything from New York Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin, to his own solid crossover.

We all know President Obama is an avid basketball fan, but it’s a thrill to hear him put down his political bullhorn and engage in some compelling sports talk.

When asked about the recent success of another Harvard guy in Lin, the President said: 

“He’s doing good. And I knew about Jeremy before you did, or everybody else did, because Arne Duncan, my Secretary of Education, was captain of the Harvard team.

And so way back when, Arne and I were playing and he said, I’m telling you, we’ve got this terrific guard named Jeremy Lin at Harvard.

And then one of my best friends, his son is a freshman at Harvard, and so when he went for a recruiting trip he saw Lin in action. So I’ve been on the Jeremy Lin bandwagon for a while.”

When it came to his own basketball game, the President claims he crossed-over All-Star point guard Chris Paul, saying: 

“He’s on my Presidential Fitness Council. And I’ve gotten to know a lot of these guys, because for my 49th birthday I had my own little All-Star Game here.

So Chris was one of the guys who played. And I did a little crossover on him. He claims that he could have stolen the ball. Everybody who was there knows that that’s not true. The second time, he might have stolen the ball. The first time he didn’t know I had that move on me…My crossover is solid.”

As for his hometown Chicago Bulls, the President sees them visiting the White House sooner rather than later as he breaks down this year’s team: 

“Deng seems more confident. Boozer is in better shape. Derrick Rose has matured. I’m a little worried about making sure that they give him enough rest with the back spasms that he had. But the Bulls, I think, are right in there.

I think they’ve got a great chance. The Heat are playing better than anybody right now. And when those folks get going on a fast break, it’s over.

But during the playoffs things slow down a little bit, and you got to run a half-court offense, and in that situation, I think the Bulls got a shot…it hasn’t happened yet, but it will happen…

Somewhere along the line my Bulls are going to come through here. Absolutely.”

It’s always dope when the President gets to talk sports. As he says: 

“The mythology of sports is just — it’s deeply embedded in us….I remember I visited Iraq as a senator and they invited me to go into this gym, and there were like 3,000 of our troops there. And somebody just handed me a ball and said, Come on, Mr. President, take a shot.” And I said, OK, and I shot it and swished it from the 3-point line.

And the amount of excitement that those folks had was surprising to me.

But I think it just sort of reminded me of the kind of bond that sports creates in people. People — for all our differences politically, regionally, economically — most folks understand sports.

Probably because it’s one of the few places where it’s a true meritocracy.”

Damn, Obama knows his stuff! 

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