GQ’s new oral history of President Obama playing pickup basketball is absolutely worth a read.
Within it, you get a solid feel for Obama’s legendary competitive tendencies.
Nobody was safe from his trash talk, not even Joakim Noah, who at the time was the star center for Obama’s beloved Bulls.
At a gathering for Obama’s 49th birthday that included a who’s who of NBA stars—LeBron James, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose and an injured Kobe on the sidelines—he matched up with Noah and the rest is pretty much amazing.
Former White House chief strategist David Axelrod summed it up:
David Axelrod: [The President] ticked off Joakim Noah because the president was trash-talking him about his shot, [which is], shall we say, unorthodox. The president said, “Where’d you get that shot? That’s the ugliest shot I’ve ever seen.” So at some point, Noah decided, “Okay, let’s see about yours.” And he completely smothered the President. I mean he was guarding him and the President could not go anywhere. But I will say that with all of that, somehow playing against all these NBA players, he mysteriously was able to hit the winning shot.
Poor Joakim. But also...classic Joakim.