Obama is one of the most athletic presidents the United States has ever had, often playing pickup basketball during his time in the White House and beyond. But can this public figure dunk, too?
Barack Obama doesn’t dunk. He is a great defensive player and a crafty offensive player, according to college and professional players he’s played against. While he doesn’t dunk, he is a selective shooter and more apt to pass the ball to a teammate than take the shot himself.
Read more below to learn about Obama’s basketball skills, other players’ breakdowns and analyses of his playing, and a way that Obama can dunk.
Obama’s Skills on the Court
Obama is a huge basketball fan and has attended many professional games, resulting in posts like this one featuring Obama’s courtside reaction to Zion Williamson’s shoe splitting open in the middle of a game.
While watching his daughters’ basketball games, he’d critique their strategy from the sidelines to Michelle Obama, who then suggested that he teach them. As Reggie Love wrote in his memoir Power Forward, “Next thing I knew, we were coaching girls’ basketball.”
Mike Zinn, his coach from his time at Occidental College in Los Angeles, said that “[h]e had a nose for the ball, always came up with loose balls and rebounds inside. So if he got 10 points in a game, most of them were probably under the basket. He didn’t hit jump shots from 15 feet or anything like that.”
“He was a good defender, definitely a good athlete,” he finished. So while the young Obama may not have been the best player, he was a strong, important part of the team.
But what about Obama’s skills as an adult? He’s certainly played plenty of pickup basketball over the years at the White House court with many former college and professional players.
Duncan had high praise of the former president as an ally, saying, “He’s a great teammate, he’s the kind of guy you want on your team because it’s all about winning, it’s all about doing whatever it takes to win. And that can be big stuff or tiny stuff no one ever notices.”
So Obama’s play is very cerebral, selectively choosing his shots and focusing more on passing. Andy Katz had much of the same opinion: “He likes the ball in his hands, is a much better passer than shooter and is much more of a selective shooter. He’s not a ball hog and not someone who’s going to constantly seek his shot.”
Obama lessened the amount of basketball he played over the years, explaining why in a 2015 interview. “I used to play basketball much more but these days I’ve gotten to the point where it is not as much fun… I’m not as good as I used to be and I get frustrated. I was never great but I was a good player and I could play seriously.”
So Obama considered himself to be a good player, though never a great one, focusing on playing for the team rather than going for all the glory.
In a highlight video created by the user, Obama dunks on famous players like Carmelo Anthony. So while the president never dunked on others in real life, his virtual persona does all the time.
Check out the YouTube video below to see NykeFaller’s highlight video of Obama’s character dunking on others.