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UPDATE: Looks like the announced fundraiser isn't Version 2.0 of the all-star game that was planned back in December and postponed due to the end of the lockout.
According to an Obama campaign spokesman, while potential donors are being enticed by the prospect of "shooting hoops with Carmelo Anthony, Patrick Ewing, Sheryl Swoopes, Kyrie Irving and Alonzo Mourning," "hit[ting] the court with Patrick Ewing and Melo" and "suiting up with hoops stars," there won't actually be a game played at the upcoming fundraiser. Furthermore, Michael Jordan's participation will be limited to co-hosting a dinner with President Barack Obama following the shootaround/meet-and-greet, according to Ben Finkenbinder, a regional press secretary for Obama for America.
No word yet on when (or if) the postponed game is scheduled to be made up, but again: This, unfortunately, ain't it.
It's been a little more than three weeks since President Barack Obama weighed in on the tempest-in-a-teapot "Dream Team vs. 2012" debate, telling ESPN he'd take the 1992 U.S. men's Olympic basketball team over this year's version of Team USA if the two squads were to square off. The first player that Obama, a longtime Chicago Bulls fan's mouth, referenced in doing so was, of course, Michael Jordan. Now, according to Nina Mandell of BuzzFeed Sports, M.J. is set to repay the commander in chief's compliment, agreeing to appear at a star-studded upcoming celebrity event aimed at raising funds for Obama's bid for re-election this November.
In addition to Jordan, the "2012 Obama Classic" will also feature Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing, New York Knicks All-Star Carmelo Anthony, and multiple other NBA and WNBA stars past and present, with donors in attendance and their guests getting to "meet the President — and shoot hoops with some of the best basketball players alive," according to Obama's campaign website.
Politico's Byron Tau shared copy from the campaign email announcing the event:
"Imagine shooting hoops" with those stars, deputy national field director Marlon Marshall wrote in an email to supporters. Other attendees include Sheryl Swoopes, Kyrie Irving and Alonzo Mourning.
"Now stop dreaming and make it happen. You and a guest of your choice could join President Obama and some of the greatest basketball stars for a special night at the Obama Classic," Marshall wrote.
"Pitch in $3 or whatever you can, and you'll be automatically entered for a chance to win," Marshall wrote. "Hit the court with Patrick Ewing and Melo? Trade stories with the President? This is the kind of stuff your kids will tell their kids, and no one will believe it until you show them a photo."
While "whatever you can" donations will earn interested parties a chance at entry, it's not yet clear how much guaranteed admission will run you. For the original event — scheduled to be held back in December but had to be postponed due to the end of the NBA lockout and impending Christmas Day kickoff — tickets were listed as ranging from $200 for general admission entry up to $5,000 for courtside seating, with The Associated Press reporting that "big donors who contributed the maximum $35,800 could get dinner with the players."
This time around, the donation amounts listed on the campaign site are $15, $25, $50, $100, $250, $500, $1,000 and "other." If you already ponied up for the rain-checked December game, though, you're good to go — Politico reports that a postponement letter sent to supporters "said that any tickets purchased to the original fundraiser would be honored at the rescheduled event."
As for the TBD roster of stars appearing, the December game was slated to feature stars Anthony, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen among "more than two dozen NBA stars." How star-studded this version will be could depend largely on the date, which is yet to be determined, according to CBS D.C. (It's not yet known if Bosh, Allen or any other members of Obama's beloved "Miami Heats" will participate.)
The relationship between lifelong basketball fan Obama and NBA players is well established and has continued throughout his presidency.
Several past and present players made sizable donations to Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, including LeBron James, Grant Hill, Shane Battier and Magic Johnson. In the summer of 2010, he hosted a pick-up game to entertain wounded war veterans that featured a number of NBA players, including James, Anthony, Johnson, Paul, Hill, Battier, Mourning, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, David West, Chauncey Billups, Derek Fisher and Etan Thomas, as well as WNBA star Maya Moore and even the legendary Bill Russell. Back in February, during the NBA's All-Star Weekend, Dallas Mavericks swingman Vince Carter held an Obama fundraiser at his Orlando home at which a reported 70 attendees (including Mavs owner Mark Cuban and NBA Commissioner David Stern) dropped $30,000 a head to rub elbows with the president.
More details on the event should be rolling down the pike shortly, but one thing's clear: While Jordan's cool enough with Obama to hook him up with some custom-made Spizikes, if they wind up lacing 'em up and taking some shots out on the court at the fundraiser, the prez better pray for a double. It's borderline impossible to imagine M.J., even at 49, passing up a chance to break down the leader of the free world.