Back in 2010, noted basketball enthusiast and President Barack Obama celebrated his 49th birthday by hosting what sounded like the coolest pickup basketball game ever — a closed-to-the-media run at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., featuring a who's who of the basketball world, including Magic Johnson, Bill Russell, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Grant Hill, Maya Moore and many others. "Kobe Bryant was there but didn't play," a White House spokesperson told The Washington Post at the time, which sounds about right, because Kobe don't play, man.
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The pickup games — which were actually part of "a round-robin basketball tournament" arranged by Obama staffers/friends Reggie Love, Michael Strautmanis and Marty Nesbitt, during which "Obama [sank] a three-pointer over Derrick Rose to secure the last of his team's three victories," as Alexander Wolff wrote in "The Audacity of Hoop: Basketball and the Age of Obama" — took place "in front of wounded veterans and participants in a White House mentoring program," according to the Post. Now, one of those vets, Col. Jack Thebau, has decided to give memorabilia collectors the chance to own a memento from that super-cool, super-exclusive run — the jersey that Hall of Famer Alonzo Mourning rocked while hoisting jumpers and clearing the glass with the leader of the free world.
The offered Nike size 2XL “POTUS’ 49th” jersey worn by Alonzo Mourning has been signed by (13) players in those pickup games: Carmelo Anthony, Shane Battier, Chauncey Billups, Kobe Bryant, Baron Davis, LeBron James, Pau Gasol, Grant Hill, Maya Moore, Alonzo Mourning, Magic Johnson, Chris Paul and of course Barack Obama himself. The mesh shirt features signatures of average (“8-9”) potency that present extremely nicely, some of which feature additional jersey number inscriptions. [...]
[Thebau's] letter of provenance reads:
“This item is a game worn jersey from President Obama’s 49th Birthday Celebration in 2010. A number of wounded warriors (myself included) from Walter Reed Medical Center were invited to attend and watch numerous pickup games played by several current and former NBA stars and POTUS. These games took place at Ft. McNair in Washington, DC. After the game, some of the players gave some of us their jerseys and I was lucky enough to receive Alonzo Mourning’s. When we all received jerseys we then went around and got the players to sign.
Of course, a rare piece like this with so many celebrity John Hancocks won't come cheap. Bidding for the practice jersey opened at $900, and as of press time sits at $1,100, with just over a week left to go before the auction ends. That price tag sadly won't afford you the ability to go back and witness what it must have looked like to see the commander in chief long-pants-hoop it up with a pre-injury D-Rose, post-Decision LeBron and old-man-game-mogul Magic, but maybe there's enough sweat and stank still on the pinnie to generate a Smell-O-Vision-style sense memory transportation through space and time all the way back to the summer of 2010.
Either way, it's about as close to balling with Barack as you're going to get without having to worry about the Secret Service bum-rushing you for whistling an elbow. If you're a fan of America's first basketball president with a couple of grand to spare, there are worse ways to splash it, no?
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