Barack Obama to Magic Johnson: I was a Sixers’ fan

magic-johnson-obamaOn Monday, President Obama stopped by Magic Johnson’s mansion in Beverly Hills for a fundraising event.

At the event, Obama revealed one NBA team that he was (is?) rooting for.

“First of all, understand that I was a 76ers fan,” Obama said.

The overwhelming pro Lakers audience did what fans everywhere do: It booed.

Obama, ever the politician, won back the crowd when he said, “There’s nobody who is a bigger icon than Magic Johnson.”

What’s interesting is that Obama said he was a Sixers fan – maybe he was referring to the 1980 NBA Finals, in which Magic helped lead the Lakers over the Sixers in six games.

Generally, after all, the president roots for everything Chicago, including the Bulls.

According to a pool report, the audience included celebrities, politicians and sports stars. Among them: LaTanya and Samuel L. Jackson, Zoe Jackson, Ashley Lewis and Antawn Jamison, Diane Keaton, Chelsea and JJ Redick, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, DCCC chairman Steve Israel and DSCC chairman Michael Bennet.

Obama said there were two things he wanted to note about Johnson, the first being “when the incredibly difficult circumstances of his HIV diagnosis comes up. The way he handles that doesn’t just empower folks who are dealing with that illness, doesn’t just help put research dollars in. It moves the country and the world to think in an entirely new way that ends up changing the face of this country and our attitudes with the kind of grace and courage that only true leaders can display.”

The second, he said, was that “Magic has become a prime example of somebody who was blessed with incredible fame and fortune from a sports career and understood his next step is to build institutions and businesses and employ people and go into communities that folks said weren’t worth anything and find that they’re worth a whole lot if somebody’s willing to invest in them.”

Obama added, “Also keep in mind that the last time Magic played basketball was with me at my 49th birthday party, and I just want to tell ya, it wasn’t pretty.”

Obama finished his speech by talking about the virtues of team sports.

“Every politician uses sports analogies, even if they didn’t play sports. My basketball career ended in high school. I probably could’ve finagled my way onto a Division Three team, but that was about as far as I could’ve gone. But when I watch Malia and Sasha play sports – and I’ve encouraged them and occasionally coach them – one of the things I tell them is even if you’re not talented like Magic Johnson, what sports will teach you is the concept of team, the idea of a group of individuals molding themselves into a unit to achieve a goal, to pursue something that is important and that individually we can achieve.”

He added, “Part of what made Magic Johnson one of the greatest of all time – there were folks who scored more than he did, there were folks who were faster than he was, but nobody played a team game better than he did. And that’s more than anything what we need right now in this country, a sense that we’re in this together and we’re pursuing this thing, this objective, an America that is more prosperous, more peaceful and is growing, together. That’s what we’re fighting for. I’m very proud of the fact that those values are at the heart of the Democratic Party.”

Johnson later tweeted, alluding to the president’s enthusiasm for basketball: “I gave him a tour of my Laker Trophy room where we talked about basketball and I even gave him some tips on how to improve his jumpshot!”


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