It was October of 2009. Chicago had just been nominated to represent the United States hoping to once again host the summer Olympics in 2016. The last time that the US had hosted such games, was in 1996 in Atlanta.
I remember I was in my car on my way to get coffee and a snack, when I heard then President of the United States himself, Barack Obama giving a speech in favor of hosting the Chicago summer Olympics on live radio. I was impressed, and also proud. A President of the U.S standing there in front of the Olympic organizers speaking in support of his hometown.
As only Obama can do, he eloquently stated why Chicago was the perfect and only city in the world to host the summer Olympics. The audience seemed and sounded captivated and impressed. However, fast forward and as we know, Chicago didn’t host the summer Olympics in 2016, at the end , Rio de Janeiro received the nomination. It was the first time I saw Mr. Obama go all in when it came to sports, and in support of his hometown, but that certainly was not the last.
Chicago is a union town, a very political town. It is believed that one of the reasons why the city was not chosen is because the Olympic committee knew that the majority of Chicago residents were not in support of it. Of course, that is only speculation, and the idea that Chicago was not ready to host the summer games still bothers many Chicagoans and Americans alike.
That was one of the many times that President Obama made headlines when it came sports. He confessed his love for the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago White Sox on many occasions. He even spoke in favor of Lebron James leaving Cleveland for his Bulls during a TNT interview in 2010.
During a well documented visit from the Lakers to the White House in 2009, he made a joke about Magic Johnson reminiscing of the 1991 Bulls Championship. He gave exact details of the play, where Michael Jordan famously switch hands in mid air in front of Magic Johnson who was also at the White House. The crowd burst in laughter. It was great to see that an American President knew what he was talking about.
Obama became a regular appearing in NBA games, sporting events and television shows. He was comfortable speaking about sports and interacting with athletes more than any other modern President. During the MLB All Star in 2010, he threw the ceremonial first pitch, to date, one of the loudest ovations for any politician in a baseball game.
After Obama left office we saw a decline in professional teams visiting the White House. Many players refused to meet Mr. Trump, and other teams simply decided not to visit the White House, such as the Golden State Warriors when they won their ring in 2018. Now with Joe Biden in office, we may see a return to the W.H visits from professional teams. However, let’s face it, none of them will be as cool and memorable as when athletes were meeting number 44.
He is definitely missed.