by Jim Kuhnhenn
NEW YORK (AP)—President Barack Obama sees the presidential contest as a clutch moment in his favorite sport—the fourth quarter of a taut basketball game.
Fundraising with the help of current and former National Basketball Association stars, Obama told a small group of donors gathered Wednesday night at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center that the current campaign is like the final minutes of a basketball contest with his team up by a few points.
“But the other side is coming strong,” Obama said. “And they play a little dirty. We’ve got a few folks on our team in foul trouble. We have a couple of injuries. And I believe they have one last run in them.”
Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan
(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Obama raised $3 million with the help of the players, who included former Chicago Bulls player Michael Jordan and former New York Knicks Walt Frazier and Bill Bradley. NBA Commissioner David Stern also was there.
Invoking Jordan’s competitive nature, Obama concluded, “If you have seven minutes to go and you have a little bit of a lead, that’s when you put them away.”
The players were part a daylong fundraiser. Earlier, former and current players participated in a $250-per-person autograph session and in a skills camp priced at $5,000 for two people.
“It is very rare that I come to an event where I’m like the fifth or sixth most interesting person,” Obama joked at the Lincoln Center dinner.
Later, Obama changed out of his dark suit to shoot baskets with some of the players out of sight of the press. Obama, an avid basketball fan and a player, made a splash during his 2008 campaign by sinking a 3-point shot while visiting troops in Kuwait. His most recent star-studded game, also played in private, featured actors George Clooney and Tobey Maguire.