At around 10am, the rumors started swirling. President Obama was probably, most likely, could be, was maybe considering, attending the Wizards/Bulls game at the Verizon Center Friday night. And indeed after all the hubbub, long screening lines and increased security presence, the Commander In Chief showed up just before tip off.
Well, that’s sort of correct as officials held the tip off until after Obama arrived, which was a smart decision because when he arrived the arena erupted for about 10 minutes. Everyone was on their feet clapping, screaming, jumping up and down. Flash bulbs were popping nonstop. Even the players turned to welcome DC’s most prominent resident. It was as if The Beatles had reunited and were playing their first reunion concert. His entrance was show stopping.
Accompanied by a male friend–it was a guy’s night out–Obama sat court side. He shook hands, waved and then–shocker–took his seat and became a spectator. Throughout the game he chatted with the little boy wearing a Wizards’ jersey on his right, perhaps a playmate for Sasha? And cheered for his home town team the Bulls. Obama was open, low key and maintained a gregarious demeanor, despite what must have been everyone in the entire stadium walking by and trying to shake his hand.
The best moment of the night came when the Wizards took the Bulls on a 12-0 run, and surrounding DC fans started playfully heckling Obama making the timeout “t” in his direction to suggest that the Bulls needed a timeout. Obama, equally playful, wagged his finger back at them saying “not yet” only to have the Chicago coach immediately call a TO. This only brought a big smile to Obama’s face and some more playful banter between he CIC and the court side Wizards fans.
Obama’s attendance at Friday night’s game adds to the ever growing list of DC community events the First Family has become a part of ever since moving to the area. While previous president’s have attended DC sporting events, never have they been this accessible and, well, normal in their participation. George W. and Bill were always sitting in skyboxes, presumably eating sushi and hobknobbing with the big wigs. I find it so refreshing and endearing to know that by the end of busy work week even the 44th President of U.S. just wants to watch his team play, have a beer with friends and relax.