Obama Courtside for Georgetown Basketball Game

By MichaelJames

Jan 30, 2010 1:40pm

ABC News' Karen Travers reports:

The 11th-ranked Georgetown Hoyas are taking on the seventh-ranked Duke Blue Devils in Washington today before a sold out crowd in one of the premier men’s college basketball matchups of the weekend.

The nationally-televised game has such potential to be a barnburner that even President Obama and Vice President Biden dropped by to take in the action at the Verizon Center.

Obama walked in just before the national anthem to big applause from the Georgetown student section, which saw him first. He did not initially show his loyalty, wearing a black jacket.

It is Obama’s second college basketball game this season. In November, the first family went to the George Washington-Oregon State game in Washington, where the Obamas rooted for the visiting Beavers. Michelle’s brother, Craig Robinson, is the head coach at Oregon State.

Obama’s passion for sports is well known and he is loyal to his hometown teams in Chicago.

He played basketball regularly on the campaign trail, even getting in a game with the North Carolina Tar Heels, and has spent many weekend afternoons on the golf course with friends and aides.

The president’s daughters, Sasha and Malia, may have inherited their father’s love for basketball. Last Saturday, Obama attended one of Sasha’s games at a community center in suburban Maryland.

Sports typically has been a way for Obama to relax and take a break from the pressures of the presidency and politics, but a pick-up basketball game at the White House in October earned him some criticism for it’s all-male roster.

Georgetown started dropping hints that there may be an uber-VIP in the house, advising fans on Thursday and Friday to arrive to the game early because there would be enhanced security measures due to “dignitaries” at the game. Former Hoya coach John Thompson Jr. said on his radio show on Friday that the president would be attending but called it a distraction.

Even high-profile Georgetown alums were excited about the possibility of the presidential visit. Washington Wizards' owner Ted Leonsis blogged that he hoped to sit close enough to Obama to buy him a hot dog.

Vice President Biden has ties to Georgetown, with two Hoyas in his family – niece Missy Owens and nephew Cuff Owens.

Obama may be rooting for the Blue Devils today, even though the Hoyas are his new hometown team. His personal aide, Reggie Love, played basketball and football at Duke and was a member of the Blue Devils’ 2001 national championship team.

But maybe Hoya fans shouldn’t be too discouraged if the hoopster-in-chief is rooting for the visiting team today.

Obama’s golden touch has been called into question lately. He stumped for Democratic political candidates who ended up losing elections in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts, and his 11th hour personal pitch in Copenhagen, Denmark didn’t help his hometown of Chicago win the 2016 Olympic Summer Games.

Now it looks like that not-so-Midas touch now has trickled into basketball. Earlier this week, Obama called the top-ranked and unbeaten Kentucky Wildcats basketball team to thank them for their work to raise $1 million in the “Hoops for Haiti” telethon.

The hoopster-in-chief also cautioned them to keep their focus and not let their standing at the top of the polls get to their heads.

Perhaps the message wasn’t clear enough: The Wildcats lost their first game Friday night, falling 68-62 to unranked South Carolina in Columbia, S.C.

-Karen Travers

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