At one point, Barack Obama was among the most powerful men in the world. Just because he was a U.S. President didn't mean he lost interest in sports. In fact, Obama used to host the so-called "presidential basketball games."
As expected, the presidential basketball games were star-studded. Household names in the NBA were invited to hoop at the White House, including Magic Johnson, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, and John Wall.
John Wall is talked about at the White House
Obama administration's White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer was one of the people the former president appointed to organize the coveted basketball events. Pfeiffer said, "people always wanted to play in any sort of Obama basketball game," from famous athletes to "members of Congress" but it was impossible to include all of them on the list.
More often than not, Pfeiffer said the NBA stars who came to play were showmen, and people could tell how grateful they were to have taken part in the presidential basketball games except for a certain John Wall.
According to Pfeiffer, Wall "slept through" his presidential basketball game at the White House, and people in attendance noticed it. It has been talked about since then and, quite possibly, even to this day.
"They would invite some NBA players to play in them. Kevin Durant famously played, I think before either his rookie year or before his rookie year he came and played in a game," Pfeiffer told Sports Illustrated in 2020. "There's an infamous story that I don't know, I can't swear is true, but that John Wall slept through his presidential basketball game. That story has been going around the White House in D.C. for years."
The biggest star of them all
Having seen countless NBA legends and present-day stars hoop at the White House, Pfeiffer kind of got used to it over time. However, one event always stands out whenever he recounts the presidential ball games.
For Pfeiffer, it was the most memorable event of them all, and it was only fitting that it starred six-time NBA champion Scottie Pippen, whom he regarded as the biggest star of all the players.
"He had lots of players. The most famous player ever to play in an Election Day game, which were always a little bit more of a ceremonial affair than a regular Saturday run was Scottie Pippen," Pfeiffer recalled. "He played in the game on Election Day in 2012 with his son."
Indeed, Pippen is far from Wall as far as NBA stature goes. So, it's quite understandable why their participation in Obama's presidential basketball games had opposite impacts.