Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing and Walt Frazier were among the NBA legends who rubbed elbows with President Barack Obama during a fundraising dinner at Lincoln Center Wednesday night. It was just one in a series of events throughout the day, where some of basketball's biggest names lent a hand to the campaign. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
It was billed as the Obama Classic. And while Obama himself wasn’t there, some of basketball’s biggest stars were, legends past and present like Patrick Ewing, Anfernee Hardaway and Chris Bosh. Supporters paid as much as $5,000 for a fantasy camp with the stars followed by an autograph session.
The president's own basketball skills were a topic of conversation for attendees.
"He’s really good and he makes, like, he can jump, he can block, he can shoot," said one. "He can do it all.”
“I’ve never seen him play but I’ve heard good things," said another. "I’m not sure if he’s still smoking cigarettes, so that could be a factor in his endurance.”
The president’s endurance is not in question when it comes to campaigning. Prior to arriving in New York, Obama rounded out a two-day swing through Nevada, where he touted his education policies and took some swings at his opponent, Mitt Romney.
“Gov. Romney says we’ve got enough teachers," Obama said. "We don’t need any more. You know, the way he talks them, it seems as if he thinks these are a bunch of nameless government bureaucrats that we need to cut back on.”
Meanwhile, at a manufacturing plant in Iowa, Romney talked of unleashing the power of the individual and warned against big European-style government.
“President Obama, bless his heart, has tried to substitute government for free people and it has not worked," Romney said. "And it’ll never work.”
Here in New York, Obama's basketball connection seemed to be winning him fans.
“As a child, I’m not incredibly invested in politics but I am invested in sports," said one fundraiser attendee. "So it definitely increases his likeability quotient, knowing that he’s a big sports fan.”
“I think it keeps him in contact with people," said another. "It gives him more of a personal approach. He’s got to work on his J, though.”
After attending a $20,000-a-head dinner at Lincoln Center hosted by Michael Jordan and NBA Commissioner David Stern, President Obama shot some hoops at the Jazz at Lincoln Center space at the Time Warner Center, though cameras were not allowed. His total fundraising take for the day was about $3 million.