You can hate on Grantland boss Bill Simmons all you want, but the guy undoubtedly has the coolest job in sports (writing). Despite the fact that he’s essentially a glorified blogger and doesn’t even pretend to care about doing legitimate reporting, he still gets all of the access and prestige that comes with being an ESPN employee, without any of the hassles. Among the places where his ESPN nametag recently got him access to was the White House, for a very special conversation with President Barack Obama.
Simmons and Obama talked about a lot of stuff, however, the conversation predictably began where all sports-related talk begins these days: with New York Knicks point guard, Jeremy Lin. Here is what the POTUS had to say regarding being on the Lin bandwagon early (via Grantland):
BS: So you’re catching up, obviously, on the fact that you had been surpassed as the most famous person who was a Harvard graduate.
Obama: Jeremy is —
BS: Jeremy Lin.
Obama: — doing good. And I knew about Jeremy before you did, or everybody else did, because Arne Duncan, my Secretary of Education, was captain of the Harvard team. And so way back when, Arne and I were playing and he said, I’m telling you, we’ve got this terrific guard named Jeremy Lin at Harvard. And then one of my best friends, his son is a freshman at Harvard, and so when he went for a recruiting trip he saw Lin in action. So I’ve been on the Jeremy Lin bandwagon for a while.
BS: Are you taking credit for “Linsanity”? It kind of feels like you are a little bit.
Obama: I can’t take credit for it, but I’m just saying I was there early.
BS: I’m surprised you didn’t steer him toward the Bulls. [Laughter.] He was floating around and getting waived by teams.
Obama: Well, we’ve got this pretty good point guard on the Bulls as well. So he might not have gotten as much PT as he did.
But look, it’s a great story. And what’s interesting is the fact that somehow folks were missing it in practice. I mean, that’s what’s interesting. Because you got to assume that during scrimmages he was running that pick-and-roll pretty well. And it is a terrific story. He seems like a wonderful young man. And, look, it elevates this great sport all around the world. It can't hurt ratings for basketball in China.
BS: But at the same time you’re a little worried as a Bulls fan, because he’s in the Eastern Conference —
Obama: I’m not worried.
Say what you will about Obama’s economic policies, foreign relations strategies and inability to work with the Congress, but you have to respect a man who knows about hoops the way he does. Too bad Simmons couldn’t get an interview with him when Dwyane Wade was toying with Chicago and pretending that he was interested in joining the Bulls, Obama was probably contemplating handing him jailtime at that point.