Potomac Playground Patter:
Player-Coach Barack Obama (6’1″) continues to build a strong basketball bench for his new DC team, adding Chicago’s Arne Duncan (6’5′) at Secretary of Education and Shooting Guard/Small Forward positions. Mr. Duncan co-captained the Harvard team, and played for the Rhode Island Gulls and New Jersey Jammers (USBL).
While he didn’t make the cut for the Celtics, Arne Duncan played Australian ball with Latrobe in the North-West Tasmania League and Melbourne’s old Eastside Spectres in the National Basketball League. When not shooting hoops with Mr. Obama, Mr. Duncan works for the Windy City’s public schools.
Here are facts, opinions, and rumors from around the Web:
“He was one of the most intelligent players, of the imported players, I’ve ever brought out – in terms of understanding the game,” his first coach, Brian Goorjian, said …. Gerard Wright and Michael Cowley, “Basketball star in the court of Washington,” Sydney Morning Herald
He had great communication skills on the court. He could help teach during practise. ….he was also interested in … our school program and, you know ,helping us getting kids introduced to basketball and joining suburb teams. … when he got … on the court with kids, he had a warm heart, a kindness about him and a special gift with kids and parents. — Brian Goorjian, now head coach of the South Melbourne Dragons, interviewed by Simon Lauder, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Obama spoke of Duncan in glowing terms – and joked that his longtime friend, a former professional basketball player in Australia, had the superior jump shot. …. –“Obama chooses Chicago schools chief Ed. Secretary,” Associated Press, via the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette
Mr Obama’s brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, was a teammate of Mr Duncan’s on a team that used to dominate local three-on-three tournaments during the early 1990s. — Gerard Wright and Lorna Edwards, “Former basketballer moves to centre court on Obama’s team,” The Age
Arne … spent all his basketball playing time in inner city Chicago, seeking out and playing with the best. Inner city in Chicago means Polish-Americans and African Americans. … Arne wasn’t playing with the Polish kids [Ed. note: Mr. Duncan's his mother runs a center for urban kids ]. … Arne developed a manner of speaking that belied his ancestry. He sounded like “a brother”. Following his freshman year … Arne … got on the phone with a bunch of Ivy league schools and their basketball coaches. Sometime later … Tom Miller, head coach at Cornell was talking with Coach McLaughlin … and … asked, “who’s this, Arne Duncan ….” McLaughlin … gave his description of Arne and Miller said, “but he’s a black kid”. And McLaughlin said “no, he’s a white kid”. And Miller said again, “got to be a black kid, I talked with him”. And McLaughlin had to explain, “no, he just talks like that because that’s where he’s from”! — Steve Bzomowski, “Arne Duncan, Sec’y of Ed, The Basketball Player,” Never Too Late Basketball’s Tips & Tales [Ed note: A great post; read the full text].
I just want to dispel one rumour before I take questions. I did not select Arne because he’s one of the best basketball players I know. Although I will say that I think we are putting together the best basketball-playing cabinet in American history. — President-elect Barack Obama, quoted in Basketball Australia