Since its foundation in 1946, the NBA has become as much an American establishment as our own democracy. Sports columnist Matt Barnthouse, a political science major, highlights this in his column comparing some of your favorite NBA stars with some memorable politicians.
JR Smith: Joe Biden
JR Smith and Joe Biden are lovable goofballs. Take a contested 3-point shot five seconds into the shot clock? That’s good ol’ JR! Accidentally whisper an f-bomb on national television? That’s good ol’ Joe. They aren’t the most refined in the way they handle life, but they are perhaps the most genuine.
Zaza Pachulia: Bernie Sanders
Pachulia has a large cult following but lost out on the All-Star game due to those darn superdelegates.
LeBron James: Barack Obama
Both icons, generally inoffensive and representative of an era in history. Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign revolutionized the way campaigns were handled, as well as his use of small donations. LeBron James revolutionized the game in his own way with his unique combination of size, speed, athleticism and basketball IQ.
Derrick Rose: Herbert Hoover
Derrick Rose is a walking version of the Great Depression. A great boom in athletic ability turned into a shell of his former self. Much like Hoover’s resistance to changing policy, Rose is resistant to change his game to his now less-athletic body.
Cody Zeller: Mike Pence
Cody Zeller is perhaps the dorkiest person in the NBA. Mike Pence is perhaps the dorkiest person to ever hold the position of vice president. Both are soft-spoken and shamelessly awkward.
Tony Allen: Teddy Roosevelt
Teddy Roosevelt once finished a campaign speech after getting shot. Tony Allen would probably finish a game with a severed arm if he had to. It is only natural for the toughest president of all time to be compared to the toughest player in the NBA.
Kawhi Leonard: Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge was perhaps the most quiet president in the history of the United States. Kawhi Leonard is perhaps the quietest superstar in the NBA. Both Coolidge and Leonard rely on doing the simple things right, as well as efficiency.
The Entire Early 2000s Portland Trailblazers: Warren G. Harding
The “Jail Blazer” era of Portland fits well with the “Ohio Gang” of the Harding administration. Rip City was plagued with a series of foolish arrests, mostly involving controlled substances. Warren G. Harding’s administration in the early 1920s was about as corrupt as they come. The White House was filled with controlled substances during this prohibition-era presidency, the Teapot Dome scandal and plenty of mistresses. Warren G. Harding was a one-of-a-kind train wreck, just like the Jail Blazers.