U.S. President Barack Obama said he knew about Jeremy Lin’s basketball abilities long before the guard graduated from Harvard University and went from National Basketball Association bench-warmer to sudden fame with the New York Knicks.
Obama said in a podcast interview with ESPN affiliated sports website Grantland.com that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who was once captain of Harvard’s basketball team, told him about Lin “way back when.”
“What’s interesting is the fact that somehow folks were missing it in practice,” Obama said. “It is a terrific story. He seems like a wonderful young man. And, look, it elevates this great sport all around the world.”
Obama, who received a law degree from Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Harvard in 1991, said he watches the NBA via the League Pass program on his iPad, which provides live video of every game. He said he pays for the subscription himself.
Lin, a second-year player who had been a reserve for the Knicks after twice being cut by other franchises, has led New York to a 10-3 record since taking over at point guard on Feb. 4, helping the team rebound from a 8-15 start. Ticket prices and television ratings have skyrocketed during his run.
Last night, Lin scored 19 points and had 13 assists in a 120-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden.
Obama, a Chicago native and avowed Bulls’ fan, said he expects to someday welcome his hometown team to the White House as NBA champions.
“It hasn’t happened yet, but it will happen,” he said.
When asked if he was guaranteeing a title, Obama, who will be up for re-election in November, replied, “Well, I’ve got another five years here,” and then laughed.