March 03, 2009
Unless you've been living under a rock (and it's okay to admit if you have, I'm told rent is cheap), you probably heard that President Barack Obama sat courtside at D.C.'s Verizon Center Friday night, watching his hometown Chicago Bulls take on the Washington Wizards.
The First Fan drank beer, read the game program and left early (with four minutes left) during a blowout. "All common American activity," as Tom Ziller put it, "except most of us don't sit courtside, nor are we important enough that the NBA will hold up a tip-off until we get to our seats." (Speak for yourself, Z!)
But Obama's night of "Joe Plumber Americana" didn't stop there. He also exchanged a few playful words with a diehard Wizards fan sitting a few rows back. Yes, that's right, the 44th President of the United States joined in a little trash talk. Awesome.
The vocal instigator: Miles Rawls (above, standing, "heckling"), the commissioner of the Barry Farms' Goodman League — a big-time summer circuit in Southeast D.C., which has starred Gilbert Arenas and Kevin Durant, among others.
Dan Steinberg of the D.C. Sports Bog, in a fun must-read, talked with Rawes about trading barbs with the President.
Here's a snippet from the interview:
[Rawls] said his chatter, like always, was unscripted, "right off the top of my head. I just had to see how he was gonna take it," Rawls said. "Once I knew he was a big trash talker, too, about them Bulls, that means the gloves came off." [...]
"I wasn't heckling the President and I don't heckle the players. I talk about their weaknesses. We was having a good time. He was talking trash and I was talking trash. I couldn't believe he was that laidback and real. I loved it."
And while they talked through much of the game, Rawls — who had never met a President — said no lines were crossed. "I wasn't disrespectful," he said. "I know my limits."
So, for example, he told the President that if he was rooting for the visitors, he was "gonna have to keep it to a low roar, because we're cheering for the Wizards over here." Obama, in turn, repeatedly needled Rawls about the Wizards' habit of letting leads evaporate, especially when the Bulls made a run.
"We was just going back and forth," Rawls said. "Once Chicago started coming back, he told me, 'Now I think you need to sit down.' When Tyrus Thomas dunked on somebody, he turned around, was talking smack. Then JaVale McGee had that alley-oop, and he gave me the high five. We was just supporting each others' team, having a good time."