We already knew that former President Barack Obama once played such a competitive game of basketball he wound up needing 12 stitches to the lip, but recently, he opened up on what led to the gory situation.
Obama suffered the injury in 2010, when he took an elbow to the face during a Thanksgiving weekend pickup game; the blow came from Reynaldo Decerega of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. After the incident, Decerega asked the media to respect his privacy because, he said, “I didn’t want that to define my life.” Two-and-a-half years after the incident, he seemed to be at-peace and talked about it at length with Stan Grossfeld of the Boston Globe:
“I felt horrible,” said Decerega. “I’ve played basketball a million times in my life and I’ve never elbowed anybody. So the first time I do this, it’s to the President of the United States? What is the probability of that? Nil, right?”
But the former president and NBA superfan Obama is yet to fully move on. He recently opened upat a tech conference in Las Vegas hosted by security company Okta, telling his side of the story.
Obama told Okta CEO Todd McKinnon that he and his crew were playing a game of “old guys vs. young guys,” and that “we beat them all the time because they weren’t as smart as we were.” Decerega, one of the “young guys,” then upped his physical game, and the rest is history.
According to Obama, his wife Michelle had “no sympathy,” and lamented his “really idiotic” aggressive basketball game.
To make matters worse for Decerega, the White House photographer was on-site to catch “a frame by frame sequence of him elbowing me, knocking me down, and a bunch of people looking over me,” Obama said. Obama sent the picture to Decerega as a souvenir:
“I had it framed and sent it to the guy who felt terrible. I said to Joe [Biden], ‘the only guy who ever clocked the president and didn’t get arrested.’ True story,” he laughed.
Obama also revealed that the last time he played was during the 2016 election, because as he has gotten older, he has become concerned about more serious injury.
Addressing McKinnon, he added: “But I could still, probably take you, Todd. You look like you’re in great shape, but I don’t know if you can ball.”
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