Obama’s Hoop Dreams

Barack Obama just sunk a three-point shot from mid-court and his presidency isn’t even one day old. The Senate voted … Continued

Barack Obama just sunk a three-point shot from mid-court and his presidency isn’t even one day old. The Senate voted to release the remaining TARP funds so that the incoming Obama administration can literally hit the ground running and begin the rescue of our sinking economy.

Basketball is a perfect metaphor for the man who had the audacity to hope that America could actually live up to its promises. When you watch the YouTube clip of Obama playing basketball with U.S. troops in Kuwait and sinking a three-point shot, it looks effortless.

It isn’t. A lot of basketball is played under the basket and sharp elbows are frequently involved. Watch the YouTube clip of Obama playing three-on-three in Porter, IN and you can see how he uses his elbows under the basket. Many were shocked that Obama would threaten a veto this early in the game. Get used to it. The country is way, way behind in points and Obama will do what is necessary to get us to a win. A lot of work went into getting those votes in the Senate.

This Monday, many speeches will be given about how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the dreamer, and Barack Obama is the dream fulfilled. Many of those speeches will be given by people who are content to continue to sit in the bleachers and congratulate themselves and the country on a great win. Forget that. The real game is the on-going struggle for justice and equality and it’s played down on the court and mostly under the basket.

Celebrations of Dr. King’s legacy are often littered with dream-rhetoric that actually betrays the work of Dr. King. The dream-rhetoric is used to soften his challenge and make it appear effortless. The text of the “I Have a Dream” speech tells a very different story. It’s a hard-hitting speech about dashed dreams and promises honored only in the breach. Dr. King’s dream was that African Americans would someday be able to cash the promissory note of the Constitution, that all are created equal. So far, King said forthrightly, the check keeps coming back “insufficient funds.”

I like the fact that Barack Obama, like Dr. King, is unafraid to take the shot from downtown. But what I like best about Barack Obama, and in this as well he resembles King, is that he is in the game to win it and he’ll throw the necessary elbow to get us there. And he means all of us.

In Grant Park in Chicago, on the night he was elected President, Barack Obama said, “I promise you, we will get there together.”

The presidency of Barack Obama fulfills the truth of what Dr. King taught. It’s everybody’s dream. As King said, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality”.

The game is a decent life for all. That is Obama’s hoop dream.

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