Speed Read: Even In Sports, It’s All About Obama

Let’s face it: For the next four years, the most important man in the free world will be Barack Obama. Yes, it sounds like Osama, and his middle name is Hussein, but as of slightly past noon today, he’ll be the president of the United States. So it shouldn’t be a shock to any of us that prominent athletes are jumping on the unstoppable Obama gravy train, taking advantage of the best ticket in town right now — single seats at the inauguration are going for upwards of $20,000 at the moment — and whether they played a role in getting him elected or not, they’re all happy to celebrate a moment in history.

Barack Obama

As we reported right here last week, Tiger Woods was first to get in on the action, speaking at the free “We Are One” concert extravaganza put on by HBO on Sunday in front of the Lincoln Memorial. It should come as no surprise that El Tigre spent most of his comments genuflecting upon his own childhood and his father’s military background, but that was still a positive contribution to an important day, and one small step toward a more politically relevant best golfer in history. Still, the best line of all came from the crowd. If you listen to the background chatter, there are isolated exclamations of “Fore!” in the video below.

That’s more than we can say for Dexter Manley, who’s hopping on this Obama bandwagon awful late. The legendary Redskins star voted for Obama, but that’s the first Democratic vote he’s cast in his entire life.

dexter manley barack obama poster
(This is all an odd joke. Dexter Manley actually did vote for Obama.)

That shouldn’t be surprising, considering the fact that Manley was practically an unofficial drug czar for the Reagan administration in the ’80s. Yet you wouldn’t know it from this quote Manley gave to THE WASHINGTON POST’s Dan Steinberg:

“I think it’s a divine thing,” Manley said. “I think it’s divine. It’s the way God wanted it. This is bigger than political stuff. As Sam Cooke said, ‘Change is Gonna Come.’ Change HAS come, but it’s not gonna happen in one administration. It’s gonna take many administrations. It’s easy to put people in office, but it’s difficult to change attitudes, and people here must change attitudes, because it’s a new America.”

So there you go. Evidently it’s ok to be a major backer of multiple Republican administrations, then flip the script as soon as it’s politically expedient to do so. Or maybe he’s legitimately changed. Whichever, Manley’s transformation has brought about some significant action, even if it’s only for one man.

And just as the Tiger Woods-Dexter Manley regression was a step down on the influence ladder, so too is Dexter Manley to Philadelphia 76ers point guard Andre Miller. Despite not voting in the last presidential election, Miller is making a full day of the inauguration and all its assorted festivities. Here’s the full synopsis from the DELAWARE COUNTY TIMES:

Miller, who didn’t vote in the November election, is off to Washington, D.C., to see President-elect Barack Obama sworn in as the first black president of the United States. The tickets came through a contact at the University of Utah. He plans to make a full day of it, too, from the swearing in, to the celebrations. … “I think I’m supposed to be going to a Hillary Clinton function, like a night function, like a formal dinner or something,” Miller said. “I’m not sure yet. I’ll find out more.” … Miller said he has followed politics for a long time, even if he doesn’t actively participate. But he finds this occasion truly special.

Also worth noting on the Miller front: He’s buddies with extremely elderly Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. Yup, another politically expedient athlete. What a shock.There’s little doubt that both LeBron James and Kobe Bryant were Obama backers last November. That didn’t mean they had to get along when facing off last night though. Kobe’s crew got the best of the matchup, but it wasn’t primarily because of No. 8 No. 24 himself. Instead, Pau Gasol’s 22 points and both Sasha Vujacic and Andrew Bynum’s 14 points apiece helped make up for Bryant struggling through a dislocated ring finger. We use the term “struggling” liberally, since he still scored a whopping 20 points while adding 12 assists.

Oh, that LeBron guy? He chipped in 23 points and nine rebounds, though he suffered through yet another really poor shooting night (9-of-25). Do Cleveland fans have to start worrying about a Bron-Bron slump? Maybe, though games like last night against almost any team except the Lakers will still probably yield a win. It’s worth noting. Also worth noting: You’ll probably get something more from Brooks about this puppy a little later today. We hear he had good seats.

Caca may be Spanish for poop, but Kaka has become the Brazilian embodiment of the Portugese phrase for brilliant. Still, there’s something that seems less than brilliant about turning down the opportunity to earn $150,000 a week. That’s exactly what the Brazilian who openly claims he belongs to Jesus did yesterday, turning down a massive transfer bid by British side Manchester City because, quite frankly, he really didn’t want to play for a mediocre team.

kaka milan
(Kaka: What belongs to Jesus will stay in Milan.)

In the sum total of sports, this should be a great, borderline heartwarming story. But it also seems like a crazy one, too. Kaka not only turned down a massive weekly salary to stay in Italy, he also cost his team, A.C. Milan, some $150 million in the process. That is an unbelievable boatload of cash in a recession, particularly when your club is owned by the country’s president who may or may not have mortgaged a lot of his wealth to fund a re-election campaign. Good luck getting that back, Meeeelan.

Which athlete is most likely to make a TV cameo appearance during today’s inauguration?

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