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Hoops and Politics: The NBA’s Campaign Team

Campaign season is the equivalent of the post season for Liberal Arts majors. This hoops junkie is no different. Other than a well-executed pick and roll, few things are more exciting than primary season. There is drama, stump speeches,  and mud slinging. Oh the humanity.

Some fans may not know that basketball has a proud political tradition. Suns star Kevin Johnson is the mayor of Sacramento (who just saved the Kings, I might add). Detroit mayor Dave Bing was a star for the Pistons. Former Knicks and Princeton baller Bill Bradley was a senator from New Jersey and ran for president in 2000.

Could any NBA players run a campaign today? Maybe. Grit, determination, and leadership count for a few things on the campaign trail.  If I was looking to build a campaign team from the current crop of pro ballers, here is where I would start.

Kevin Durant “The Candidate”: Kevin Durant is presidential material. Even though he hails from DC, he is the ultimate Washington outsider. OKC is not New York, Miami, or LA. Durant does his job with quiet purpose. His team, the Thunder plays like the common good in action. Political and ego points are an afterthought to winning basketball games. The Thunder do their job, and do it well. And Kevin makes it all possible.

-Durant 2024-

image via freedarko.com

Kyrie Irving “The Running Mate”: The first rule of vice presidents is that they don’t outshine the candidate. Kyrie is not among the NBA’s political elite, yet. However, running mates are usually up-and-comers with a bright future. Don’t forget that Ohio is also a swing state.

Kevin Love “The Attack Dog” : Every campaign needs someone to do the dirty work. Kevin does what is necessary, even if it isn’t pretty or popular. Offensive rebounds are the attack ads of the NBA. You need them if you want to get ahead. Love gets over four a game. He’s indispensable. And he doesn’t care who he steps on to get it done.

Grant Hill “The Spokesman”: This cagey veteran might be the smartest guy in the room. He stays on message and can craft a well structured response to the harshest of attacks.

Tim Duncan “The Manager” : When it all goes to pot, the campaign manager makes sure everything still runs smooth. However, you don’t want people talking about them more than the candidate. In reality, we don’t talk about Tim Duncan as much as we should. Duncan does his job without complaint, comment, or controversey. He knows when to tune it down and when to turn on the heat. And did we mention he can win?

image via blog.mysanantonio.com

Serge Ibaka “The Intern” : Every campaign needs interns to answer the phone and get the coffee. Stuff no one else wants to do. Good interns see what needs to be done and do just that. Serge saw that his team already had two superstars that could scored. He changed his game and now blocks more bills (balls) than the US Senate. A good campaign doesn’t happen without good interns. A good Thunder team doesn’t happen without Serge Ibaka.

Mikahil Prokorov “Super PAC” : Throwing money at everything is a tried and true campaign recipe. The NJ Nets owner isn’t afraid to throw money at the flashy (new Brooklyn arena) and the faulty (Travis Outlaw). When it doubt, just keep spending.

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