Craig Robinson’s Election Day experience was unlike that of any other Division 1 college basketball coach in the nation.
Of course, no other D-1 college hoops coach is also the brother-in-law of the President.
On the biggest day of the year for Barack Obama — and the nation — Robinson was coaching the President’s pickup basketball team.
“We had our traditional game but I did not play. I was his assistant coach. He played,” the Oregon State coach said Monday on a conference call to promote the 2K Sports Classic Championship Thursday and Friday at Madison Square Garden. On Thursday, Oregon State faces Alabama and Villanova meets Purdue. The winners square off on Friday.
“I was too worried about getting hurt before our first game, and I’m so conscious about not having the family stuff interfere with my team that I didn’t want to end up twisting an ankle or ripping an Achilles’ or having a knee blow out and not being able to get back for a game that was going to be a day and a half later,” added Robinson, whose team is 2-0 coming into the Garden
Robinson spent Election Day with his sister, Michelle Obama, and the President watching the returns.
“We were all together watching the returns in downtown Chicago so all I had to do was go shake his hand,” Robinson said. “He was sitting on the couch right by me so I didn’t have to go very far to congratulate him.
“We were really hunkered down ready for a long night of kind of battling through the battleground states, and as it turned out the election was called only 15 minutes later that it was four years ago.” The election was called at about 11:15 p.m. EST.
Basketball has always been a big part of life for Craig and his sister. He grew up playing ball and ultimately became the fourth-all-time leading scorer in Princeton history.
“My sister begrudgingly had to go to a whole lot of basketball games her whole life,” Robinson said of the First Lady. “She’s a big fan, obviously. She knows what’s going on. And when we’re not doing well and I see her number light up, I know she’s calling to give me a few tips.”
As for the President’s game, Robinson was asked to assess it.
“Well, if I was watching him in an AAU tournament, I’d be in one of those satellite gyms way out in Vegas,” he said.
“The strength of his game now is his outside shot. He used to really like to go to the basket, but there have been a couple of mishaps. As we get a little older, we get a little nervous about going in there amongst the elbows. He’s a left-hander who goes left…He’s better going left. And you talk about a student of the game, he really is a student of the game.
“When you play, I think it’s in your blood and he knows a lot about what’s going on, so he’s more of a floor general now than he is a scorer.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.