By any measure, Barack Obama has had a long litany of accomplishments during his lifetime. He was only 28 when he became the first black man elected to be the head of Harvard’s Law Review. He was 33 when he wrote the bestselling memoir, Dreams From My Father, and went on to become a U.S. senator from Illinois and win a Nobel Peace Prize.
Oh, and he was the 44th President of the United States, from 2009-2017.
Yet when he was interviewed on the ESPN mega-documentary, “The Last Dance,” he got a strange three-word identifier: Former Chicago Resident.
Considering that Chicago has had a population of about 3 million people going back 80 years or so, there are many, many former Chicago residents. There are not, however, many former Chicago residents who have been President.
The wiseacres on Twitter had fun with “The Last Dance” nomenclature.
Even the Bulls’ official Twitter account got in on it:
Why Obama, Bill Clinton Have Strange Identifiers
Now, in defense of the producers of the series, which covers the final season of the Bulls’ dynasty in 1997-98, the decision was made to identify those interviewed by their connection to the story, not by the accomplishments for which they later became known.
The documentary also took some ribbing for calling Bill Clinton, “Former Arkansas Governor.” Clinton was, of course, the President for most of the 1990s, but in his interview, he discussed seeing Scottie Pippen play when he was in high school in Arkansas in the 1980s. At that time, Clinton was the Arkansas governor.
Director Jason Hehir explained to The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch that one of the tensions in creating the series was the notion of having famous people appear for no other reason than their fame. He wanted appearances that were somehow connected to the story:
That was an interesting part of this whole thing. The good thing is that we all have the common goal – that it should be fantastic and everyone should enjoy watching it. I think the temptation would be to say, well, Bill Clinton was president in the 1990s. He has to talk about Michael because he was the President when Michael was playing and he saw Michael play live. My question was, okay, what is Bill Clinton going to say that is different than any other fan would say about watching Michael play? Why should he be considered an authority on basketball just because he’s Bill Clinton? Now if Bill Clinton says I was governor of Arkansas when Scottie Pippen was in high school and I saw Scottie play, that’s organic to the story and much more interesting.
Obama, Michael Jordan Have a Long History
As for Obama, he had thoughts on Jordan going back to his time as a community organizer in Chicago.
“When Michael first came to town, I didn’t have the money to buy tickets for Bulls games, even the discount ones back in the day,” Obama said. “I was pretty broke, but suddenly you have a sports figure that puts Chicago on the map and that everybody was able to rally around.”
Obama would later become friends with Jordan and awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2014, Jordan was asked with whom he’d most like to play golf. He responded with Obama and Arnold Palmer.
“I’d take him out,” Jordan said of Obama’s golf game. “He’s a hack. It would be all day playing with him.”
A little harsh way to be talking about the President, no?
“I never said he wasn’t a great politician,” Jordan went on to say. “I’m just saying he’s a s— golfer.”