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The Former President and well-known basketball fan Barack Obama attended the opening game of the NBA Finals on Sept. 30, 2020 — virtually.
Fans have had to view the games virtually since the coronavirus pandemic started as no one is allowed to attend live games. The league invites fans to watch matches and have their reactions stream on the Disney campus in real-time. He was in the front row next to former Lakers stars Shaquille Oneal and James Worthy.
“I hear I’m sitting next to [Shaquille O’Neal],” Obama, 59, said in a fun video as he surprised his virtual seatmates, which also included Dwyane Wade as well as a group of 40 first-time poll workers. “I wanted to come on to shout all the folks who are volunteering as poll workers in this upcoming election. It can be a thankless job, it’s not one of those things you think about but it is absolutely vital for a democracy and I appreciate you.”
The 44th president and celebrities were not the only people part of the crowd thanks to Lebron James and Udonis Haslem, they both selected first-time poll workers in the upcoming election in November to be part of the audience.
Obama has been a follower and supporter of college basketball and the NBA. In February, during All-star weekend, he spoke with the players and encouraged them to continue being a voice for social injustice. He also spoke with them about City Year, an organization that helps students develop the skills and mindsets to contribute to communities.
He used this opportunity to tell the people watching the game how important it is to vote, he said:
Democracy doesn’t work if just a few people do it, It’s critical that everybody votes in this election by mail or in person if you can.
The first face-off was between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat, the Lakers won 116-98. Other attendees included Bill Walton, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Isiah Thomas, Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Manu Ginobili, Paul Gasol, Ray Allen, Robert Horry, Robert Parish, Chauncey Billups, and Paul Pierce.
Written by Jessica Letcher
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
People: Barack Obama Virtually Attends Game 1 of NBA Finals, Surprising Group of First-Time Poll Workers; Maria Pasquini
USA Today: Former President Barack Obama a virtual fan for Game 1 of the NBA Finals between Lakers and Heat; Jeff Zillgitt
CNN: Barack Obama makes surprise virtual appearance as LA Lakers blowout Miami Heat in Game 1 of NBA Finals; Calum Trenaman
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