President Barack Obama – Inside the NBA: Interview with Obama

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[Charles Barkley]
Thanks for taking the time.

[President Obama]
It's great to be with you, Chuck.

[Charles Barkley]
It's an awesome weekend for us. And for you to taking your time out of your busy schedule, I really appreciate it.

[President Obama]
I'd only do it for TNT and NBA basketball because I'm a big fan.

[Charles Barkley]
Thank you. So, I know you're a big basketball fan. I never thought I'd say this, but watching LeBron James play at the peak of his superpowers is an amazing debate. I never thought I would say, "This guy could be as good as Michael Jordan."

[President Obama]
You know LeBron. I know LeBron. When you're standing next to him and then you watch him close up, I've never seen somebody that size; that fast; who can jump that high; who's that strong; who has that much basketball savvy all in one package. So we don't know yet where he's going to be. Now, I'm a Chicago guy, and Mike will always be the guy for me, just because that was a magical moment for the city, and he was a champion. But Mike's now retired. LeBron, when you look at him, you think he might be able to play at a high level for another 7, 8, 10 years. He's only 29 years old. In terms of every aspect of the game, LeBron has a chance to be as good as anybody.

[Charles Barkley]
You play basketball, obviously. How often do you get to play basketball now?

[President Obama]
You know, these days, it's probably once a month. You know, things happen. One is you just get a little older and creakier. The second thing is you got to start thinking about elbows and you breaking your nose right before a State of the Union address. What's been fun is watching Sasha, who's playing basketball now; she's in 7th grade.

[Charles Barkley]
I had a struggle watching my daughter play basketball, because I wanted her to be really really good. Where are you on that parent/fan meter?

[President Obama]
Well, I think there's a difference if you're a Hall of Famer: you probably have a higher standard than somebody who was a good high school player.

[Charles Barkley]
Speaking of the State of the Union, you had Jason Collins there, this week, Michael Sam came out. And I saw the first lady call his decision courageous. What do you think about that?

[President Obama]
I really like the fact that Michael did it before the draft, because his attitude was, "You know what? I know who I am, I know I can play great football, and judge me on the merits.

[Charles Barkley]
Speak about Attorney General Holder announced the same-sex benefits package last week.

[President Obama]
Think about basketball. I mean, think about what the NBA was before African Americans were allowed to play on an equal footing. You think about some of the stories that-- even folks like Oscar Robertson tell what they've been through. You think about what Jackie Robinson ended up meaning, not just to baseball, but to the entire society. I wouldn't be sitting here it weren't for him. I think America's stronger where everybody's being treated with respect and dignity.

[Charles Barkley]
What do you think of the term "ObamaCare"?

[President Obama]
I like it; I don't mind. And I tell you, 5 years from now, and everybody's saying, "Man, I'm glad we got healthcare," there are going to be a whole bunch of people who don't call it ObamaCare anymore because they don't want me to get the credit. But you don't know what life will throw at you. And sometimes people don't recognize-- particularly young people-- how important it is to have coverage until you get sick and you realize you may lose everything you have, or your parents may lose everything they have trying to make you well. So we're encouraging people to sign up. They've got until March 31st to sign up for this year.

[Charles Barkley]
So if you could speak to a specific group, and I guess you're talking about young adults--

[President Obama]
Folks our age, I mean, I wouldn't call us old yet, but--

[Charles Barkley]
We're knocking on the door.

[President Obama]
We're knocking on the door. So once you're 50, you wake up sometimes-- do you ever wake up and you sometimes-- does this ever happen to you, Chuck: you wake up and something hurts, and you don't know exactly what happens?

[Charles Barkley]
Everything hurts when I wake up.

[President Obama]
When you were young, you actually had to have an injury before something hurts. We'd actually like to encourage young people to sign up partly because, since they're healthier, their premiums are generally going to be fairly cheap. They can find good options for less than their cable bill, less than their cell phone bill, and it's just part of growing up: making sure that you're taking care of your body, taking care of your health. And if you got a young family, you've got to make sure your family is protected with health insurance, as well. And this allow you to do it.

[Charles Barkley]
You have a really exciting initiative coming up called "My Brother's Keeper". Explain that, because when they explain it to me, it sounds amazing, but I'd like to hear it from you.

[President Obama]
We're going to pull together private philanthropist foundations, working with mayors; governors; churches; and not-profits, and we're just going to focus on young men of color and find ways in which we can create more pathways for success for them. We're not going to create a big new government program, but we're going to work with communities; businesses-- so whether it's helping to set up early childhood education so that young people can read early, or it is creating mentorship programs and apprenticeship programs so that a young person can get exposed to what a career is like in a factory as a machinist where you're getting paid $30-35 an hour but you may not even know that that option is available. Across the board, from the time they're young all the way through their first job, we want to help more African American men, more Latino men to succeed.

[Charles Barkley]
Thank you for taking the time.

[President Obama]
I had a great time, man.

[Charles Barkley]
Thank you very much.

[President Obama]
You're welcome. Don't give Shaq such a hard time.

[Charles Barkley]
I got to.

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