Wisconsin forward Bohannon triggers meeting with Barack Obama
Wisconsin forward Zach Bohannon began the campaign as a joke on twitter. His goal: To get Barack Obama to play pickup with the Badgers on Thursday while he was in Madison. Bohannon didn't get to play ball with the President, but he and his teammates did get to meet Obama.
Zach Bohannon didn't give it much thought at first. Wisconsin's junior forward, who transferred from Air Force a year ago and sat out this past season, just started shooting off tweets.
"sir, release some stress after your big debate tonight & come get a run in w/ the #Badgers basketball team tomorrow!"
There were many more. Bohannon estimates somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 in total, in hopes of trying to get Barack Obama, an avid basketball player and fan, to join the Badgers in a pickup game on Thursday while he was in town for a speech.
"The tweets really picked up steam," said Bohannon, a Republican who has aspirations of getting into politics one day.
Through the athletics department and the Chancellor's office, the message reached the White House staff. However, Bohannon knew it was a long shot. However, teammate George Marshall, expected to take the reigns from Jordan Taylor as the starting point guard this season, had a connection to Obama. He's called his former summer teammate, Harvard's Alex Nesbitt, whose father Martin is close with Obama.
"He got us VIP passes," Bohannon said.
Bo Ryan changed practice time and the players met at the Kohl Center a little before 2 p.m., walked a couple blocks and were taken to a special VIP room with about 100 other people - including Senator Herb Kohl, who also owns the Milwaukee Bucks. They were then, shortly prior to Obama's arrival, instructed to turn off their cell phones.
Then the President came in the room, immediately pointed to the Badgers team and imitated his left-handed jump shot.
"We all got to shake his hand and take a picture with him," Bohannon said. "It was awesome. Unbelievable."
Obama commented on the Badgers homecourt advantage at the Kohl Center, he gave senior guard Dan Fahey advice on his upcoming LSAT's and even mentioned Harvard and its academic scandal.
"He was just like a regular, normal guy," Bohannon said. "He said he didn't have time to play pickup, but that he'd come back after the election and play with us."
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