INDIANAPOLIS, IND.—Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Tuesday continued his election day tradition of playing basketball—only to get battered after accidently getting knocked to the ground by Alexi Giannoulias, the Illinois State Treasurer.
Obama chief strategist David Axelrod—who also played in the pick-up game—said Obama was hit in the chest when he got in the way of the shoulder of Giannoulias as the former pro player drove to the basket.
Giannoulias “bashed the ribs of the next president of the United States,” Axelrod said. Obama “was knocked down.”
Though Obama was bruised, Axelrod said he did not see a doctor.
Obama has played basketball since he was a kid and starting with the Iowa caucus vote in January, Obama has played basketball on election day. Giannoulias, who is close to Obama--has joined him in several of these election day games. On the campaign trail, he often plays pick-up games with staff and Secret Service agents.
Usually reluctant to let reporters see him play these pickup games—with exceptions to carefully selected media—Obama made displaying his basketball talents a part of his Indiana campaign, especially since he’s got game on the court. Obama does now bowl and in Pennsylvania he awkwardly went bowling in a pitch to middle class voters and rolled a 37 for seven frames.
Hoosiers are as crazy about as basketball as Indy cars, Obama’s photo ops of his pick-up games made news.
On Tuesday, Obama played at a gym on the Indianapolis campus of Indiana University. Team Obama players included:
*Axelrod, who has played pick-up basketball for years.
*Giannoulias, a former pro who played a year in Greece.
*Reggie Love, Obama’s “body man,” his traveling aide and frequent pick-up game partner. Love is a former member of the Duke basketball and football teams. Love was on the 2001 Duke national championship basketball team and played with the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers.
*Eric Whitaker, a doctor who is frequently on the Obama campaign plane is the executive vice president for strategic affiliations and associate dean for community-based research at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Before that, he was the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
*Marty Nesbitt, one of Obama’s best friends who is the treasurer of the Obama presidential campaign. Nesbitt is the CEO of the Parking Spot.
*Marvin Nicholson, the director of advance for the Obama campaign, who was the “body man” for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) during his 2004 presidential campaign.
*Several supporters, who Axelrod did not identify.