Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson brings NBA showmanship to White House

President Obama
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson introduces President Obama during an event at the White House in Washington on Friday.
(Kristoffer Tripplaar POOL, EPA)

President Obama is used to getting a very earnest, often heartfelt introduction from a nervous ordinary person before he takes the podium for a speech.

But on Friday, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson broke the mold.

Introducing the president at a White House meeting with mayors, Johnson, a former NBA point guard, called the president “a really cool dude” and “a smooth president” who croons Al Green and slow jams the news with Jimmy Fallon.

“He’s even been known to talk a little hoop and maybe even play a little hoop,” Johnson said. “I thought I’d give him an introduction befitting to a star.”


At that point, Johnson took out his smartphone and began playing the Chicago Bulls introduction theme music made famous during the team’s Michael Jordan era. Soon the buttoned-down crowd gathered in the East Room of the White House was clapping along.

“Ladies and gentlemen, standing 6 foot 1, 180 pounds, southpaw from Columbia University, via Punahou High School in Honolulu,” Johnson boomed into the mic. “The point guard of Pennsylvania Avenue, the 44th president of the United States of America, Barack Obamaaaa!”

A grinning and laughing president took the lectern but was clearly a little thrown off by the unexpected showmanship.

“I would have thought that would bring back memories for Kevin -- playing that song,” Obama joked. (Johnson’s Phoenix Suns were once felled by the Jordan-led Bulls in the NBA finals.) The president then paused, unusually at a loss for words. 


“I have to say that that introduction is longer than my remarks and more exciting,” he said. “I’m feeling a little outshone here.”

For more White House coverage, follow @khennessey

Get our twice-weekly Politics newsletter