A few weeks ago in an edition of “The Renaissance Fan Debates” we stumbled upon an incredible clip from the 2014 Celebrity Basketball Game which is part of the NBA All-Star Weekend. The feature of the clip is United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan playing for the East team. In these celebrity games you come to expect a bunch of B or C-listers lobbing up shots they have no business taking, making gimmicky passes, and generally yucking it up. But then there’s Arne Duncan. The Presidential Cabinet member, former superintendent of the Chicago School District, and Harvard grad can straight-up ball. But you don’t have to take my word for it, watch the clip:
Look at the skills on display here! The rebound at the 0:12 mark followed by the ball fake on Snoop for the put back! Then at the 0:24 second mark the steal that starts the fast break! President Obama could have easily slotted him in as Secretary of Defense! At 0:42 he demonstrates that he can be more disruptive to an offense than an east Coast blizzard is to busing routes. At 1:09 the midrange jumper. Not a sexy move, but effective, that’s a true nose-to-the-grindstone bureaucrat at work. The 1:14 mark is the highlight of the night, dishing out the no-look assist like funding for a low-income student meal program! The 20 point (a record for the NBA Celebrity Game), 11 rebound, 6 assist performance earned him the MVP of the game.We’re proud of ourselves for avoiding the most obvious pun thus far, but what the heck: “Arne Duncan just took everyone to school”.
Somewhat disappointingly, when you dig into Duncan’s story you quickly find out this is not a case of a mild mannered public servant with a secret talent, Arne Duncan was a ringer. He grew up playing hoops in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, then went on to captain the varsity squad at Harvard. After school he lived in Australia and played professionally for a spell. He even participated on the US men’s national 3 x 3 team and would have played in the FIBA World Championships 2014 if not for a work conflict. You know, because he was the US Secretary of Education, in case you forgot.
It’s fun to see someone with a pretty thankless job get recognized for one of their other talents. During his tenure as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan developed a program called “Common Core”, that simply identifies certain stuff that we expect kids to learn in school. But Common Core, and Duncan, have taken merciless criticism. The stress of the day job must make it even more fun for Duncan when he gets a chance to step out of his suit and tie and play ball. Because of his stellar play there will always be some that will remember Arne Duncan not as the Secretary of Education, but as the Secretary of Ballin’.
Kind of makes you wonder: What other athletic talent lies in the Presidential Cabinet?
Secretary of the interior Sally Jewell can reportedly shred on a snowboard.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack looks like he probably bowls in the 190-220 range.
And while there is no way to confirm it, we KNOW Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz is a ping-pong phenom.