During Wednesday night’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the former President of the United States Barack Obama made an appearance in the arena’s virtual fan section.
As the Los Angeles Lakers went on to beat the Miami Heat in a 116-98 victory, the NBA had a surprise in store. While millions of fans around the world watched the NBA championship, a strong group of stars were in attendance to witness the festivities virtually.
The NBA created a virtual section of 17 former champions to watch the NBA Finals opener. The list included Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Bill Walton, Shaquille O’Neal, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and more.
However, one star stole the limelight as he entered the large virtual screen – the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. He joined the group during a break in action that was televised in place of other commercials.
The former Illinois senator posted a short video of the virtual interaction on his Twitter account.
Barack Obama Thanks Poll Workers, Encourages Voting
Obama sat directly in the middle of the virtual fan bleachers with the former champions. In addition to the impressive group of NBA stars, the virtual fan bleachers included 40 first-time poll workers. The short event was part of a larger effort by the NBA to connect fans with nonpartisan voting resources. Also, players wore warm-up shirts with the word “VOTE” on them before the conference finals. The players will continue wearing them throughout the finals, as well.
The former president stopped by for a few minutes to talk about the election and to encourage people to get out and vote. He began by giving a shoutout to all volunteer poll workers. Additionally, Obama took a couple questions – one from a poll worker and one from NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal.
After the big game, the Lakers’ LeBron James showed his appreciation to Obama for taking time to speak with the virtual crowd and fans at home.
Obama was a well-known basketball fan during his eight years in office. He even attended NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago this past February. He also met with players during the NBA boycott in August amid social unrest across the nation. Obama spoke to NBA star LeBron James and others about continuing to play so their voices were heard.