Obama brother-in-law goes back to basketball

January 23, 2009 7:11:59 PM PST
Stanford is hosting Oregon State's basketball team Saturday night and the visitor's coach has quite a resume. He coached at Brown and was a two-time Ivy League player of the year at Princeton. However, there is yet another angle to Coach Craig Robinson that reaches all the way to the White House.

They say you can tell quite a lot about a man by the way he plays basketball.

"You can tell if a guy is a cheater, if a guy is selfish. You can tell a lot about a guy by the way he plays pick-up basketball," said Craig Robinson, head coach at Oregon State, who has sized up players most of his life. Seventeen years ago he did it for family when his sister, Michelle, had questions about a guy she had begun dating.

Robinson: "She asked me to take him to play basketball."

Freedman: "Did he know what was up?"

Robinson: "No. Not at all."

But maybe you do know by now, because his name was Barack Obama. Despite what you may have read, the president is not the best basketball player in his family. Not in terms of physical skills, anyway. But what about character?

Freedman: "How does the president play pick-up basketball?"

Robinson: "Quite honorably, lots of integrity. Very much a team player."

Without question, Robinson's life has changed in the last few months. Friday night was a good example. Before his Oregon State team upset Cal, the supposedly hostile Berkeley crowd gave him a standing ovation just for being the president's brother-in-law.

On Tuesday, Robinson was in Washington, watching his family swear into their new digs.

"As moving as seeing my family up there and seeing Barack take the oath of office, was seeing all of the people going past the Washington Monument," said Robinson.

Lastly, you may notice how Coach Robinson accidently referred to the president by his first name. That trend, he says, will not continue.

Robinson: "I will call him Mr. President as long as he is Mr. President, even though he doesn't want me to call him that. Just imagine if your brother-in-law was the president, you'd call him call him Mr. President just because he didn't want you to call him Mr. President?"You enjoy that?"

Freedman: "Do you enjoy calling him Mr. President?"

Robinson: "I love it."