Despite having exited the White House for close to three years ago now, former US President Barack Obama still generates almost as much respect as he did when he was in office.
An example of this could clearly be seen during Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors.
When the 57-year-old former president showed up on the Jumbotron, the whole crowd erupted in cheers, with many chanting “MVP, MVP” while giving Obama, an avid basketball fan, a standing ovation.
He sat beside NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and was also greeted by Drake, who is a Raptors mega-fan when he arrived.
A video on Twitter that was shared by SportsCenter showed the 32-year-old rapper and the former president shaking hands while smiling as they did so.
When the Warriors ended up defeating the Raptors, 109-104, Drake looked less than pleased but Obama opted to stay neutral and praised both teams.
The Washington Post quoted him as saying, “Both teams play like teams. So their superstars are unselfish and just want results. Lesson Two is both teams draw from talent that is unexpected and international. … If you don’t know where the talent’s going to be, you have to give an opportunity to everybody.”
Obama’s neutral stance is not surprising considering he has a personal connection to both teams. Obama has collaborated with Raptors team president Masai Ujiri, a native of Nigeria who headed the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program in Africa. Ujiri was with the former president in Kenya last year at a basketball-oriented event for the benefit of a foundation created by Obama’s half-sister.
On the other hand, Obama and the 31-year-old Stephen Curry are friends and both have gone on golf outings and worked on charity events together.
Obama was in Canada the whole weekend meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who he saw at an Ottawa brewery on Friday.
Many thought Trudeau, 47, would also make an appearance but opted not to do so.