Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Stephen Colbert challenges President Obama to some wastepaper basketball trash talk

President Barack Obama, Stephen Colbert
President Barack Obama, Stephen Colbert
Screenshot: The Late Show

During his infamously short tenure as White House Press Secretary, Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci once heaped some suspiciously North Korean dictator praise on the supposed athletic skills of his then-boss, claiming that he’d seen Donald Trump sinking MSG baskets like Ray Allen, among other superhuman claims concerning the outgoing fast food-addict-in-chief. Scaramucci’s since turned on one-term presidential loser and guy who infamously cheats at the one sport he actually plays Trump, but there’s one President nobody has to lie for when it comes to the basketball court, and he sat down with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday.

President Barack Obama—talking in person but safely distant with The Late Show host—did all the usual former head of state chat first, about his high hopes for the incoming Biden-Harris administration, the sheer, unthinkable, “shambolic” incompetence of the Trump White House in responding to COVID, and, naturally, his new, best-selling book, A Promised Land. Colbert even closed out the all-Obama episode with a typically striking performance of The Beatles’ “Revolution” from recently-lauded multiple Grammy nominee Brittany Howard, one of the former President’s favorite singers. But it wasn’t all shop talk and command performances from Colbert, as he ended his three segments with Obama with an in-your-face challenge.

Noting the former Prez’s legendary competitiveness, especially on the basketball court, Colbert unveiled two piles of crumpled paper, pointed at a wire trash barrel across the room, and told his illustrious guest to put up or shut up. No, he didn’t actually say that, but he might as well have, since, as recent video evidence has shown, Obama will sink a three on his way out the door, shrug, and tell the gathered onlookers, including his former Vice President, “That’s what I do.” So, you know, those are some big balls Colbert’s got in challenging his guest—literally, as a wary Obama noted upon comparing the size of each man’s balls. (Colbert’s compact blue script paper projectiles looked to have a significant ballistic advantage, while Obama’s legal pad shooters looked positively puffy in comparison.) Still, a bet’s a bet. (Colbert getting a mention in Obama’s follow-up book vs. a Colbert donation to the Barack Obama Presidential Library.)


As to the outcome, well, somebody wound up boasting, “That’s what I do!” after completing a thoroughly sound trouncing in the ensuing competition. Honestly, it wasn’t even close, and, even if nobody’s going to spoil the ending here, it is worth noting that the losing competitor didn’t demand a recount, whine incessantly that the game was rigged, or, you know, attempt to destroy the entire thing just to salve his wounded ego.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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