Having already played on an aircraft carrier and at an air force base, you'd think there wouldn't exist a cooler government site for the Michigan State Spartans to play a basketball game.
Well, you'd be wrong.
In fact, according to a report from the Detroit Free Press, Michigan State athletics director Mark Hollis — the driving force behind those previous unique locations — was close to getting the Spartans to hoop it up at the White House. The game would've been played at the start of the 2016-17 season, just a few months before the end of President Barack Obama's tenure in office.
So what's derailed the planned game? That would be the firing of Craig Robinson, Obama's brother-in-law, from the head-coaching position at Oregon State. The Beavers were to be the Spartans' opponent for the game on Pennsylvania Avenue, a fitting one considering Obama's connection to the Oregon State program. But that connection no longer exists, and while it sounds as if the game isn't quite out of the question yet, Robinson's departure deals the chances of the game a blow.
From the Free Press' Joe Rexrode:
“You’re always looking to explore unique opportunities for student-athletes, and that was one we were looking at,” Hollis told the Free Press of the event that he devised as a way to honor Obama’s eight years in office. “It wasn’t a done deal, but it was one of the dreams. And it was very doable, in terms of logistics.”
Obama, of course, is a huge basketball fan. He fills out his NCAA tournament bracket on ESPN each year, and he was on hand for that game on the aircraft carrier.
Hollis, meanwhile, continues to show a knack for creating basketball spectacles. Aside from those games at military installations, there've been Spartans hoops games in football stadiums, and there's that traveling roadshow that will see the Spartans — plus North Carolina, Texas and Florida — play in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles in 2018.
If Hollis is feeling really creative, there are some other options if the White House game doesn't pan out. In front of the Lincoln Memorial? At the base of the Statue of Liberty? Somehow suspended over the Grand Canyon? The possibilities are endless.