The Audacity of Hoop

Basketball and the Age of Obama

Alexander Wolff
Book Cover

HC: $41.00
EAN: 978-1-4399-1309-3
Publication: Nov 15

192 pages
10 x 8
108 color photos, 22 halftones

The influence Barack Obama has had on basketball and vice versa, in essays and photographs


While basketball didn’t take up residence in the White House in January 2009, the game nonetheless played an outsized role in forming the man who did. In The Audacity of Hoop, celebrated sportswriter Alexander Wolff examines Barack Obama, the person and president, by the light of basketball. This game helped Obama explore his identity, keep a cool head, impress his future wife, and define himself as a candidate.

Wolff chronicles Obama’s love of the game from age 10, on the campaign trail—where it eventually took on talismanic meaning—and throughout his two terms in office. More than 125 photographs illustrate Obama dribbling, shooting free throws, playing pickup games, cooling off with George Clooney, challenging his special assistant Reggie Love for a rebound, and taking basketball to political meetings. There is also an assessment of Obama’s influence on the NBA, including a dawning political consciousness in the league’s locker rooms.

Sidebars reveal the evolution of the president’s playing style, “Baracketology”—a not-entirely-scientific art of filling out the commander in chief’s NCAA tournament bracket—and a timeline charts Obama’s personal and professional highlights.

Equal parts biographical sketch, political narrative, and cultural history, The Audacity of Hoop shows how the game became a touchstone in Obama’s exercise of the power of the presidency.

Table of Contents

1 Basketball Jones

2 Hoop Dreams from His Father
Gaming the President Out
The First Brother-in-Law

3 Running Game
“The Little Brother I Never Had”
Obama, One-on-One
Players’ Choice

4 Power, Forward
Hardwood Cabinet
The Secretary of Schoolin’ People
Center Circles
Lip Service
Ding-Dong Diplomacy
The World’s Most Elegant Locker Room
The Loyal Opposition
The Inevitability of Golf

5 The Game in the Age of Obama
Shooting the First Shooter


Selected Bibliography

About the Author(s)

New York Times best-selling author Alexander Wolff is a senior writer at Sports Illustrated, co-author (with Armen Keteyian) of Raw Recruits, and the author of Big Game, Small World: A Basketball Adventure. Visit him online at