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The Wizards Fan Who Talked Trash to Obama


Miles Rawls and Obama. (By Preston Keres - TWP)


When I saw all the photos of Obama at the Verizon Center getting into it with a fan wearing an Obama t-shirt, and then read the caption identifying the guy as "Washington Wizards fan Miles Rawls," I smiled. Then I thought, "Wait a second....Miles Rawls?"

That would be Miles Rawls, the commissioner of the Goodman League down in Barry Farms. The same guy who rocks the mic throughout those classic summer league games, saying, for example, "Man, they bumping like a [bad word]" when players make contact. The same guy who once pointed in the general direction of me, a Slate editor and a Comcast SportsNet employee and saying 'Man, we got white folks in the house. When you've got white folks in the house, you know you're special."

That must have made for some interesting Presidential banter, I figured.

"We were up by 15," Rawls remembered in a phone conversation this afternoon. "I told [Obama], 'You can tell them to warm up the limo, Sir, because this is a wrap here.' "

And really, not too many people can claim to have taunted a sitting President with the old "Warm up the limo" chant.

So anyhow, the back story. Rawls has season tickets facing the Wiz bench, at the bottom of Section 110. Like everyone else, he heard the rumors about how Obama would be there last Friday night. In anticipation, he went to a sportswear place on Pennsylvania Avenue called Shooters to pick up a $15 Obama t-shirt. He showed up at the Verizon Center around 6:25, and was greeted by his usual usher.

"The usher told me I had to be on my best behavior," Rawls recalled. "I said 'For what?' She said, 'The President's sitting right in front to you.' I said, 'Well, he best enjoy the show, because y'all know I don't pull no punches. For $285, y'all know what I do. I have me a good time.' "

Wonder if anyone warned the White House. Indeed, Obama had been placed in those courtside seats in front of 110, some of which are held back for last-minute VIP requests. A few of the regular ushers thought Rawls might give up his "carrying on" for the occasion; those ushers, the 46-year old said, "must don't know me."

Indeed, the man who has hosted dozens of NBA stars in Barry Farms over the summer has gone after Kobe and Dwyane Wade. He's gone after LeBron--"He listens, he gives you a little, smile but he stays focused," Rawls said. And he's gone after Shaq--"exchanging pleasantries," as he calls it.

"I told Diesel he was going down," Rawls said. "He showed me his four fingers, [like] that's how many rings he's got."

Obama got a somewhat warmer greeting. Rawls shook his hand. He asked "How do you like my shirt, Mr. President?" Obama said it was beautiful. Rawls told the President he would treasure this moment, and that he was proud of him. Obama said he appreciated it.

That was "right at the beginning," Rawls said. "Before it got heated."


Miles Rawls and Obama. (By Preston Keres - TWP)

He said his chatter, like always, was unscripted, "right off the top of my head. I just had to see how he was gonna take it," Rawls said. "Once I knew he was a big trash talker, too, about them Bulls, that means the gloves came off."

And Rawls has been doing this a while. He's put in 13 years as commissioner of the Goodman League, and about 30 years doing play-by-play of that Southeast circuit, starting when he was a 15-year old kid with a single, hand-held microphone. He will give the summer players all sorts of grief, playing to the crowd, but when I asked about his chatter at NBA games, he insisted that "heckling" isn't the right word.

"Heckling and having a good time are two different animals," he explained. "I wasn't heckling the President and I don't heckle the players. I talk about their weaknesses. We was having a good time. He was talking trash and I was talking trash. I couldn't believe he was that laidback and real. I loved it."

And while they talked through much of the game, Rawls--who had never met a President--said no lines were crossed. "I wasn't disrespectful," he said. "I know my limits."

So, for example, he told the President that if he was rooting for the visitors, he was "gonna have to keep it to a low roar, because we're cheering for the Wizards over here." Obama, in turn, repeatedly needled Rawls about the Wizards' habit of letting leads evaporate, especially when the Bulls made a run.

"We was just going back and forth," Rawls said. "Once Chicago started coming back, he told me, 'Now I think you need to sit down.' When Tyrus Thomas dunked on somebody, he turned around, was talking smack. Then JaVale McGee had that alley-oop, and he gave me the high five. We was just supporting each others' team, having a good time."

Rawls's phone, of course, started blowing up before the game was over, and has continued to ring as the photos and videos of their exchanges went all over the world. He said he made at least one member of the President's Secret Service detail laugh. He will, of course, keep the t-shirt, and wants to get the photo autographed; he also hopes to invite Obama to Barry Farms. He said he had an adrenaline rush throughout the entire game, and that it was a "once in a lifetime experience" he won't ever forget.

"Where can you do that, sit there and talk smack with the President of the United States face to face?" he asked me. "He's the President, but he's subject to my fun too. I have a no-holds-barred rule."

"But he enjoyed it," Rawls added. "Trust me."

(The best account of Obama's trip, of course, was provided by Wizznutzz Hoops Addict also has a fine retelling.)


Miles Rawls and Obama. (By Evan Vucci - AP)

By Dan Steinberg  |  March 3, 2009; 3:22 PM ET
Categories:  NBA , Wizards  
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Comments

great story buddy.

Posted by: littles_ | March 3, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Obama attending a Wizards case while the stock market continues to go into the tank seems to be a classic case of fiddling while Rome is burning.

Posted by: poguesmahone | March 3, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

@poguesmahone

last i checked, the stock market is closed on Friday nights. also:

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/mason/5042364.html

and:

http://thinkprogress.org/2008/12/29/bush-vaca-middle-east/

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | March 3, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Obama at Berry Farms?!?! C'mon.

Great post though.

Posted by: fushezzi | March 3, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

President Obama should absolutely, positively go to Berry Farms this summer!

Posted by: Kev29 | March 3, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Robin Ficker sure has changed in his old age.

Posted by: inchesfromyourface | March 3, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

File this story (plus Pelosi and Rice at Hoyas games, off the top of my head) away for when people accuse DC of being a terrible sports town.

Posted by: distriteno | March 3, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

George Bush spent 487 days at Camp David, and 490 days in Crawford during his presidency, according to CBS News. 977 vacation days in 8 years, just at those two places. Talk about fiddling while the world burns. And much of that was when the Wizards were good!

Posted by: KidTJ | March 3, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Great, great story. Man, what a change...like a breath of fresh air. You go Obama!!!

Posted by: gringoinmiami | March 3, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm guessing he asks for Abe's box next time...


Nah, he's too much a man of da people...

Posted by: jhorstma | March 3, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Everyone knows that Bush was a Jagr fan and spent his time in Verizon accordingly. Not so ironically, he didn't really care about Donald Brashear, though.

Posted by: Buffalo66 | March 3, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm a conservative Republican, and I see nothing wrong with President Obama going to an NBA game, and having a brew. If he was talking trash with the Wizards fans, it somewhat refutes the idea that he can't speak well without a TelePrompter.

But, $285 to watch the Wizards play the bulls ???

Posted by: sampjack | March 3, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Obambi say da stock market is jus some trackin poll , it aint real impotent like hoops .

Posted by: borntoraisehogs | March 3, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Everytime I read this post, I'm disappointed it's not in the dead tree version. Of course I don't get the dead tree Post anymore so I really wouldn't know.

Posted by: sitruc | March 3, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

He ain't no Ficker.

Posted by: Barno1 | March 4, 2009 7:33 AM | Report abuse

People may as well get used to it. The Obamas are not over 60. They are in their mid 40's and like myself are still in the land of the living. Remember 40 is the new 30 and there is nothing wrong with him going to games and enjoying himself after work. I look forward to seeing him and his family take in some of the area culture. No one works 24 hours a day. These nit pickers kill me. Where were they when Bush was on vacation 8 months a year??? You go Obama! Nice to know that for once we have someone in the White House who is not an elitist. The only thing I am upset about is that I turned down tickets and was not there to see him in person. Oh well... maybe next time!

By the Dan, great post! Keep em coming!

Posted by: ivyleague | March 4, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Come'on....Bush played GOLF, and Obama can't enjoy a game of hoops.....

FIRST and foremost, don't you get off the clock at a certain time to relax and unwind, and OBAMA has a bigger responsibility than you, he has the WHOLE USA and more to worry about...so shut up with your comments they make no sense.

The man loves B-BALL!!! He is human just like us, not no dam robot. LMAO!

Obama, showing us he is laid back just like the rest of us, chilling at B-Ball game! Coolest President EVER!!!

Posted by: desiremydream | March 4, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Great story and great fans in the DC area! I am a former Illinois resident and don't have the ability to talk smack... never had it. I think it's cool to hear people having fun at a ball game and I love seeing the President being a "real" person! He and Rawls sound like they would be fun to watch! Great comments from the fans too! I am kind of getting tired of hearing all the "Yahoo" readers bash the President. Let the guy work... it's nice having someone at least TRY and it's fun to watch him "talk smack"!

Posted by: rdcawley | March 4, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

@ poguesmahone: You're really out of touch with reality. I wonder how many soldiers died while Bush was at Camp David. A war he has a hard time trying to make us understand. You seem bitter.

@borntoraisehogs: That comment you made was very hard to read, yet I see where you were going. It is definitely obvious that your surrounding definitely depict who you are. Stereotypical big time. I'd like to say more, but this is the Washington Post not the New York Post. You also seem bitter.

@jhorstma: That comment you made was very hard to read, yet I see where you were going. You also seem bitter.

The story depicted above was very refreshing. It made me smile. It bothers me to see so many people angry at the fact that Obama won. Some of the comments above are from readers that are angry that we have a black President. Get over it. It's reality.

Posted by: DeirdreBPride | March 4, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

It is nice to see that we have a President that is not afraid to enjoy himself by going to a games. Being seem out side the White Hosue, and beign able to enjoy a little trash talking from time to time. I really love the President that we have now.
Go Mr. Presidernt Obama
I have faith in your Plan it will work out for the best.

Posted by: eh770452002 | March 4, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Okay, enough is enough! You would figure that people would have better things to do then harass President Obama. So get a serious life! Let the man take a time out every now and then. So SHUT UP PLEASE! He's our President deal with it. I wasn't to crazy about President Bush but I respected the man.

Posted by: jorrell1 | March 4, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Awesome story. I agree with what most of you have said, he should be able to go out and enjoy a basketball game, and I think it's awesome that this guy has the nads to talk trash with the president. I feel that if your gonna post a comment criticizing the president of our country you should probably know how to spell and speak! I don't remember Pres. Obama ever saying da stock market isn't impotent.

Posted by: cas722 | March 4, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

to Poguesmahone and whomever thinks like him or her! What the heck are you talking about? He has only been president for 2.2 seconds and you and people like you want him to perform miracles overnight. Remember Bush is who messed things up; what did he do he has been on vacation for eight years!!!!! Obana has a right to live his life as normal as possible. Everyone need a stress outlet or you will go nuts!!

Posted by: cat6 | March 4, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse

I think Obama is a breath of fresh air! Finally we get someone who is intouch with reality and who do not think he is too good to chum with the American people. Being President is a job! You get paid, you get time off, you are allowed to live! You just don't stay in the Oval office and not have a life. You go Mr President enjoy your life while you help fix America! God will do the rest. Enjoy your family too!

Posted by: cat6 | March 4, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

This was a great article. My family members thoroughly enjoyed it when I read it to them. I hope Mr. Obama enjoyed the exchange as much as I did your story.

Posted by: Budge | March 4, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

I have turned off the tv, because it is people like some on here I just can't put my head around. The republicans can not stand it, they are not in power, and will do anything to hurt this guy. Just keep it up and in 2010 more seats will be lost, and we won't need their bull. At least our president now works and cares. I used to be independant and republican but they disgust me. A basketball being complained about unreal.

Posted by: countrydawn5 | March 4, 2009 11:09 PM | Report abuse

a basketball game that is......

Posted by: countrydawn5 | March 4, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

DeirdreBPride - I did not notice one comment about race until you brought it up...get over it yourself.

Posted by: MJCASEY1 | March 4, 2009 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Hey dierdrebpride.
@ poguesmahone: You're really out of touch with reality. I wonder how many soldiers died while Bush was at Camp David. A war he has a hard time trying to make us understand. You seem bitter.

Incomplete sentence. Nice use of the word "bitter" though.

@borntoraisehogs: That comment you made was very hard to read, yet I see where you were going. It is definitely obvious that your surrounding definitely depict who you are. Stereotypical big time. I'd like to say more, but this is the Washington Post not the New York Post. You also seem bitter.

It is difficult to read when, well, you have a hard time with it. Again, though, wonderful use of the word "bitter". Also, two incomplete sentences and an adverb lacking in the proper usage, as in "surroundings". However, it is impressive that you used the same word twice in one sentence.

@jhorstma: That comment you made was very hard to read, yet I see where you were going. You also seem bitter.

Hmmm, two posts that are difficult for you to read, and yet again "bitter" was referenced in relation to your percieved view of the authors' frame of mind. I have a bit of advice. Use a thesarous.

The story depicted above was very refreshing. It made me smile. It bothers me to see so many people angry at the fact that Obama won. Some of the comments above are from readers that are angry that we have a black President. Get over it. It's reality.

What did Obama win? The ball game? I dont think you win the presidency. I believe you are voted into office. But, like, whatever.

Posted by: dougtek99 | March 4, 2009 11:27 PM | Report abuse

I don't expect the republican party to respect our democractic views, but please republican party stop the madness about riding my president about the hell that was handed over to him by you backstabbing undercover bigots

Posted by: lbbtoo | March 5, 2009 12:12 AM | Report abuse

dougtek99:

The word is spelled "thesaurus." Perhaps you should try a dictionary.

And yes, elections are WON. Obama WON the election.

"Won what? The ball game?"

The above phrases are sentence fragments, not complete sentences.

Kudos on your valiant efforts to appear condescending. Unfortunately, you failed miserably. Have a better day.

Posted by: ebrandst | March 5, 2009 12:41 AM | Report abuse

Obama attending a Wizards case while the stock market continues to go into the tank seems to be a classic case of fiddling while Rome is burning.

Posted by: poguesmahone | March 3, 2009 3:57 PM ===========================================
PLEASE! Go write some obscure blog somewhere about how Obama is wasting his heard earned pay on something pleasureable. Oh! Isn't that just like what we would do with our money?

Posted by: wolfman2200 | March 5, 2009 1:59 AM | Report abuse

People complain too much. He's human and determines a break. He's the hardest working man in America! And FYI the president does not control the stock market... it's this thing called capitalism it's a free market where they hire or appoint people to take care of those things. It is his job to enforce and govern our country, which is doing a great job by being honest and letting us know how our country is being effected economically, environmentally, and our social welfare....

Posted by: deandraw14 | March 5, 2009 3:00 AM | Report abuse

It was all staged. Would Secret Service allow some drunk to get that close to the President? It is just more propaganda from this administration to make you think he is an average joe schmoe and not a flaming elitist socialist. He knows his job is secure, until the truth of his citizenship is discovered.

Posted by: mail_cobra | March 5, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure glad that we have a President that does know whats its like to be a regular guy. Unlike that fake from Crawford, TX, sorry Dallas TX. Also, if a real black person had get that close to Bush, he would have had an heart attack.

Posted by: navydvldoc | March 5, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure glad that we have a President that does know whats its like to be a regular guy. Unlike that fake from Crawford, TX, sorry Dallas TX. Also, if a real black person had got that close to Bush, he would have had an heart attack.

Posted by: navydvldoc | March 5, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I loved this, sounds like they all had a lot of fun and indeed President Obama should enjoy a basketball game whenever he can go. I don't know what they mean by trash talk when you have fun commenting about a game you are watching, we all do that. Once I watched President Bush at a ball game eating popcorn and the only one he had to talk to was his parents, I guess there was no 'trash talk' there.

Posted by: Joyce1 | March 5, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I agree, the man should be able to enjoy a b-ball game. Dont care what he does after hours. Its what hes doing on the job that concerns me. But it will only last 4 years then he'll be gone and we'll have to clean up the mess. to ibbtoo, on your comment about the repubs being backstabbing biggots--- YOU don't know jack about history do you? It was the Republican party that fought to end slavery, the President was Republican Abraham Lincoln. So if any political party should be associated with backstabbing biggotry that would be the democrats. They USED a black man to win the oval office. If Obama doesnt do as they wish they will turnon him in a heartbeat!!!!

Posted by: RUSH | March 5, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

President Obama----> HATED ON BY FEW, SUPPORTED BY MANY!!!


Posted by: you-dont | March 5, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I dont hate the man.... I dont know him. I do not however agree w/ his policies. Enjoy the game Mr. President. And when you have time ,go watch some basketball.

Posted by: RUSH | March 5, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I love all of the Obamaphile comments on this "story." We love him no matter what, even if the country is going to hell in a hand-basket as a result of his Hugo Chavez-like policy proposals.

It really will be interesting to see how much longer all of you continue to slobber over the man when things keep going down. Pretty soon, you will need to find someone other than Bush to blame. But given that the Democrat party has control over every branch of government now, it really is comical how things are still Bush's fault.

You elected a juvenile, corrupt Chicago politician and empty suit solely because of the color of his skin. You are shallow and racist and now we will all pay the price. Well done.

Posted by: aaronburr94 | March 5, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Is anyone a little bit concerned about Obama and Rawls “Talking Trash” while a little kid sits right next to Obama? What kind of Example is that?

Posted by: alleyghoar | March 5, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

That's one of the reasons why I voted for him. He's laid back like Obama, not O'Malley, the alley cat. He has style in his walk and class in his talk.

My grandchildren think he's the best in the West,A-N-D the East. As the M & S Airport tenant workers say, "He's Oba'ma', Which means: "I will be with you always".

I am so very please to see him having fun especially in the presence of doubters and haters on the left, especially the Rx druggies and the S&G lovers.

Posted by: DoctorMaia | March 5, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I consider Miles a friend so to see him getting this much attention is great for him.
Funny I don't remember Miles seat being right there. Miles, Is DC basketball to me and President Obama going to a game in Baryy Farms would show the world that the President is Southeast DC is not a bad place. I'm trying to think though where would all those people fit on that court?

Posted by: ENJOYA | March 5, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I am pleasantly shocked that you would include the small detail about the retail store Miles purchased his Obama shirt. Anyway good looking out for Shooters Sports. It is a fanastic clothing store with quality merchandise. Go check it out some day - ask for Jack, Zack or Chris.

Posted by: 98Integra | March 5, 2009 11:57 PM | Report abuse

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