The NBA champion and reigning MVP sounds off on first-tee nerves with the President and how shooting hoops assists in putting.
You recently played with President Obama. Where does golf with the Commander in Chief rank among your accomplishments of the past year?
That’s up there, for sure. Never in a million years did I think I’d join the President on his vacation in Martha’s Vineyard and spend five hours with him playing golf. It was a pretty amazing experience and one I’ll never forget. I got to take my dad with me; my whole family got to come at the end of the round and meet him. It was pretty special. I played pretty well too, so I’ll remember that for a long time.
What did you shoot?
I shot 76. I was told not to tell what the President shot even though he definitely played well. He can hold his own on the golf course.
Where did you feel more nerves: on the first tee with Obama or Game 1 of the NBA finals against LeBron?
Oh, the first tee for sure. I wasn’t prepared for that situation. Your hands start shaking, the fairway seems like it’s two feet wide. It was a big moment, and I was nervous to meet the President to begin with. Now I’ve got to hit a little white ball in front of everyone. Once I got off the first tee it began to feel a little comfortable.
You should definitely get a mulligan if the President is watching.
He gave me a breakfast mulligan. We did the two-off-the-first-tee rule.
We have a hard time picking out weaknesses in your basketball game these days. What would you say is the biggest hole in your golf game?
I struggle off the tee. If I can hit my driver straight then I’m usually playing well. There’s something about the touch in shooting helping you with your putting, because that’s the strong suit of my game.
I saw you striping it on the range. If this basketball thing ever gets boring, would you consider trying professional golf?
No way. That’s insulting to the PGA [Tour] guys out there who have spent their lives trying to perfect their craft. I’m pretty good and I know I could probably get a little better with practice, but the difference between where I’m at and where they are is night and day. A lot goes in to being a PGA professional and playing at the level they do week after week. I’ll leave it to them.