President Franklin Duncan Roosevelt? President John Quincy Anthony? Why They Aren’t Too Far Off

Posted on February 18, 2011

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So here we are, just strolling through another week of this new year and it finds us hitting smack dab into Presidents Day.  After the previous months of shamelessly taking it easy, liberally using leave, vacationing and celebrating holidays, we have found ourselves at the last government sponsored break for some time.  Being an avid student of politics, as well as a closet history geek, I not only love the free day to drink in the morning, but also thoroughly enjoy the abundance of programming devoted to the men who’ve helped shape our great nation.  Plus it gives me ample opportunity to brandish my trivial knowledge about these individuals.  It allows me to learn more about lesser known ones, say for example the forgotten presidents during Antebellum.  It even gives me a chance to mention my favorite person in all of history, the second President of these United States, Mr. John Adams.  A man whom I’ve probably spent as much time researching as playing Madden.

This is a weekend for reflection of great leaders and charismatic politicians.  To recall watershed moments of their’s: JFK’s Inaugural Address, George Washington’s evoking the idea of Cincinnatus and stepping down after two terms, Reagan’s “tear down this wall,” the Monroe Doctrine and of course the Emancipation Proclamation.  What better way to celebrate these remarkable accomplishments then by sitting on our asses and watching NBA all-star weekend in Los Angeles.  I’m sure POTUS’ everywhere had it in their intent to be remembered in such a manner befitting.

With celebrities and athletes galore embarking to witness the festivities, I find myself Cised for a dunk contest for the first time in a while.  Blake has me legitimately jacked up for the event.  I cannot wait to see what he has up his sleeve.  I mean, he has already shown incredible feats in the flow of his game.  In the first half of the season he has amassed a dizzying array of sportscenter top ten highlights.  His natural ability should land him a victory (sorry Javele).

Peirce looks to hop up on the championship podium in back to back years

The three-point shootout will be entertaining too.  Provided you have ties to New England.  Returning champion Paul Pierce is primed for a chance to best his good buddy Ray Ray, a.k.a. Jesus Shuttlesworth.  They absolutely have to  have some kind of action on it, don’t you think?  One of my favorite three-point moments is the story about when Larry Bird walked into the locker room before the shootout and told everybody that they would be playing for second.  Then went out and destroyed the competition.  I am also partial to watching Tim Leggler rep the Bullets for the ’96 crown.

Anyway, I was dicking around and decided to see if I could match up an all-star to a coinciding president.  I looked at their career statistics, accolades and achievements.  Then measured them accordingly to their paired person.  After a couple of far off stretches and ill-fated, half-hearted attempts, I believe that I have indeed found some stunning comparisons.  So here it goes.

-Tim Duncan/FDR (32nd): Both of these elder statesmen have produced tremendous hall of fame bodies of work over extended periods of time.  FDR started strong in his honeymoon period and his “first hundred days” saw the implementation of the New Deal.  Timmy’s honeymoon, or adjustment period, was just as swift.  In only his second full year in the league he won his first NBA championship and took home Finals MVP.  He won as many titles as Roosevelt did Presidential elections (4).  One could argue that they are the best power forward and president of all-time.  FDR’s appointment of 8 Supreme Court Justices, Works Progress Act (WPA) and Social Security Act are equivalent to Duncan’s 3 Finals MVP’s.  That is big time.  Now Timmy is considered to be a quiet guy, but when he speaks his teammates listen as intently as the American people did during the fireside chats.  His career stat line coming into this year is staggering and the Spurs are the best team in the west right now.  21-11-3-2 and over 50% from the field and his career numbers go up in the playoffs.  That is on par with the tremendous work FDR compiled in bringing our nation out of the depression and through the war.

-Kevin Garnett/Andrew Jackson (7th): These men may be the two most, what’s the word I’m looking for, “passionate” people in their profession.  They are notorious for spewing fire at their opponents.  KG has easily surpassed the “mother f***ers”quota for all man kind.  By himself.  Watch any one of his games, past or present, and I guarantee that you will see him running down the court muttering that phrase.  It’s a mortal lock.  And don’t get me started on Andrew Jackson’s feistyness, let alone temper.  His epic, lets call them “disagreements,” with his V-P John C. Calhoun and Speaker of the House Henry Clay are legend to this day.  Do not bring up a National Bank conversation with this man.   This is the same guy who, after two guns were pulled and misfired at him, he lifted up his cane and charged the shooter in the Capitol Rotunda when he was leader of the free world.  Both are considered to be men of the people, born of the common folk.  KG is fiercely loyal to his boys in his inner circle.  He routinely is reminding that around them he is simply “Kevin” and not “the Big Ticket.”  Jackson brought in the “Era of the Common Man” to the country.  He was the first to stack the cabinet with all of “his” people, and it was widely refered to as the “Kitchen Cabinet.”  During his Inauguration party he let in any and all to the White House.  It got so rowdy that once things began to break, the servants took all of the booze outside in order to lure people out. Even former White House CoS Leo McGarry’s favorite story was about how Jackson had a big block of cheese in the White House and invited anyone to stop by and have some.  And sadly, both of these men could claim to be robbed out of more victories.  The “Corrupt Bargain” cost Jackson the election in 1824, while Garnett was surrounded by marginal talent in Minnesota, a knee injury in ’09 and of course Perkins’ freak ACL tear that cost the Celtics dearly in last year’s game 7.

-Lebron James/George W. Bush (43rd): They are similar in their rocky starts to the time on top.  Obviously there was a touch of controversy in the 2000 election, but even Lebron didn’t blow everyone away in his rookie year.  He wasn’t an all-star and the Cavaliers didn’t make the playoffs in the east.  Soon after their bumpy beginnings, they catapulted to superficially high popularity, only to be jettisoned back down to the role of villain.  They had tactical errors and multiple lapses of judgment.  The “Mission Accomplished” sign was Bush’s “the Decision.”  Idiotic ideas by their aides that needed to be shot down.  On the other side, they’re good-natured characters that are considered to be tireless jokesters.  I would have no quarrel just bullshitting with these guys. They are fun to be around.  All it takes is one google search to find countless anecdotes on them.  W’s No Child Left Behind Act, 2 substantial tax cuts and Medicare drug benefit program were his two MVP seasons.  The endless criticism and a failure to get his second term off the ground, headlined by Social Security reform, are like him never winning a title.  Just as James hasn’t.  Final judgement will come in the form of future media and scholars, as it is still way to early to know their historical worth.

On a side note, every time someone says LBJ, is it weird that I immediately only think of Lyndon Baines Johnson?

-Kobe Bryant/Grover Cleveland (22nd and 24th): We can start off with the two non-sequential or consecutive terms that Cleveland held.  The 1884 election was marred by bitter attacks.  It was the dawn of political cartoons and they were ugly.  It got personal and even called into question whether Grover had fathered an illegitimate child.  Opponents shouted, ” Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa?”  He eventually won, but it was only a single term as he was ousted in his re-election campaign.  Now having to wait four years until he regained the presidency.  The testiness is easily transferable to the Shaq/Kobe public feud.  They were at each others throats in the press and behind closed doors.  It even did get wicked personal with wives and such.  Eventually Kobe won out and Shaq was dealt, but the big man went on to win a title and the Lakers kept falling short in their repeat attempts.  Finally, after a hiatus, Kobe was able to get the past two championships and is presently looking for a third straight.  Oh and when Cleveland took office following the electoral victory, the “Ma, Ma …” attack phrase gained a classic rejoinder: “Gone to the White House. Ha! Ha! Ha!”  During his tenure in Washington, he also became veto happy and is second all time with 414.  You can’t tell me that Bryant hasn’t surpassed that number and vetoed passing to his teammates and at player personnel decisions.  Popular quotes from Cleveland were, “What is the use of being elected or reelected, unless you stand for something?” I would argue that Bryant would agree and since he stands for winning, it is no wonder that he is the hardest working player in the league.  Another was “Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote.”  Which could also add, or have rights in Eagle, Co.

Fun fact: In his first term in office, Cleveland sought a summer-house to escape the heat and smells of Washington, D.C., but needed to remain near the capital. Acting in secret, he located a house, Oak View (or Oak Hill), in a rural upland part of the District of Columbia, and bought it in 1886. Although he sold Oak View upon leaving the White House (the first time), the area became known as Cleveland Park which name it still bears. The Cleveland’s are depicted in local murals.

-Carmelo Anthony/John Quincy Adams (6th): Impressive pedigrees is what I noticed right off the bat.  They come from rich traditions.  Quincy was Massachusetts royalty.  His family held a dynasty over a political power hotbed.  Hell, his father was president and is one of the country’s founding fathers.  Before he was ever elected to the presidency, he held multiple distinguished positions.  He was a graduate of Harvard Law, Foreign Minister and Ambassador to several countries, Senator, Secretary of State and chief negotiator in the Treaty of Ghent.  Anthony, similarly, had an equally respectable upbringing.  From age eight the playgrounds of Baltimore were his home.  He attended powerhouse Oak Hill Academy where his team finished ranked number 1 in the USA Today, NCAA National Champion at basketball factory Syracuse, Final Four M.O.P., a top 5 pick and the second youngest to ever score 40 points in an NBA game.  Adam’s single term is widely considered to be under-achieving.  It recorded no major victorious legislative, diplomatic, military or administrative achievements.  Congress did, in his last year in office, pass the tariff of 1828, which later became known as the “Tariff of Abominations” and spurred a violent outcry. After leaving office Q became his most successful as a member of the House of Representatives.  Anthony’s lingering  trade request/contract extension dispute could wind up being his tariff.  Melo has yet to distinguish himself from the rest of the pact.  Yes he is a solid player and can lead he team to the playoffs, but he has been dispatched every time.  He, like Adams, hasn’t had an “it” moment.  He is though, still young enough to rectify and  match the latter part of the careers.  Maybe a uniform switch is what he needs to take it to the next level.  It worked for Q when he swapped branches of government.

-Ray Allen/Josiah “Jed” Bartlett: Two extremely classy, very well-respected individuals.  Neither were to flashy, more of the get the job done right types.  Bartlett was surrounded by a high quality staff that were big game players.  He was able to broker a mid-east peace accord between Palestine and Israel and had three Supreme Court appointments.  He also somehow managed to wade through the emotion when his youngest daughter was kidnapped, all the while invoking the 25th Amendment to relinquish the Office.  So to could you say that Ray’s teammates and coaching staff were top-notch, all-stars with all-NBA honors.  He recently is the proud owner of the career three-point made fg’s record.  The guy he passed is retired and third place is over 800 away.  That record is seemingly impassable and will not be touched anytime soon.  That is his big time mid east deal and Chief Justice appointments.  They go nicely with his NBA championship and with any luck another this year.  Allen also does have some sympathy for going through an ordeal with children, as his child has a disease.  His acceptance to be part of the “Big 3” in Boston and sacrifice offensive production for the good of the whole was his invoking 25.  While his OCD isn’t on Jed’s MS level, they still share dealing with daily reminders of imperfection.  Not to mention being from New Hampshire, Bartlett’s favorite team is the Celtics.

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