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In hoops matchup, team Obama trounces congressmen

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy put one over on President Obama Thursday night.

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy put one over on President Obama Thursday night.

It was a nice, if short-lived, burst of offense for Murphy during a basketball game on the White House court featuring Obama and several Cabinet secretaries against 11 members of Congress.

"I popped a 3-pointer when the president was guarding me, and I talked a little smack," Murphy, a Bucks County Democrat, said. "I told him I was going to take it easy on him."

That move may have brought a run of bad luck. "I didn't have a single shot drop," Murphy said. "I shouldn't have said anything."

The congressmen took the first game but dropped the next three as they played for about 90 minutes.

On Obama's team: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner; Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who was captain of the Harvard basketball team and played professionally overseas; Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. And the president also had a potent weapon in personal assistant Reggie Love, a former forward for perennial hoops power Duke University.

The members of Congress, who play regular pickup games in the House gym was also stocked with athletes. Rep. Heath Shuler (D.,N.C.) starred at quarterback for the University of Tennessee in the early 1990s, though he was a disappointment as the Washington Redskins' signal caller. Rep. Baron Hill, an Indiana Democrat, won the state's coveted "Mr. Basketball" award as its best high-school player and went on to play at Furman University in the mid-1970s.

Rep. Mike Arcuri (D.,N.Y.) played college football, and Murphy was an all-star defenseman on the hockey team at Kings College in Wilkes-Barre. Also on the House team were Democrats John Boccieri of Ohio, Brad Ellsworth of Indiana, Jay Inslee and Rick Larsen of Washington state; and Frank Katovil of Maryland. Republicans Jeff Flake of Arizona and John Shimkus of Illinois also played.

"The president's a hell of a player - he's definitely got game," Murphy said. "In the last game, he dove after a loose ball, kind of reminds me of Thaddeus Young of the Sixers."

Obama's greatest skill as a baller, Murphy said, is a "great little crossover dribble."