Pave the South Lawn

Jodi Kantor's story on the cover of The New York Times describes Barack Obama's love of basketball.

Read the whole article. It's fun.

My favorite part: the idea of basketball functioning like golf -- as the medium for powerbrokers to network. That would be something.

At country clubs across the land, politicians network and raise money over rounds of golf, a sport Mr. Obama also plays. But Chicago is a basketball town, and over the years, Mr. Obama's gymmates have become loyal allies and generous backers.

Mr. Nesbitt, an owner and executive at an airport parking company and chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority's board of commissioners, helped Mr. Obama get to know Penny Pritzker, who is now his national finance chairwoman.

Arne Duncan, a top Chicago public school official, is helping with Mr. Obama's education platform.

Mr. Giannoulias met Mr. Obama on the court, and thanks in part to his backing, is now the Illinois state treasurer. Other regular gymmates include the president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health and several investment bankers who were early and energetic fund-raisers.

Though some of these men could afford to build courts at their own homes, they pride themselves on the democratic nature of basketball, on showing up at South Side parks and playing with whoever is around. At the University of Chicago court where he and Mr. Obama used to play, "You might have someone from the street and a potential Nobel Prize winner on the same team," Mr. Duncan said. "It's a great equalizer."