In an attempt to gin up support in basketball-mad Indiana on Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz tried to compare his candidacy to the underdogs in the movie “Hoosiers.” It was a strained comparison. But by somehow referring to the hoop as a “basketball ring,” Cruz instead showed that he perhaps has never actually seen “Hoosiers,” or a basketball game or maybe even a basketball.
Cruz has actually joined some elite company here: Politicians who throw up all over themselves while making sports references.
Cruz actually has nothing on Trump during the current campaign. Like the time he said Buffalo Bills Coach Rex Ryan “won championships in New York. The AFC, I think, twice.” Nope. Or the time he tried to rally a crowd in Pittsburgh with “How’s Joe Paterno?” Or the time he tried to rally a crowd in Maryland by talking about Tom Brady’s greatness. Frankly, “basketball ring” seems mild in comparison.
Boston’s longest-serving mayor had plenty of opportunities to talk sports, given the success of the Hub’s teams over his tenure (1993-2014). And so “Varitek” split the uprights, not Vinatieri. Rob “Grabowski” and Wes “Weckler” caught passes from Tom Brady (Gronk also was known as “Gonk” in Menino’s mind). “KJ” and “Hondo” almost led the Celtics to the 2012 NBA Finals, not KG and Rondo. A year later, Menino expressed hope that the Red Sox would win the “World Series Cup.” He was the king of this, really.
There’s something about those New England pols, eh? While campaigning in Wisconsin for president in 2004, Kerry talked about “Lambert Field” instead of Lambeau (he somehow still won Wisconsin). He also referred to Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez as “Manny Ortiz.” The George W. Bush campaign actually compiled a list of Kerry’s bloopers and sent them to reporters.
Massachusetts! During the 2012 campaign, Romney expressed wonder at a 7-foot-tall man who didn’t play basketball, which is fine. But he kept referring to “sports” as “sport,” which made him sound like a BBC commentator.
George H.W. Bush
Our 41st president once did this:
There also was that time in 1991 when he welcomed the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins to the White House, as recounted by The Post’s Lloyd Grove at the time:
More recently, on June 24, Bush welcomed the world-champion Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team to the Rose Garden. In an astounding, and quite convincing, display of hockey expertise, he spoke knowledgeably about the Penguins’ defensive strategy and mid-season trades, and descanted lovingly on top-scoring center Mario Lemieux, who for much of the season was “out, as we all know who follow the sport,” Bush noted, “with a serious back injury.”
Unluckily, one of the players then stepped forward to present him with a Stanley Cup sweater.
“And you are?” Bush asked.
“Mario, I was talking about you,” Bush giggled, and then began to babble uncontrollably, “I had that feeling . . . I had that feeling . . . talking about you . . . “