Arne Duncan, who announced on Friday he was stepping down as education secretary, has been one of the leading voices on higher-education policy for nearly a decade. But much of America most likely knows him not for his views on student-loan servicing but for being the biggest basketball devotee in the U.S. cabinet.
Well, maybe the second-biggest.
Mr. Duncan and President Obama have played pickup basketball together since the 1990s, keeping up the habit throughout Mr. Obama’s presidency. And while Mr. Duncan can be overshadowed by the many superstars and celebrities who have rotated in and out of Mr. Obama’s pickup games, and by the reportedly ultracompetitive president himself, the education secretary is skilled in his own right.
And he’s shown it.
Mr. Duncan, who was co-captain of Harvard University’s basketball team and played professionally in Australia, has played in four NBA All-Star Celebrity Games. He racked up 20 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists in 2014, a performance that earned him the game’s MVP honor (the comedian Kevin Hart was the fan favorite, but he gave the honor to Mr. Duncan).
Statistics can say only so much. Here’s the secretary dealing a slick no-look assist to the WNBA player Skylar Diggins in last year’s game:
Here’s a similarly nasty pass to the rapper J. Cole, who blows the play by missing the layup:
The NBA was so jazzed by Mr. Duncan’s 2014 performance that it put together a personalized highlight reel:
For more on Mr. Duncan’s history with the game, here’s an interview with the sportswriter Bill Simmons: