Etan Thomas Attends White House Correspondents’ Dinner
Etan Thomas' resume is unmatched when it comes to any player in the NBA. The laundry list of activities and organizations the 6'10" center is involved with extends across multiple fields, but each has an overlying focus on giving back to the community as well as a great appreciation and interest in politics. Thomas’ passion led him to work on the Obama campaign in 08', the "Respect My Vote" program in the summer of 2008, and play an active role on the Democratic National Committee. It came as no surprise that on May 9th of this year, Thomas was at one of the biggest political events of the year when he attended the 2009 White House Correspondents' Dinner.
"All the political people were there, so it was a time when President Obama talks to all the people who cover him. He encourages them and thanks them. It was a great evening. President Obama was funny. I didn’t really know what to expect, but he was funny and was really on a role. Michelle Obama presented scholarship awards and it was really just a great evening.”
The night had a jovial feeling throughout as Wanda Sykes had the crowd laughing with constant political humor. However, after a night that was mostly laughs, President Obama quickly turned to a more serious note that grabbed the attention of everyone in the crowd including Thomas.
"Everyone toasted the President, but after all the jokes he got serious and he talked about how we have a lot of work ahead of us. He said there’s going to be ups and downs and we have a lot to fix. He thanked all the people who were covering him. It was amazing because he had everyone’s attention. When he was telling jokes everyone was oohing and ahhing and when he got serious everyone was quiet. It was just amazing how he could change so quickly.”
The annual dinner, which was hosted by the White House Correspondents' Association, was an extremely star-studded affair that brought out some of the biggest stars in the political world, as well as the entertainment industry.
“It was really amazing. I didn’t know how big it was," said Thomas. "I followed it before, and talking to other people they said it wasn’t like this before. Everything now is just magnified. I was sitting at a table next to Ludacris, I walked in and there was Tyra Banks and Dwayne Johnson (“The Rock”). Colin Powell, Al Sharpton, Louis Gossett, Jr. -- you just saw everybody."
While walking around the event, Thomas ran into a local celebrity; Mayor Adrian Fenty. As someone who is extremely active in politics, it has always been a dream of Thomas' to get to see the life of a politician, and after meeting with Fenty, the two made plans for Thomas to shadow the D.C. Mayor at some point this summer.
“I talked to Mayor Fenty and I’m actually going to get to shadow him for a few days and soak up everything. I’ve always been interested in politics and he said “you really want to do that” and I said yes, I really want to follow you. Whatever you are doing I just want to watch and I’ll be in the background.”
Although Thomas will have the opportunity to get to live out a lifelong dream of shadowing a major political figure, he does not believe that the situation should necessarily go both ways. When asked whether he would play in a pickup game with President Obama, a well known basketball enthusiast, Thomas was quick to turn down the offer.
“No (I will not play against the President). Everybody always asks me that. It’s the President, so you can’t really play against him. I will shoot around with him, but I won’t play against him."