Barack Obama to Attend Carrier Classic Basketball Game on USS Carl Vinson at North Island Naval Air Station on 11/11/11

AP Photo

SAN DIEGO (AP) — President Barack Obama will attend the Carrier Classic basketball game on Veterans Day on the USS Carl Vinson, the aircraft carrier that buried Osama bin Laden at sea.

The White House confirmed Thursday that the nation's basketball-player-in-chief has accepted an invitation to attend the Nov. 11 matchup between North Carolina and Michigan State, the first college hoops game on an active flat top.

The Carl Vinson and its sailors have attracted considerable attention since early May, when the carrier conducted bin Laden's burial at sea after he was killed by Navy SEALs in a raid ordered by Obama.

"This Veterans Day, President Obama will honor our nation's veterans by laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery and then by traveling to San Diego, California, to attend the Carrier Classic on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson," the White House said in a statement. "He looks forward to a great game between Michigan State and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill."

Obama is a huge hoops fan. Last November, he needed 12 stitches in his lip after he was inadvertently elbowed during a game of pickup basketball. His brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, is the coach at Oregon State. Obama has filled out an NCAA tournament bracket the last three years for ESPN, which will televise the Carrier Classic.

Mike Whalen, the director of Morale Entertainment Foundation, which is organizing the game, said there will be appropriate security considering the dignitaries who are expected to attend. Besides Obama, top Navy officials and congressional delegations from North Carolina and Michigan have been invited. A postgame concert is scheduled, but organizers haven't announced the acts.

James Worthy and Magic Johnson will serve as honorary captains for their alma maters.

The game will be played on the flight deck of the carrier, which is surrounded by military bases. The Carl Vinson, which has been in San Francisco for Fleet Week, will be berthed at North Island Naval Air Station. To the south is Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, where SEALs train. Across San Diego Bay is Naval Base San Diego. In case of rain, the game will be moved below to the hangar deck.

Navy officials got the news on the sea service's 236th birthday.

"We're honored that President Obama plans to attend the game on the Carl Vinson," said Rear Admiral Dennis Moynihan, the Navy's chief spokesman. "The ship is a representative of more than 100 Navy ships that are deployed right now. We see this as a celebration of service for all veterans, and we also see this as a great opportunity to showcase what our Navy does on a daily basis."

Said Whalen: "We're excited that President Obama would even consider showing up. We feel like we won the lottery."

The court will be surrounded by stadium-style seating for about 7,000 fans, with most of the tickets going to active military personnel. Tickets won't be sold to the public.

Whalen said Obama can sit "wherever he wants."

Morale Entertainment Foundation, which hopes to help raise the visibility of the Navy with the Carrier Classic, brings notable Americans, such as former astronauts Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan and Jim Lovell, as well as coaches and race car drivers to visit troops in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

The Carrier Classic is sponsored by Quicken Loans.

Views: 1758

Tags: base, events, nasni, north island, sports

Comment by Ken Pecus on October 13, 2011 at 3:59pm
Pleeeeeeeeassssseeeee can I get a ticket :-). (Knew I should have enlisted way back then)
Comment by Kelley Kraft Casey on October 13, 2011 at 9:18pm
Comment by Ann on October 17, 2011 at 8:51am
Not much else happening in the world and the country and he does love his basketball....
Comment by Heinz Steiner on October 17, 2011 at 12:08pm
Glad that he will not create any (additional) traffic problems in Coronado by attending this event.
Comment by jef on October 17, 2011 at 8:05pm
Yeah.  Let's spend MORE of the taxpayer's money by flying Washington politicians to the west coast for a GAME.  Don't they get it?  We're BROKE!!
Comment by Brian on November 10, 2011 at 10:34pm

As a military spouse I would like to thank all our men and women who have worn and currently wear the uniform of our military.  To the negative comments above I have to say that if the President was a conservative politician, people would be saying what a great show of support he is doing by watching the game alongside our servicemen and servicewomen.  So much divisiveness and vitriol these days.  It really is sad.  Hopefully he is flying directly into NASNI so the traffic would be lessened but even if he isn't, with it being Veteran's Day the usual base traffic should be next to nothing.

Comment by Angie on November 11, 2011 at 1:07pm

I agree that it does cost the taxpayers a lot of money to fly him around everywhere, but in this circumstance, he's not simply flying his wife and himself to Chicago for dinner.  He's taking time to show his face, shake some hands, and maybe share a personal "thank you" with some soldiers who have never met him, but yet are willing to lay down their lives if he says go.  In my opinion, that's the least those soldiers deserve from him.

Comment by Brian on November 11, 2011 at 4:37pm

So is it that he is wasting money by coming to the game tonight or he is not spending enough money by not going all the way to Afghanistan?  Or it is that you don't like him so you will find fault in anything he does?  He is heading out to attend two Asia-Pacific economic summits in Hawaii and Indonesia so the stop in San Diego was on his way.

Comment by Ken Pecus on November 11, 2011 at 5:21pm

Reality Check:  I'm all for open Polito discourse, generally it's healthy.  But lets refocus here. This is a Historic Athletic Event that has been 10 years in the making (through multiple administrations). It is taking place on an Active Duty Military installation in front of Thousands of Active Duty Military and their dependents, located in the highest density of Navy/Marine concentration in the USA, on a day that we Nationally honor THE NATION's armed forces.  The fact that THE Commander-In-Chief of the Military is attending this event, should be of secondary discussion...

Comment by aaw on November 11, 2011 at 7:57pm

"Show me a young Conservative and I'll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I'll show you someone with no brains.”
Winston S. Churchill

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