Obama and his crew skipped the election day games in New Hampshire and Nevada -- and lost the balloting in both states. Was there a connection?
"He was trying to figure out what we did differently in Iowa," said Eric Whitaker, a friend since graduate school at Harvard. "He said, 'We played basketball in Iowa, and we didn't play in New Hampshire and Nevada. We have to start playing again.'
"We've played every primary day ever since."
Old friends from Chicago have flown in just to play. To round out the teams, Obama plucks a few athletically inclined aides and any stray players who happen to be in the gym that day. Games might last an hour or two, with two teams of five squaring off as Secret Service agents stand guard. The public and the press are usually barred.
Here's Obama playing basketball with ESPN's Stuart Scott. By the end of the interview, Scott was out of breathe.