Jeremy Lin may be the Harvard grad recently setting the basketball world on fire, but on Friday night, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan took center stage at the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game.
Duncan was named the game’s honorary co-MVP after putting together a LeBron James-esque stat line of 17 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and five steals (by this writer’s unofficial count). Comedian Kevin Hart was named MVP with eight points and six assists on 4-10 shooting; he was also ejected with a minute left in the game.
Duncan, wearing the number 26 in honor of the “26 Seconds” campaign (every 26 seconds, a U.S. student drops out of high school), managed to take NBA legends Penny Hardaway and Chris Mullen to school all night. At the bottom of the post, you’ll find a video of Duncan dishing a beautiful no-look pass to a teammate for a would-be assist, had the teammate not blown the easy bucket.
If you remember last year’s All-Star Celebrity Game, Duncan ended up being overshadowed by a teen pop megastar by the name of Justin Bieber.
With Bieber nowhere to be found this year, Duncan deftly grabbed the spotlight with his well-rounded performance. (At least, until Hart’s ejection and subsequent stripping of his jersey and sneakers.)
Duncan’s performance had viewers on Twitter going wild, as the Huffington Post chronicled on Friday night. Jeff Green, a former Georgetown Hoya and current Boston Celtic, tweeted, “I bet @BarackObama is proud of ArneDuncan right now he’s balling.” One of Duncan’s teammates for the night, WNBA star Tamika Catchings, also tweeted her support: “Awesome playing with you again tonight!! Killn [sic] em ;).
Before the game on Friday, Duncan took to Twitter for some pre-game trash talk. “Last year I went up against @justinbieber. Didn’t know whether to guard him or chaperone him,” Duncan tweeted.
He adopted a much more humble approach after Hart awarded him the honorary co-MVP.
“Very generous of @KevinHart4real to share #sprintceleb MVP w/me. It was fun to play with him and #TeamEast. Let’s do it again in DC!,” he tweeted. He followed that with, “Thanks for watching #sprintceleb game. I’m blown away by all your tweets and support. Like basketball, education is a team effort.”
If Duncan can lead the effort of improving U.S. education like he led his team at the All-Star Celebrity game on Friday night, we’ll be back to the top-performing system in the world in no time.
Here’s a video of Duncan’s sweet no-look pass, courtesy of NBA.com:
Photo: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (26) dribbles the ball downcourt past musician Ne-Yo (24) during the NBA All-Star celebrity basketball game on Feb. 24 in Orlando, Fla.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.