The madness known as NBA All-Star Weekend has descended upon New Orleans, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is there to experience it first-hand.
Duncan laced up the old basketball shoes to participate in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game for the fourth straight year on Friday, putting on a show for all in attendance.
After actor/comedian Kevin Hart robbed him of being named the Most Valuable Player in each of the past two years, Duncan came into this contest with an all-business frame of mind.
-- Arne Duncan (@arneduncan) February 14, 2014
The secretary, who played four years at Harvard and four years in the Australian Basketball League (from 1987-91), didn’t waste any time displaying his prodigious basketball talents during the Celebrity Game.
He finished the first half with 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting, five rebounds, and four assists, leading all scorers.
-- NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 15, 2014
Duncan kept his foot on the gas in the second half, getting his fifth assist less than a minute after halftime. He drilled a huge jumper at the top of the key with three minutes remaining in the third quarter, helping key a game-swinging rally.
At the end of the third quarter, Duncan had 20 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. The 20 points were an all-time record for the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, according to ESPN, which includes the former NBA players and WNBA players who participate.
The secretary wasn’t done just yet, though. After grabbing his 10th rebound with 4:30 left in the game, he threw a nasty no-look pass to WNBA player Skylar Diggins for his sixth assist.
He finished the game with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists, helping the West rally over the East, 60-56. The MVP award seemed all but a formality.
Hart’s 9.9 million Twitter followers had something to say about that. Despite a miserable seven points on 2-of-11 shooting, Hart was voted the MVP for the third straight year.
The actor/comedian quickly deferred the award to Duncan for his record-setting performance, however.
-- Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) February 15, 2014
In a post on the Dept. of Ed.'s official blog, Duncan explained his odd choice for a jersey number (80), writing, “That number—80 percent—is the newly announced high school graduation rate, the highest in American history.”
-- Arne Duncan (@arneduncan) February 15, 2014
Here’s hoping President Obama is so jealous of Duncan’s MVP trophy, he decides to participate in next year’s All-Star Celebrity Game.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.