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ICYMI – Cleveland.com’s Piece on Rich Cordray’s Unlikely Career on the Hardwood

September 10, 2018

Here are 8 quick things you might have missed from Cleveland.com’s piece on Rich Cordray’s unlikely career on the hardwood:

1. Brains + a baller? Rich is the total package.

The Democrat, who is running for governor, is known for his run as a five-time champion on the quiz show Jeopardy!, his esoteric Twitter account where he muses on an eclectic array of topics like the most popular watersheds and his uncanny resemblance to Kenneth Parcell – the overly anxious NBC page from the hit show 30 Rock. But unbeknownst to most, the normally placid politician has an alter ego that emerges in an unlikely setting: the basketball court.

2. Rich Cordray played semi-professional basketball. Yes, that Rich Cordray. You read that right.

Cordray’s played pickup basketball since he can remember. He wasn’t competitive enough to play in high school – mostly because of his five-foot, six-inch frame, he said – though while he was studying at Oxford University – and after he’d grown into his current six-foot, two-inch body – he joined a semi-professional team that traveled around Europe and North Africa for games.

“We weren’t very good,” he conceded.

3. The Rich Cordray-Elena Kagan pick and roll game was unstoppable.

He continued playing after he went to clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron White, including games at the basketball court on the top floor of the Supreme Court building that is sometimes humorously referred to as “the highest court in the land.” There he played against the likes of White and future Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, who he would set up for scoring opportunities.

“I would follow Rich around, and he would set a pick,” Kagan told Sports Illustrated. “And I would think, ‘O.K., Rich has now set a pick for me. I will try to hit a jump shot.’ And very occasionally, I would do that.”

4. Look good, feel good, play good.

He still dresses like a nerd while on the hardwood, with white tube socks up to his calves and an old T-shirt tucked into his shorts, a far cry from the athletic apparel the younger players sported. He wears a pair of Allen Iverson sneakers, which Reebok hasn’t made since 2014 (and Cordray’s are clearly older).

5. If the Cavs need a new power forward…

But his personality while playing is as much Alex Trebek as it is Kevin Love.

“I do not have a first step any more. Neither does Kevin,” Cordray said, echoing an answer he gave on an episode of the Ohio Matters podcast. “For me it’s post-up moves, one step, step back and shooting the three. Although I have an off-the-dribble three, which he doesn’t have.”

6. “I’m gonna take my talents to the Governor’s office” — Rich Cordray.

However, after that miss, Cordray found his rhythm and started sinking buckets. He shot from the same place he missed and drained it. Then he hit another. He kept making his outside shots, including nailing a three-pointer to seal the game.

7. Rich stays on message even when he’s trash talking on the court.

Once he found his groove, the notably soft-spoken candidate even shouted out what amounted to trash talk at this reporter after draining a pass from [Lorain Mayor] Ritenauer.

“You see this cooperation between state and local government?” he yelled louder than any speech he’s given on the campaign, playing off one of his campaign themes.

8. Ball is life.

By the time everyone walked out of the door, it was almost 11:30 p.m. Cordray had to be up in the morning for U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge’s Labor Day Parade in Cleveland before a full day of meeting voters at the Canfield Fair.

Why, then, stay up so late just for a basketball game?

“It’s just fun. …” he said. “Everyone has goodwill out here. That’s different from politics.”