Obama talks race, Michael Sam in NBA All-Star Game interview

President Obama addressed topics ranging from race to ObamaCare in an interview broadcast late Sunday ahead of the NBA All-Star Game.

“Think about basketball. You think about what the NBA was before African Americans were allowed to play on an equal footing,” Obama told former NBA great Charles Barkley.

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“You think about some the stories that even folks like Oscar Robertson tell of what they went through. You think about what Jackie Robinson ended up meaning, not just to baseball, but to the entire society. I wouldn’t be sitting here if it weren’t for him. I think American is stronger where everybody is being treated with respect and dignity,” he said.

Obama briefly touched on Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam, who last week announced he was gay.

“I really like the fact that Michael did it before the draft,” Obama said. “Because his attitude was, ‘You know what? I know who I am. I know I can play great football and judge me on the merits.’ ”

First lady Michelle Obama last Monday said Sam was “an inspiration to all of us” for coming out as gay.

Obama also said he doesn’t mind when people call his signature healthcare reform legislation “ObamaCare.”

“I like it. … I’ll tell you, five years from now, when everyone is saying ‘man I’m sure glad we got healthcare,’ there are going to be a whole bunch of people who don’t call it ObamaCare anymore because they don’t want me to get the credit.”

The president encouraged Americans, especially young people, to sign up before the March 31 deadline.

“You don’t know what life will throw at you,” he said. “And sometimes people don’t recognize, particularly young people, how important it is to have coverage until you get sick and you realize you may lose everything you have or your parents may lose everything they have trying to make you well.”

In a clip from the interview released last week, Obama said former NBA star Michael Jordan will always be “the guy,” but added LeBron James has a chance to be as good as anyone.