NBA Honors the Passing of President George H.W. Bush

Former President George H.W. Bush passed away at the age of 94 this past Friday. Though the 41st president had a strong connection to baseball—he played first base at Yale University and his son, President George W. Bush, was once co-owner of Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers—his death at his home in Houston brought out remembrances from around the NBA.

Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta shared a personal note on the passing of the former president, who supported the team during its latest playoff run amid his own battle with sepsis.

“The Bush family is the most prominent and extraordinary political family in the history of our country,” Tilman wrote in a statement on Instagram. “On a personal level, my family and I enjoyed his friendship for several decades and admired him as a great servant leader who truly loved this country. An avid sports fan, President Bush was a fixture at all Houston’s sports venues. He will be missed.”

Houston held a moment of silence in the late president’s honor prior to Saturday’s 121-105 win over the Chicago Bulls at the Toyota Center.

The Rockets weren’t the only Texas team touched by the Bush family. In 1992, the former president and first lady Barbara Bush made a trip to San Antonio for the inception of the Spurs’ youth basketball leagues. Head coach Gregg Popovich, who was an assistant with San Antonio at the time, cited Bush’s “thousand points of light” as an inspiration for the program and fondly recalled the way the president interacted with kids and players alike, including David Robinson, Rod Strickland and Terry Cummings.

"He was one of our really classy presidents who did things for other people," Pop said, per KSAT’s David Sears. "He really cared about other people more than anything else. Just a good-hearted guy."

The Bushes were also personal friends of the Benson family, who owns the New Orleans Pelicans. Gayle Benson, the team’s current owner and wife of the late Tom Benson, shared her sentiments in a statement issued by the team.

“We valued our strong friendship with George and Barbara,” Gayle wrote. “From serving his country in World War II, to a long, highly successful and admirable career as a public servant culminating with serving as our 41st president, backed by a desire to give back to his nation and to those less fortunate through philanthropy, President Bush lived an extraordinary life. May he rest in peace as he rejoins his beloved Barbara in Heaven.”

 

Olivier Auguste is an NBA lifestyle writer based in New York City. Follow him on Twitter.