Pope Francis, this blog’s 2013 Being of the Year and my good friend, called The House on the Hill today to brag that he had beaten the President at a game of HORSE.
The prize? The Washington Monument!
The Holy Father gushed as he told his story. “We were just shooting around on the court in the Vatican, trading jumpers, and just being a couple of guys, when Barack says, ‘Care to make this interesting?’ How could I not jump at the chance to go one on one against the leader of the free world on my home court?”
The Secret Service Agents and Swiss Guards assigned to protect the two world leaders weren’t too keen on the men playing a half court game. “Too much chance of injury. How would we explain the bloody nose the President received from a wayward Papal elbow?” a source in the Secret Service explained.
So the guys decided to play HORSE.
“We had to settle on what we were playing for first,” the Partying Pontiff told me with glee in his voice. “Your President was so cocky, he was willing to bet the moon. Literally. We decided that the United States doesn’t actually own the moon, though, just because it landed there first.”
President Obama then admitted to being a huge fan of The Da Vinci Code and started jokingly naming various landmarks from the book that he wished he could own.
“I told him that he could pick any one and it would be his if he won our game. He asked me if I was telling the truth, and I reminded him that I was the Pope. I don’t lie. Then I told him he’d have to put up something of equal value, and he told me to name it. I’ve always thought that the Washington Monument would be a nice addition to Vatican City.”
Once the stakes were set, the men prepared to shoot it out on the Holiest Basketball Court On Earth!
“We pulled out the stops, ” Pope Francis told me so excitedly that I could almost see him reenacting the shots on his end of the phone. “It took a half hour before one of us earned our first letter.”
Were there heavenly forces at work? Or were the Pope and the Prez just that good?
“No Angels were helping the balls through the hoop, my friend,” he answered with a chuckle. “We’re just a couple guys who could’ve gone pro if we hadn’t answered a higher calling. Simple as that.”
At one point, President Obama was up HORS to HO, but then the King of the Vatican Court took over. “I didn’t miss another shot, and it was like I could feel a the Holy Spirit and Michael Jordan flowing through me. I got a little creative, B cooled off just a touch, and next thing you know, we’re down to the last shot.”
Pope Francis refused to tell me what President Obama would have won had the letters and the shots fallen in his favor. “Why tease the people of America? It wouldn’t be right…”
“Three-quarters court, back to the basket, over my head with both hands…”
Nothing but net!