Big news! Obama shoots some hoops

The New York Times inexplicably devotes considerable space today to a breathless report by Jodi Kantor on Barack Obama playing basketball with friends.

Barack Obama is a wily player of pickup basketball, the version of the game with unspoken rules, no referee and lots of elbows. He has been playing since adolescence, on cracked-asphalt playgrounds and at exclusive health clubs, developing a quick offensive style, a left-handed jump shot and relationships that have extended into the political arena.

If one were somehow to play a highlight reel of Mr. Obama's on-court exploits, it would start in Hawaii, with a pudgy junior high school student in short shorts and high socks who had a Julius Erving poster plastered on his bedroom wall.

It might include the time he and several Harvard Law School classmates played inmates at a Massachusetts prison; the students were terrified to win or lose, because the convicts lining the court had bet on both outcomes. ("I got two packs on you!" they called out.)

Isn't all this gushing also pandering to a stereotype? A reaction to the "not black enough" critique seen prominently in the Los Angeles Times?

Did the New York Times have an article extolling Kerry's windsurfing talents, or Bush's jogging or bike-riding?