Obama not the only prez with basketball jones

VIDEO: F. King Alexander playing in a pick-up game at the Walter Pyramid

It’s just before tip-off and the Monson Maniacs, along with the rest of the crowd, have all filed in as AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” is playing over the loud speakers of the Walter Pyramid.

After applauding during player introductions, Cal State Long Beach President F. King Alexander takes his usual seat directly across from the Long Beach State men’s basketball team’s bench. With daughter Madison in tow, Alexander removes his black and gold Beach-embroidered jacket and gets ready to take in yet another 49ers game.

Even before the game starts, looking concerned, he asks in a southern drawl, “Is Donovan [Morris] not starting tonight?”

That is the moment when you realize, that while Alexander may be one of the most powerful men on the LBSU campus, he is still just a normal fan.

As the game begins so too does Alexander’s analysis, nearly self-commentating the action on the floor. At one point he mutters, “They need to pull them out of this zone.” Like most fans he can also pin-point mismatches during a game.

“There’s no way he can cover Casper [Ware],” Alexander said about the UC Davis defense.

Where Alexander does differ is in his noticeable knowledge of the game that goes beyond what a normal fan might know. As a one-time point guard at St. Lawrence University, Alexander takes in the action as both a fan and former player.

The basketball-playing president’s fascination with the sport developed while growing up in Florida. He was forced to decide between his two loves as a sophomore in high school: football or basketball. Alexander chose the latter because his brothers had been football players, and he wanted to try something different.

Alexander knows the life of a student-athlete, and remembers the dedication he needed during his time at SLU.

“It’s [playing collegiate sports] a big commitment, you have to sacrifice a social life,” Alexander said.

Alexander also admits that there was a time in his life that he wanted to become a basketball coach. But, he says that talking about basketball all the time and going over game plans with other coaches everyday was something he couldn’t find himself enjoying after a prolonged period.

As a fan, Alexander says he watches the entire team as a whole, but as a former point guard he pays special attention to guard play. He is especially fond of the freshman class that has emerged this season for LBSU highlighted by point guard Ware, T.J. Robinson and Larry Anderson.

Although he has a background in the game, Alexander won’t be giving pointers to the 49ers any time soon.

“They don’t need to hear from me … they know what they’re doing,” Alexander said.

One of the reasons that Alexander decided on basketball his sophomore year was that he didn’t need a team to play. He also knew it was a sport he could play well past his prime.

Alexander still consistently plays pick-up games at the Walter Pyramid early in the morning during the week. With the teams made up of mostly faculty, Alexander gets a chance to showcase his talent.

While on the court, it is apparent that Alexander still gets energized and has intensity while playing. His fellow teammates in the pick-up games notice it, too.

“He is very competitive,” said Vic Cegles, LBSU’s athletic director.

Alexander doesn’t think his opponents hold back when playing against him because of his presidential status, but that’s the way he likes it.


  1. Avatar
    disabled student

    If Pres. Alexander is a “regular joe” he should stick up for minority students, like my roommate and me. We are disabled CSULB students and live on fixed incomes, but he has no problem promoting the Beach Legacy Referendum, even though it will mean we will probably have to drop out with any more new fees. We like watching sports too, but we can’t afford to pay anymore money for our education. It would be “Nice to see” him stand up for OUR rights recommend against this new fee.

  2. Avatar

    Nice to see the prez as a regular joe like the rest of us and not just some authority figure who stays up in his office all day without interacting with school personnel. Good story.

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