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S3: Hi, I’m Josh Levine, Slate’s national editor, and this is Hang Up and listen for the week of February 22nd, two thousand and twenty one on this week’s show, The New Yorker’s Louisa Thomas will join us to discuss tennis’s Australian Open with its quarantine’s and the fans and then the new fans and then the fans again. And big wins for NameA Sakia and Novak Djokovic will also discuss how the NBA’s G league is changing the pro and college basketball development model and will scrutinize Timberwolves rookie Anthony Edwards, his huge dunk and name our favorite dunks of all time.
S4: I’m in Washington, D.C. I’m the author of The Queen, the host of Slow Burn Season four on David Duke. Also in D.C., Stefan Fatsis, author of the book Word Freak and A Few Seconds of Panic. Hello, Stefan. Hello, Josh. And with us from Palo Alto, Slate staff writer, host of Slow Burn Season three and six. Joel. Hello, Joel. Good morning, Joe. Joel, I wanted to ask you, you wrote a piece over the weekend about some of the volunteer work you were doing in Texas where you’re from and just well, a, people should read the piece, which was great. But, B, if you had any thoughts on what’s been going on down there or any, like, advice for people who are interested in helping out.
S5: Well, yeah, thanks. Yeah. I mean, obviously what happened in Texas is terrible. I go into that a little bit in the piece. You know, it’s really discouraging to see people be let down by their government in this way. You know, it’s really distressing to talk to people and including people you love and know that they’re suffering and that there are ways to prevent it and that the state simply has neglected to do that year after year after year. And, you know, yeah, I mean, it just kind of feels like it’s a collision of crises, you know, every every few years or something going on down there. But beyond that, yeah. So me and my wife volunteered. Beto O’Rourke, the twenty eighteen Democratic Senate candidate in Texas, is doing phone banking.
S6: Anybody from out of state anywhere can call in. And all it takes is a couple hours and a good Wi-Fi line. And you can call and check on people, you know, seniors or other vulnerable Texans who need help right now and, you know, try to get them water them to warming shelters or whatever. So that’s one thing. And you can also follow the old work on Twitter. He’s still doing these initiatives throughout the week. And I’d also like to recommend you folks go on the Texas Tribune, which has been doing great coverage this past week, but also has a post which, you know, shows all the many different, you know, volunteer efforts going on around the state are ways you can, you know, send money to people down there that are really in need, because even though the weather has turned, people are going back outside. There’s still a lot of need down there.
S7: OK, thanks, Joel. And we’ll put links to that stuff on our show page so folks can find it.
S8: For me, the Australian Open is always felt like a universe, much like our own, but a little off match is happening in the middle of the night, Eastern Time in broiling heat while I’m bundled under blankets. This year, there is even more cognitive dissonance fans in the stands over there. Well, I guess there are sometimes fans in the stands here, but over there they’re actually being responsible about it. In the middle of the tournament, Melbourne went into lockdown because of just a handful of covid cases in the tournament, sent crowds home. And as we talked about a couple of weeks ago, all the players had to quarantine before they started to play. Some of them, including women’s finalist Jennifer Brady, were actually placed into hard quarantine for two weeks, meaning they couldn’t go outside or even crack open a window for any reason. After all of that, with fans back in the stands for the end of the tournament came to a close with a pair of unsurprising champions, 23 year old Naomi Hosaka, when her fourth grand slam and her second in a row, beating Brady in the final and dominating Serena Williams in the semis. Thirty three year old Novak Djokovic won his 18th slam that’s now two behind both Federer and Nadal for the all time record. He beat Daniel Medvedev in the final and he overcame somehow a torn oblique suffered during his third round match against American Taylor Freda’s. Joining us now is The New Yorker’s Louisa Thomas. Hey, Louisa. Hey, let’s start with Naomi Asaka. You wrote that her win over Serena last week felt like a passing of the torch. What did you see in that match and in that moment?
S9: I saw a player who was the best player in the world playing someone who is still one of the best players in the world, but no longer has quite the hold on the tennis tour that she once did. Naomi Asaka was fantastic. And one of the things that made her so incredible was that she wasn’t playing her best. She wasn’t serving while she was hitting a lot of errors. She was at times very visually vividly nervous. And yet she still managed to control that match. Basically, once she broke Serena back and took command, she she just didn’t really look back. Serena is famous for playing her best on big points. That’s what Osaka is doing now. You know, Serena Williams beat. I would say that players who had been playing the second and third best tennis on tour, Simona Halep and R.A.F. Blanka, coming into the tournament. So this is not a story about how Serena just doesn’t belong in the game anymore by any means. It’s a story about how Naomi Issaka is really kind of separating herself as as a very real force to be reckoned with and the kind of mold of Serena, who is her idol.
S2: And I think more than one person said that what Osaka did to Serena looked like what Serena used to do to her sister and everybody else. It was just that force of will and not yielding. Somebody on Twitter posted for screenshots of from Osaka’s four grand slam championships where she either was facing match point or was down a set and trailing by one or two games with the threat of going down even further. So it’s this this growth that I think that we’ve seen in Osaka mentally, certainly in addition to the physical and tennis prowess, right?
S9: Absolutely. I mean, I actually think that’s one of the things that’s so appealing about Osaka, is that when she first became U.S. Open champion, I mean, obviously that was match was in twenty eighteen at the U.S. Open, was very much overshadowed by the confrontation between Serena Williams and the umpire. And but, you know, at that point, she was she was in tears. I mean, she was not you know, by her own admission, she was not really sure how to handle not only the moment, but the the big stage. I mean, she was you know, she she described herself as shy and she described herself as not quite ready for what was coming later on. Looking back, you know, and now we’ve seen someone who has really embraced her role not only in tennis, but in a more kind of globally vivid way. And, yeah, she has an incredible confidence, incredible and self-assurance. And that’s both true off the court. And it’s true very much in those big moments when she has her back against the wall, she really produces her best tennis.
S5: You said and it’s just mentioned in the intro that, you know, this felt like a passing of the torch. So for somebody who is very much a novice to the game. Right. And still trying to learn what’s under what circumstances would it take for Serena to beat Naomi now? Because, you know, I did watch a little bit of that match. And, you know, Serena just doesn’t move very well anymore. But it’s not like Naomi is some unassailable, unbeatable. No one in the mold of Serena, you know, a decade ago or whatever. So, like, do you what would it take for Serena to beat Naomi at this point in her career?
S9: Well, Serena was actually doing quite well coming into that match. Asaka did a lot of things to kind of stop her movement. Asaka has disguises her shots, really, while she was hitting the ball behind Serena. I mean, she was doing a lot of things to kind of unsettle Serena. Yeah. Osako nearly went out of the tournament. She faced two match points against Garbin him. Agree with that. There’s no question that she is not unbeatable. But, you know, coming out of those two match points, she won the next twenty two points, I mean, against Serena when she double faulted and basically threw away game in the second set, she won the next eight points to win the championship. She just has that kind of mettle within her. And it’s you know, we can get carried away talking about intangibles. But, you know, it really does the numbers sort of back her up in that she has a really big serve. Serena would have to wish that she had a bad serving day, as Asaka actually did against her. Serena would have to have a great serving day, which she’s certainly capable of. And, you know, she would sort of. I think that Serena, if she had played the way she had shown even in this tournament can play, you know, it really would have been a match. But I think that one of the cards that Serena always held is that she comes into all these matches, you know, with the kind of aura and palapa referred to as a legend. She actually cut off the question to sort of correct. Not correct, but, you know, kind of amend the transcript to you know, in that interview I referred to her, she said, you know, legend, you know, and there is that that sense when it comes in, even though Halp is capable of playing her best tennis against Serena, that she knows that she’s looking at an icon.
S10: And that’s true of Osaka, too. And you saw it in the beginning of the match. But there’s something that’s Osaka was able to sort of draw. And she has those weapons. You know, she has the big serve. She has the big, you know, first strike forehand. She has a great backhand. You know, she’s developing an all core game and she’s able to play a little bit more defensively minded than maybe Serena’s used to when she’s facing people are trying to hit her off the court or capable of hitting her off the court. So it would take a big match from Serena to beat Osaka. It doesn’t mean it can’t happen, doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. It just means that. Yeah, that the expectations in those matches have certainly shifted.
S4: Yeah. I mean, I think there are two ways for Serena to win a slam at this point. I think she just has to, as Louisa said, serve really well. I mean, you’ve seen that with like Federer in his late career when he’s been able to win. I mean, Djokovic in this tournament just like adding more to the serve. And if Serena serving really well, she will win those service games like nobody, even the best returners in the world are not capable of of beating her when she’s, like, totally on on her serve. And and that’s something that she’s done in the past but just wasn’t able to do in this match. But also, it’s like tennis is not Serena Williams versus Naomi Asaka. There’s a bunch of other players and a bunch of them could beat Naomi if Serena’s not capable of doing it at this point in her career, for whatever reason, like Naomi Asaka has won, I think, four of her last eight grand slams. So even if she maintains that pace and like half of these slams, somebody else is has beaten her. So it’s not impossible. I mean, the thing, Louisa, that I was hoping to see in this tournament was like, what’s Coco Goff up to? And she, like, lost in the second round to the fifth seed svitlana, which is like absolutely not, you know, a disappointing result for her at this point in her career. But she’s still just 16 years old. And that, to me, is going to be the next big rivalry in the sport is going to be Coco versus Osaka.
S9: I think it’s I think Cookoff didn’t get a lot of attention maybe for the first time in her career, but she was gone before I even had the chance to watch her at all in this tournament.
S10: But at the same time, she actually had a good tournament. You know, she won two rounds. She lost to a player who should have beaten her, both in terms of seeding and in terms of where their games are right now. I think she can leave this tournament thinking like she made progress. You know, you win the matches, you’re supposed to win and you make progress in the matches. You’re not supposed to win. And sometimes you come out on top of those matches. But I think nobody was expecting her to to be fiddlin.
S4: I would have been a big upset had and she turned 17 this year, which means that she can actually play a full a full schedule as opposed to the the limited one she was on before.
S10: I mean, she really has to improve her second serve. She has some she has some kind of glaring holes in her game. But obviously she’s so young and she’s so talented and she’s, by all accounts, a hard worker that, you know, we have no reason to think that she’s not going to. So, yeah, that’s that’s that’s a rivalry in the making. And, you know, the great thing about women’s tennis right now is its depth. It’s not just that. It’s it’s just not top heavy, but it’s very, very, very deep. So Osaka has a lot of potential young rivals. Salamanca, who’s Serena beat in this incredible shootout, is is in her early twenties and Osaka and of like a face each other in twenty eighteen in the fourth round in this really incredible match. That could be also a foreshadowing, a great rivalry. And women’s tennis, if suddenly get out of control her game a little bit. But the point is that there are a lot of potential great rivalries. And and so I think it’s a pretty exciting time for from inside.
S2: The finalist was Jan Brady, who’s in her twenties and an American who played another young American in the semifinals, Jesse Pegula. So, yeah, there does the depth is an issue here. The one thing that I wanted to before we move on to Djokovic in the men is that Serena was asked at the post finals news conference if she was done, basically, and she wound up sort of getting up from the table and in tears and. But it wasn’t in response to the question, which I think was sort of misreported, but why are we fixating so much on whether Serena is going to retire? I don’t see it in her character yet. She’s thirty nine, but she’s in that for the Post Match press conference. She didn’t mention Osaka’s name. She didn’t sort of credit her. She said that she lost the match. She played badly at Wimbledon and the French Open. Are the next two tournaments not in that order where Osaka has not won yet. So it doesn’t feel like Serena Williams is exiting.
S9: Absolutely. And we should be in no rush to push her off the stage. I do think that there is a preoccupation with, you know, once someone we see someone slip a little bit with age to sort of hurry them out the door.
S10: I’ve been reading stories about how Roger Federer should be retiring while he still has his, you know, while he still has has his legs under him since like 2012 maybe. I mean, I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve read that have been forecasting the assets of some of the great players in the game. But I think that one thing is that I think people really associate Serena Williams with winning and with dominance. And I think it took a lot of people to see how easily she was beaten in that match that everyone was watching. Serena gets beaten all the time. You know, she lost in four finals coming into this match. But either people weren’t maybe watching the matches in which she loses or people weren’t. You know, there’s a lot of reasons behind every match, as there always is when someone loses. And this, I think, was the first time that people sort of were like, wow, she’s she’s maybe not quite at the top of the game anymore. I think that the public has always had a complicated relationship with Serena Williams presence in the game. That’s kind of speaking euphemistically. I’m sure there are a lot of people who are, you know, kind of are in a hurry to push her out the door, which is totally unfair. She has every you know, she’s shown that she can stay at the top of the game for certainly the next year and, you know, probably as long as she wants to. So I don’t think she’s going anywhere.
S4: Novak Djokovic looks like the number one player in the world still and Daniel Medvedev. But I always like it feels strange to say this now. After we saw what happened, he was the favorite in that match, the betting favorite at least. He had won 20 matches in a row. He’d beaten Novak. He’s beaten them three times, I think. But we saw in this tournament, you know, like with said, past beating Nadal, but then, like, really crumbling against Medvedev and then saying afterwards, like, I’m not ready to win a grand slam. There’s still just something about these slams and slam finals where these younger guys who just look like they’re about ready to, like, storm the sport and take it over just cannot do it against the big three. But I guess especially against the big one at this point, which feels more appropriate when talking about Djokovic.
S10: Absolutely. I mean, Djokovic himself called Medvedev the player to be. But when it came to amping up the pressure of it, I mean, one thing that there is a difference that these grand slam tournaments, which is that for the men, they play best of five. So Medvedev can win, you know, Masters tournaments is at the level just below the slams, but those are best of three matches. Medvedev won his first five set match, I believe, at this tournament. I mean, so this is pretty new to him, even though he’s sort of at an age where, you know, someone like Nadal was already racking them up. So some of the some of these players are quite young and they’re and they’re going to sort of settle into it. But Djokovic is just the best. I mean, he’s just the best player in the world and probably ever. And he showed it again. He showed just how supremely well he does controlling a match. He’s actually improved his game. His serve was the best it’s ever been. He was winning points that were between zero and four shots, which is the bulk of points. But he was also winning the medium points and he was winning, you know, the points longer than nine shots. I mean, he just was winning all the points. And he has this kind of ability to make players not play their best tennis, which is kind of uninspiring sometimes. But he did against Medvedev and he does it against everyone else. And, yeah, I mean, I guess he’s going to keep doing it.
S4: So do you think he really tore an oblique it’s just so well, a the way that he looked in that match against Freda’s, like, clearly something was up. And I think he got lucky in the sense that, like, Fritz is a good player. But if he had done that against Medvedev, he would have lost like.
S10: Absolutely. Woke up to that match and I was like, I mean, I don’t think he was lying, that he was seriously injured and that was an acute injury. I mean, he was he looked scared, you know, like it’s not really kind of an emotion I’m seeing on his face. Annoyer. It is an emotion stressed, but like, he actually look like there’s something wrong and. Yeah, I don’t. Did he tear it? I’m I have no idea.
S1: I mean, I have to trust him because there’s apparently going to be a documentary you alluded to that like the person that it’s like the least surprising in sports. The documentary about this film crew is also the documentary, you know, going on.
S10: So that’s the thing to do these days. But yeah. So I guess we’ll find out, you know, don’t hold your breath. But yeah, I mean, I think that he was seriously injured. I think that he does have a. High pain threshold, and I also think he has, like, you know, stretching, he’s more flexible than everyone. So it sort of makes me believe that he can sort of learn how to he just has this kind of self-awareness about his body. And I think probably he has some special ability to learn how to train his body to compensate for an injury. But that said, I don’t know at all. I know is what I saw against Freda’s and what I saw again in the final. And I’m like, well, that man is a machine. So there you go.
S4: Last thing, this was the first definitely the first grand slam ever with no lines. People. All of the lines were called by hockey live the system where, you know, it’s a simulation, but it shows whether the ball was was in or out and it was done instantaneously. And all the players seemed like. I don’t know if they were confused or just like they had nobody to complain to.
S11: It’s like it’s weird to see in sports, like not have that relationship between player and ref. And it’s like discombobulating as a fan. But it seemed like for the players, some of them found it like actually reduced the stress of playing. And some of it, I think, found it actually disconcerting that there was no there’s no like appeals court. There’s nothing you can do. You just have to, like, take it and move on.
S5: Well, yeah. I mean, you can’t beat a ref anyway, right? Like, I mean, you know, I think that was always the thing that coaches always told us. I was like, you’re never going to argue or ref into changing the call. But I do think that it’s to your point that they are like a useful locus of energy for people that like they’re just sort of they’re like relief, you know, like I can I have somebody to unleash on and then I can just sort of move move off.
S1: You need somebody to, like, get mad at. And so it’s not your fault, right? In this universe. Like who who can you, like, blame for your for your failures other than yourself.
S2: And I have to believe it’s sort of like a psychological it’s got to have a psychological effect on the players because look, that is part of their energy distribution during a match that’s built in that at some point I’m going to be upset about something and I have to regroup and focus on the next point. And in the absence of that, it was weird, right? I mean, there were times when you saw players like looking up at the screen, you know, wanting to challenge or thinking, oh, I’ll just watch it again. And they have the option of requesting, I guess, a review where they would play it on the big screen. But it didn’t seem like players were availing of themselves of that very often. And maybe they settled into this. Is this going to continue? Louisa?
S10: Actually, I don’t know. I mean, I’m sure that tennis tournaments will be happy. Those that have the systems will be happy to reduce their costs, as they always are. But I’m sure that smaller tournaments are not going to be able to afford putting Harki systems on every court. So and it doesn’t work on clay anyway, right? Yeah. I mean, so I don’t I don’t know. I mean, I also think, you know, I think that taking people off the court, it does kind of impoverish the game, not just because you lose that sort of tension, but because you just lose people on the court. I mean, tennis is sort of lonely and solitary and enough as it is. And I think, you know, I think the more people we can bring into the game, the better. But, yeah, certainly Novak Djokovic is probably happy. I was going to say that you can hit with a ball.
S1: That’s a great point. No, no chance to to default. Joker Louisa Thomas writes about tennis for The New Yorker. Thank you, as always, for coming on the show with us. Louisa, thank you.
S5: The NBA tentatively plans to hold its annual player draft in November, and two of the prospects likely to be called early that evening are Jalen Green and Jalen Johnson. They’ll both get their having taken very different paths to that ceremonial handshake with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Call it a tale of two Jyllands. The more highly regarded. When is Jalen Green, who has spent the last few months going through the league’s experimental program for elite prospects in the league? Green skipped college for the chance to train with professionals in the Bay Area, playing with a handful of other top rated teenagers on a team called G League. Ignite the other Jalen Jaylin Johnson, where he made news last week when he announced that he was opting out of the rest of his freshman season at Duke. Johnson entered the season as a projected lottery pick, but that might be in doubt after an up and down 13 games in Durham, his decision to leave midway through the season was predictably divisive. So, Stefan, it’s not surprising that in an unprecedented year of basketball, of unprecedented everything really, that this would produce these kind of wildly different outcomes among top prospects.
S2: No. And the link between them and what we’re seeing in in college sports more broadly is that there’s more player empowerment. The NBA was really smart. I mean, this is over a decade in the making. I think in 2009, I wrote a couple of pieces for the Atlantic about efforts to to to to do the Brandon Jennings route and go overseas. I hung out with Lance Stephenson when he was in high school and was mulling whether to go to college or go overseas. So this is a gradual blossoming of the realization that, look, there’s got to be better routes here than one and running. And what the Jaylin Johnson story shows is that in this crazy covid season, even one and done is not something that you need to finish because the risks are too great. Duke is a 500 team. He has had some injuries, and Johnson and his family and his representatives decided that we need to shut this down and get ready for the NBA. This is not worth it. So the Jalen Greenside is much more proactive, right? It’s about training to be an NBA player and being on a team with some other high school aged players who are being mentored by former NBA players. The league is run by Sharif Abdul Rahim. The sort of lead veteran on a night is Jarrett Jack. But Jack’s playing a bunch of minutes. But he’s got the former high school age players have the most minutes in addition to him on this team.
S4: And they’re five and two things that I find so interesting about this that it seems to have been so well designed and planned. Like the salaries seem reasonably fair.
S1: They’re giving them the right kind of approach around coaching and veterans and not just a bunch of young guys. And like, they get old, they get college scholarships. So, yeah, the thing that’s interesting is like what took so long, it doesn’t seem like this was that complicated. And as you said, Stefan, this is in the works for ten years. Seems like something you could have put together in a lot less time than that. And the reason that they did it ultimately was pressure from Australia, where the Melo Ball and RJ Hempton went and pressure from other guys considering going abroad. But with all of the kind of like, you know, tut tutting and clucking of tongues, concern, trolling about young players and one and dones and perhaps the pros over the years. Joel, it just. It’s striking to me that the NBA had just never chosen to do anything about it until now.
S5: Yeah, well, I think they realized that they were, you know, basically turning over the training in the development of the the future of their game to, you know, all these disparate, you know, institutions, you know, whether it was, you know, any random college, any random, you know, international league and all these other other paths. And if they don’t take control over that, then I mean, they’re actually actively hurting their future products. So, of course, it made sense for them to do that. And I also think about the fact that, you know, so there’s all of these paths into the NBA now or it seems like there’s an increasing number of them. And also, you know, we’re probably looking at the next time there’s a new CBA. There may be a change to the draft eligibility rules and where they may allow high school players to enter the draft again.
S4: And so there’s a question about whether this is just like some interim step, like maybe G League ignite will only exist for like two years or something.
S5: Right, exactly. And and through all of this, I’m just wondering, what is college basketball going to do to compete? They need to give top players a reason to play and to stay. Right. You know, of course, obviously, the NBA is the one that comes up with these draft rules and they’re the ones that created the one and done phenomenon. But college basketball has had no problem taking advantage of the rules that benefit them. And they haven’t done anything that would make it compelling for these top prospects to say, hey, look, maybe I should just swing by and plan to ask for you like all these other alternatives.
S2: Look, a lot more interesting isn’t one of the reasons, Joel, that the that we haven’t seen this over the last decade or that it has taken this long for the NBA to do it. As the NBA has been supportive of college basketball, it has been reluctant to completely undermine college basketball. One of the reasons the draft eligibility rules changed whenever it was after, you know, after CGY, Kevin Garnett was that the NBA didn’t want to discourage college and there was pressure there. And what we’re seeing now is that the train is leaving. And, you know, I think the ignite will continue, Josh, because it I think they’re going to find that look, the NBA draft is only two rounds, not that many high school players are going to get drafted. They’re still going to be a handful of competitive players that are going to be able to benefit from this environment. And it would be foolish for the NBA to get rid of it after a year or two because they’re letting, you know, five or six high school kids get drafted.
S12: Yeah, it’ll be interesting if a guy like Jalen Green in a universe where he could go straight to the NBA, would consent to being on this development team as opposed to being going straight to an NBA bench. I think you can imagine a version of this where, like the other guys who are on this team now, like Jonathan Kamanga, et cetera, would be on Ignite, but maybe Jalen Green would be on an NBA roster. His his his to say. But the thing about college basketball is that it’s like free promotion. And, you know, free training that the NBA doesn’t have to, you know, spend any kind of marketing budget or even these kind of relatively low rent salaries on these guys. And, yeah, I mean, it’s an indication that they see the writing on the wall and that they think that college basketball is weak and crumbling and are maybe less interested now in trying to prop it up.
S2: Well, then I wonder, Joel, you look at this season, Kentucky is not good. Duke is not good. There are other teams that typically are in the top twenty five that are not Michigan State, are they are players, high school players that are looking at this now and going, oh, I read about Jalen Green and that dude’s putting in, you know, scoring 17 points a game, playing against man and getting all of this assistance and still making half a million dollars for the season. That’s looking a little more, you know, attractive.
S5: Yeah. Everything is so unprecedented about this year, though, right? Because it’s really tough to compare what college basketball normally is with what it is this year. Because, you know, let’s let’s just say you dream of playing college basketball. Well, this isn’t remotely like your dream. There are no Cameron crazies. There’s no opportunity to play at North Carolina, Virginia with a crowded arena and experience that rivalry for what it is. There’s not even like a lively campus atmosphere or most of these colleges right now. So, I mean, there’s not you know, I can totally understand why somebody like Jalen Johnson looks at that and says, well, wait, what am I like? You know, our team might not even make the tournament and we don’t even know what the tournament is going to look like this year compared to other tournament. So why would I, like, put this multimillion dollar investment that is myself at risk for a dream that’s not even really a dream this year. So, yes, Stefan, you mentioned that, you know, maybe these athletes are looking at, you know, what’s happening this year and they say maybe we should try that G league thing or whatever. And I wonder if because even this year it is so weird and so unprecedented that it’s really tough to take anything from it. But I also think back to when Leonard Fournette bailed on LSU and the Citrus Bowl to protect his draft status. The guys were like, well, wait a minute, you’re right. Those games are exhibitions. Why would I put my body on the line? Why would I put my draft status on the line for an exhibition, which is all of this basically is right.
S12: Yeah, totally, I do think that, like Kid Cunningham at Oklahoma State is probably going to be the number one pick like he’s having probably. For the college basketball season, the best outcome one could have, like you said, a bunch of like game winning shots, he’s been able to, like, test himself against some of the best teams and players in the country. And like he’s only elevated his reputation among NBA scouts like Mumolo Ball. Going to Australia didn’t seem to hurt, like he actually seemed to have helped his reputation by going there, like getting out of America. And he’s been really good for Charlotte, I think has exceeded or at least met expectations. And so I think ultimately, no matter what these guys do, if you’re really good, you’ll be fine. I think it’s probably. And this conversation can feel a little bit weird because with like the one and done thing, it’s just like a clear injustice that affects an extremely small number of players. And like, the bigger injustice is just like college sports more broadly. But these guys are like important as like symbols and representations in addition to being like human beings that we should, like, value their experience. But like when you see a guy like Jalen Greene succeed in this path. That influences the culture, the larger culture around like basketball and amateur basketball and pro basketball, and so it’ll be the like, you know, not guys one through three maybe who are like ultimately are most affected by it, but guys like four through two hundred.
S2: Right, because every piece of publicity off of and green, I mean, I read a piece by and we read a piece by Michael Lee in The Washington Post, I’m sure there have been features on ESPN and I’m sure there’s a lot of stuff on social media about him that is going to make players four, three, one hundred go, wow, I didn’t even know about that.
S5: Or this looks real. Well, you know, what’s really interesting to me is that of like, let’s just kind of limited this era of college basketball to maybe the last 10, 15 years. Right. Whether it’s, you know, sort of the change and, you know, summer basketball and all that stuff, I can really only think of one guy who was clearly helped by going to college basketball in terms of elevating his status and increasing his visibility. And that Zion Williamson. Right. Like that’s one guy who notably went to college and was able to sort of trade on that and turn himself into a star before these other guys. It almost sort of doesn’t matter like they could go to college. They don’t necessarily have to go to college. But the biggest thing to this, to me is that, like, none of this. None of this is a suitable arrangement in the whole scheme of things in terms of taking on the injustice of college players, not getting paid because OK, Jonathan coming Jaylen Green get five hundred thousand dollars this year. Great that handful of guys. But like there have been a number of studies that have shown that a starting basketball player on any of the, you know, the power five programs, they’re worth about 800000 to one point two dollars million a year. So like even even the guys that you think of business that are getting paid, you know, 500000 dollars a year to play for G League at night, it’s still not really tap into what they’re actually worth. And this isn’t a this like so this shouldn’t be posed just like some sort of solution for the top athletes or even any of the athletes that go on to play on college basketball, because it’s not they’re still not getting what they deserve. It’s just another path so that they don’t have to play a part in this particular form of exploitation. Right.
S2: And that’s what made to me the reaction to Jaylin Johnson opting out of Duke at this point in the season. So, you know, predictably awful quitting on his team, not being a great teammates, going to hurt his draft stock, the total lack of, you know, concern for him in his future. I mean, yeah, not surprising, but given everything else, I mean, Duke was living in a hotel. I mean, they still are the players. The Duke women’s team canceled its entire season at the behest of the players. Mike Krzyzewski canceled the entire nonconference schedule in December.
S5: QUINTER And he was the one that said he suggested maybe they should shut down the season. Just yes, Mike Shinseki, he’s the person who has undergone the least amount of inconvenience in this scenario. Right. He’s rich, he’s getting paid. He’s at home. The system still works for him, even amid a pandemic. And even he was like, I don’t know if I want to do this. This doesn’t seem so fun. So imagine if you’re Jalen Johnson and you’re hurt and you’re putting it on the line and your team isn’t even any good. And this all sucks for you, too. I mean, of course, he would be a person that would be like, well, why would I go through this doesn’t make any sense.
S12: Yeah, I mean, anything that anybody does, any player does during the pandemic is not susceptible to any of like the tropes we have about quitting. And being a good teammate like that doesn’t it’s not that’s not the right conversation to have this year. And, you know, you could argue that it’s never appropriate to have that conversation about college sports when they’re not getting paid. I I think there’s actually some room for debate and disagreement there. Like if this was a normal year and the guy is like, not hurt and he left with a month to go, I think you could have like an argument about like, is that actually a shitty thing to do to your team and your teammates? But that’s like not what we should be talking about this year. And I guess a final. Thought that I would have about this whole thing, is it like there was like a G league night before gelignite and that’s Kentucky? It is.
S4: And Calipari saw that as the role he was playing would talk publicly about Kentucky as being a finishing school for young prospects. And it often has functioned that way. I think, you know, you’re right to single out Tzion job, but I don’t think Anthony Davis or Michael Kidd Gilchrist, who is number two in the draft.
S1: I think there are a lot of guys who went to Kentucky and given the system that was in place then and to a large extent now, would not say that they were screwed by that experience. So it is, I think, good.
S4: It’s like an iterative improvement to have that system now be one where you can actually get paid and have it be through the auspices of the NBA rather than this like weird, like kind of bizarro version of it that happens within the amateur NCAA model.
S5: Yeah, no, absolutely, I I mean, this is better, you know, I mean, we’re getting closer to something that appears like a better system for the players and something that I don’t think any of us on this podcast are like fans of the NCAA. So I definitely think that this is something that is going to make the NCAA have to compete and do something different. And if if that’s all that the league night accomplishes, then fantastic. But I want to ask you guys a question. Do you guys know who’s on the G League igniting, you know, one of the one of the veterans? Amir Johnson, Jarrett, Jack two, I mentioned Jack, Jack, Jack. OK, so Jack played in the 2004 four Final Four and this is going to make all of us feel so old. Jalen Green was born in 2002. I mean, I can only imagine what that locker room is like for Jerry. Jack, what is he doing? Why is he playing in the G League? His mentor, mentoring our young people. That is why he says he’s doing it OK. He’s putting up 13 points a game to eight. Just I’m sure those 13 points on all in the name of mentoring.
S4: But the mere I mention the Amir Johnson thing, I think Michael mentioned in his piece, he was the last guy to be drafted right out of high school. And I don’t know if they put him on the team specifically for that reason. But there is a nice kind of synergy there.
S2: I like to think of myself as a compassionate person, and every so often I experience a small, sympathetic pang for Frederick Price. As you probably remember, Vice was the seven foot two French basketball player over whom literally over whom legs splayed crotch to the crown of the head. Vince Carter dunked in the 2000 Olympics. If Twitter had existed, a million people would have simultaneously tweeted, I’d like to report a murder. The French press dubbed the incident the dunk of death. Carter’s dunk, quite literally, might have killed poor Frederic Vises NBA career. He had been drafted in the first round by the Knicks, but never played a game in the league. I have that little twinge on Friday after Anthony Edwards of the Timberwolves committed a capital crime against poor Utah Watanabe of the Raptors. Watanabe is on a two way league contract, and let’s hope he doesn’t get sent down soon because it’ll look like Frederick Vyse Part two. Let’s listen.
S13: Turned over to Anthony Edwards that time, he does finish. With the exclamation point. What about he got his feelings hurt on this one?
S2: I mean, that is absolutely filthy. It’s been very few talks look like that, put it on the posters after the game, Edwards said he didn’t care about the dunk because his team lost and he shot three for fourteen from the field, et cetera, et cetera. Joel, you know that Edwards watched that clip like 500 times over the weekend. Whatever happens in his career, he’ll be making greatest dunk videos forever.
S5: So this is how you know that this is a real time reaction on my part, because I had not just heard the audio of this clip before. Has anybody pointed out that they were playing the song Murder was the case in the background with that dunk? I mean, that happened before after the dunk I don’t like, but. Yeah, no, I mean, like everybody else, that’s one of the best in-game dunks I’ve ever seen in my life. Like there’s the degree of difficulty. He started this jump from outside of the lane. He got up over a six foot eight defender and he got up so high and so clean like his head is above the rim. And as you can hear from the clip, he brought it down with so, so much force it pretty much every element of a great dunk that you’d be looking for. And the thing that was interesting to me about Anthony Edwards, because he’s in terms of personalities, he’s like one of my favorite professional athletes going right now. He just has this great I call it in Atlanta s attitude, like he’s just very Atlanta. And if people have lived in Atlanta, you know what I’m talking about. But he had this, like, very singular response to the dunk, which was like, what? Look look what I did. You know, I’m saying like usually with other great dunks, like there’s like a flex or a mean mug or somebody pretend to be, like, theatrically stunned at their own feet. But like, Anthony was like, oh, man, that was pretty cool. And yeah, just like it. Just a reminder of the athletic talent and explosiveness that made Edwards the number one pick. Like, I hope that this is the start of something for him. But even if it’s not, he has this to add to the canon.
S1: Indeed he does. Yeah. The thing that I find kind of mysterious is that.
S11: Despite his presence very robustly in your interest, and I do not feel like, you know what, Nabay has been kind of talked about as a main character in this dunk in the same way that Frederick Weiss was and trying to puzzle through why that is because obviously the reason why we’re talking about this is because he dunked on that dude like it’s not the same. There’s like nobody in the lane, nobody to give a sense of scale, nobody to, you know, just power the foil over. Yeah, exactly. But I feel like you’re one nabay different than Frederick Vise because. He didn’t get jumped.
S4: Over in the exact same way, but also he’s like just anonymous enough, like if you were what Nabay had been, I don’t know, Kyle Lowry or if it had been, you know, Pascal Suhakam or something, then Joel, you’re shaking your head, you know.
S5: Don’t you think it’s because he’s not seven foot two, like I mean, if he had been seven foot two that I think that this becomes. You remember that along the lines of that Carter dunk, right? That makes it that much more special because Watanabe’s is only six eight, which is I mean, clearing and dunking on a six foot eight guys is it is an impressive feat. But he’s not seven to right, Josh?
S4: He’s not seven two. But I do feel like he will not be remembered just based on early returns. It doesn’t seem like he’s going to be remembered for this forever in the same way that Frederick Vyse was.
S2: Well, which is interesting, Josh, because, you know, the foil needs to be, I think, someone semi anonymous. The way Fred advice was in the way you got Watanabe is I don’t think, you know, if he had done that against another NBA star, I. I don’t know that the reaction is the same. It’s good to have a sort of Washington generals on a dunk like that.
S11: Well, OK, let’s talk about we’re going to get into our favorite dunks or most memorable dunks. And so let’s roll right into that one that I occasionally enjoy. Just firing up for old time’s sake is the DeAndre Jordan on Brandon Knight, where he sent him out of the screen.
S1: On and that was one on an alley oop lob from Chris Paul to Jordan, and he just got a really high and you need the dude into another dimension.
S11: And Brandon Knight was like on the ground for a while. There was a certain like kind of just totally defeated countenance on him that right there for a while.
S5: That’s like he like he laid on the ground, man. I mean, he made it worse. Don’t you think of it. If he had just got popped up to his feet, like maybe it wouldn’t have seemed quite as bad.
S11: So that that dunk just had elements that the Anthony Edwards dunk was lacking. You had the DeAndre Jordan stink face after he made it, which was incredibly memorable. You had Caron Butler laughing. You had it just on the ground looking like literally he had been killed so wide. I don’t mean to diminish the Anthony Edwards dunk. I feel like the Jordan one is useful to look at in terms of like the taxonomy of the different elements that you can have in an all time great dunk.
S2: And you know the opposite of that. I said, like, it’s helpful to have a foil who’s not famous. I mean, one of my favorite dunks and this is part fandom is John Starks going left handed over Horace Grant and Michael Jordan in the 1993 playoffs. And it’s partly because he takes two huge steps to get to the rim and does a sort of demi windmill to get the ball out in space and throws it down over them. And in that case, it’s who he’s doing it to. I mean, the Knicks, of course, lost every fucking series they played against the Bulls in the nineties, and that was depressing. But this was sort of the salvation moment. And I think, like the historical context sometimes matters. And in the John Starks dunk, I think it does.
S5: Well, it’s interesting that you mentioned that. Right, especially about the Knicks losing because I was watching that ESPN Top Fifteen Dunks list, and it has Pippen Duncan on on, um, which is a series that the Knicks actually won. And I didn’t think that Pippins dunk was that great, to be honest. I mean, I thought that was cool, you know, that’s fine. But I didn’t it wasn’t something that’s memorable.
S4: That one is that he kind of pushed Ewing after he stepped over the rim and.
S5: Yeah, went to Spike Lee and told him to sit his ass down. But probably and this is you know, people are going to accuse me of bias here. But I think probably the dunk that made me most leap out of my seat was T-Mac Duncan on Bradley on Sean Bradley when he played with the Dallas Mavericks, because, I mean, Shawn Bradley, seven foot six. Once again, you’ve got like scaling this this tall building. Right. And it just was so humiliating. He’d like it in a way like encapsulated all of Sean Bradley’s career, which in which everybody in the NBA seemed to like, be it like they just seem to be a magnet to the rim. Like as soon as they saw him there, they were like, oh, yeah, I got to go climb that. And it just felt like I don’t remember Sean Bradley playing another minute in the NBA after that. And I’m sure he did, but it just didn’t feel like I ever saw it happen again.
S1: Joel, you have to take some points off because everybody Dunton Sean Bradley.
S5: That’s true. But he was six and he was the perfect foil, right. He was. McGrady’s was in the taxonomy that definitely that that qualify. I’m just going to go ahead, say it. I, you know I it’s probably uncomfortable but I also felt like the NBA players are kind of racist. When Bradley this this, this white guy thought oh oh no, it’s like his presence in the league offended them. They actively went after him. But but hey, man, that’s kind of racism I signed up for.
S4: But yeah, there was a dunk in the ESPN top fifteen of Tom Chambers on Mark Jackson.
S5: And that is to say, it didn’t hit him with the I think I think touching anything in the throat. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Well, you know, look man, I give Tom Chambers, I mean that’s another one of those dunks that people just kind of forget. And Tom Chambers being like one of the NBA’s great dunkers kind of gets overlooked, too, because it happened a long time ago. The misses in the eighties. Right.
S2: So, well, they hold that top fifteen also included Shaq bringing down the backboard, which at number nine in that felt bogus to me because he wanted to do it. He hung up there and yanked as hard as he could. It was planned.
S1: Do you feel like they’ve done a better job reinforcing the back boards and like making the glass unbreakable? Because, yeah, the ultimate dunk would be one of the ones we’re talking about. Plus the backboard comes down. Mm hmm. Yeah, but the league seems to want to deprive us of that ultimate moment.
S5: Yeah, I think that’s interesting. The kids have been sort of denied the explosion piece of dunking like when we grew up, like you would every now and again see somebody dunk so hard that the backboard would explode and it would shatter into pieces of glass. And in fact, people that are old enough to have played video games on a computer. So there was the. Dr. Jay, first, Larry Bird, one on one computer game, and one of the things that would happen is that if they’ve dunked in such a way, the backboard would shatter. And I kind of miss that. Like, I know that it was dangerous. You shouldn’t have glass flying all around the court. People kind of. I kind of miss that. The Darryl Dawkins days when guys, you know, bring a gold down and tear rim off and stuff, you know, there should be like one game a year.
S1: Where they make the backboard, they don’t tell anybody in advance, but they make the backboard out of like some fake movie glass and just have it shatter and then like it can be like the secret word on Pee wee’s Playhouse, where just like the confetti comes down and all that stuff happens, they kind of they can plan for it. But it would just be like a random game on, like an NBA league pass on a Thursday night. It would be amazing promotion.
S5: Yeah. You got to have it with a team, though, that has a known duncker like, you know, somebody like Donovan Mitchell or somebody like that. Like can’t you know, if you give your having it against the Warriors, it probably is not going to do the same thing. But yeah, I’d like that would be awesome. I think that, I think the kid should get that one I think. And I think that’s like I don’t know about you all, but like the dunk is what made one of the things that made basketball appealing to me as a sport, like it was one of the fun things. And it’s one of those things that very few people can sort of relate to it. It emphasizes like the difference between us and them in terms of athleticism, like these guys can, like, get up there like that and and do something that not very many humans on this earth can do.
S2: And the way historically, the dunk was wielded as a tool to prevent fans from enjoying particularly African-American basketball players from doing amazing things is shameful. I mean, the NCAA banned the dunking from sixty seven to seventy six. The Alcindor Rule. A lot of people called it right.
S4: And that, you know, and that and it was put into effect after an all black starting five at Texas, western Kentucky in the 66 championship game, but also as this article you sent around, Stefa noted, because of the University of Houston’s pregame dunking display at the 1967 Final Four, Jol Houston was just so awesome.
S1: Yes. That the white powers that be of the sport, we’re like, we’ve we got to regulate this black team from doing all these awesome dunks.
S5: I was going to say something. I know that sometimes my steady stream of Houston talk can be a little bit obnoxious in this case. It’s appropriate. Not appropriate. Yeah, right. But in terms of like my view of sports, like growing up there and watching teams was part of my formative sports fandom experience. And the first team that I loved growing up was five Slama JAMA. And so like they were sort of the inheritors of that, you know, those early you have teams that were the first to integrate and, you know, the dunk and everything. And, you know, I think, like we said in that story, the stuff and sit around and that we’re going to link to that. The day after the dunking display at the nineteen sixty seven Final Four, the NCAA banned dunking for like a decade. But see, that’s the thing that I love about, like the ingenuity of basketball, because Guy V. Lewis, who is you have his head coach at the time, love the dunk and encourage his players to do it. And he insisted on and he said it was a high percentage shot. Now, remember, back then, Coach Lewis is 60 years old, right? He’s already an old white guy from AAFP, Texas who is like this is something that we can use as an advantage. And so whenever I see people try to discount the meaning of dunks or ain’t nothing but two points, I just always think about that history of the game that like people have always been sort of trying to malign dunking just like unskilled or like primitive or something, but like it actually is an effective and highly efficient shot. And it also makes a lot of fans of people. And of course, the NCAA wanted to get rid of it because why would the NCAA make smart rules? Right.
S4: So let’s do a quick pull on this Anthony Edwards dunk. Do you guys feel like in ten years this will be a dunk that will be on these compilations? Or do you think it’ll be kind of ephemeral? Because the one that I’ve been thinking about is the dunk over Tim Hardaway Junior on the break in twenty eighteen.
S1: I’ve been watching it on a GEF just on repeat as I was talking to you guys, but I remember the night that that happened. That kind of breaking the Internet and Yoni’s literally jumped over a dude on the fast break, and it was the most incredible thing that I ever seen, but I feel like kind of shockingly, it’s not.
S4: You know, three years later, a dunk that people are still talking about and I’m not sure why, and so I guess I’m asking you guys to prognosticate, do you feel like this Anthony Edwards dunk will be what will still retain its power in a month or a year or 10 years?
S5: I think it’s tough, man, you know. There’s so many there’s so much information to hold onto our heads now and so many memories over our head now about everything. I can’t imagine that we’ll remember a time that a Timberwolf banged on a Raptor in a mid-February game with no stakes. I like to think about the Baron Davis dunk over Andre Korolenko, which is another one of my favorites, right. Is that it happened in the playoffs and those were the We Believe Warriors. And then he pulled his shirt and he pulled, which revealed a torso that was surprisingly punchy for the NBA.
S1: But but, yeah, maybe Anthony Edwards didn’t like sell it enough yet. He, like, was a little too cool about it.
S2: Yeah. Yeah. I don’t know, but it’s got it has a lot going for it, you know. He dunks over a bigger guy, four inches taller, he dunks over sort of a hapless foil, anonymous NBA player. It’s more humiliating in some ways when that happens. And I think pure humiliation is the secret to a lasting dunk video. And I think this has it.
S5: Yeah, he fell in the way that only a 19 year old can fall, by the way, in a dunk. Like, just just get up, pop right up. Not a big deal. The land is OK.
S2: Now it’s time for after balls, and I thought we could go with another dunk that is historic, not impressive because the video is super grainy and you can’t really see what’s going on. It is the first dunk by a woman in a college game in 1984. George and Wells of West Virginia did it in a little gym in Elkins, West Virginia, against the University of Charleston. There were only like 100 people there. Reed Albergotti of the Wall Street Journal did a terrific piece about this in 2009. It was believed for like 25 years that there was no video of this dunk. And the reason is that the coach of the University of Charleston was kind of a jerk. He had it. And whenever anyone asked for it, he would say that it didn’t exist. We had stopped filming the game after halftime. He felt embarrassed that his team was the first team to allow a woman to dunk against it. So he hid the tape and Albergotti reported it out and tracked down the coach’s son, the coach who died. The son found a box of VHS cassettes in the attic, and one of them said 1984 Elkin’s. And that was the game. And Reid told me over the weekend that he put it on a CD and when he went to interview, George Wells played it for her. It was the first time she had ever seen it. And she broke down in tears. This great. Josh, what’s your George Wells?
S11: Great. After all, I am totally a totally deserving Georgian wealth, so I spent a little bit of time looking into posterization, the concept and where it came from, reference being that when you dunk on a Watanabe type, you are putting them on a poster. And there’s some stuff online in the Wikipedia entry for a poster dunk and elsewhere that says it was first used in reference to Dr. J. And I was not actually able to track that down. I was able to find a story from the Philadelphia Tribune in nineteen seventy eight about Dr. J. Poster DE. And the the poster capturing one of his patented slam dunks, I don’t know if that’s what the reference is, that there is a Dr. Jay poster.
S4: I found another story from the L.A. Times in 1982 that talks about a freshman basketball player, USC, who was really good at dunking, who had a life sized poster of Julius Erving on the wall of his dorm room. So, Doctor, Dr. Jay was involved with dunking in with posters. We can confirm that. But with the help of America’s leading wordsmith, Stefan Fatsis, I was able to determine that, you know, the first reference, at least that we could find was by Michael Wilbon in nineteen ninety one in The Washington Post, writing about actually not a dunk about the famous, quote unquote spectacular move by Michael Jordan and the NBA finals against the Lakers, where he switched hands in midair to have a lefty layup. And Wilbon wrote, There is no indication that Sam Perkins would jump and attempt to block MJ shot. Probably Perkins just wanted to get out of the way and not be, quote, posterized, which is what happens when the dunk is humiliated by the dunker. And we have to assume that this is a very early reference because Boban doesn’t just say posterized. He then in the phrase afterwards, explains what the term means.
S2: That’s called the glossing loss, a term.
S4: I was also just backtracking a little bit, able to find a nineteen eighty nine story in the Chicago Tribune, which includes this tidbit. Magic guard Scott Skiles said he was surprised when a youngster asked him to sign his poster of Skiles. There are no National Basketball Association posters of Skiles. As it turned out, it was a poster of Jordan dunking over Skiles. I should have asked for royalty’s, said Skiles. So again, the concept of posterization had been established, at least by the late 80s, if not the term posterized.
S2: But I’m going to now give some of my time back over to Mr. Fatsis, the word nerd, and let him enlighten us further and well, the verb posterized actually goes back, according to Merriam Webster, in nineteen forty three, meaning just to print on a poster or to make a poster, which is why you see some of those pasteurizing and sports referring to literally post. I got very excited at one point this morning when I was doing one of these database pontes for the first term and I was like posterized and like basketball. And I was like, oh yeah, it was like Julius Erving on a poster. So I think we’re going to assume that. Ninety one and Wilbourne is probably an earlier citation that if we had more time we could find. But that seems about right in terms of when Posterized became a thing. And when I did my a couple of years embed at the at Merriam Webster, I actually defined posterized in the sports sense. And I’m very proud to note that it has been added to the online dictionary. All the words that I got in it went through a pretty heavy edit by my editor, but Bider never complains about that stuff.
S1: And come on, I have some grace.
S2: I’m being I’m not complaining. I’m just being up front. I a little I wrote these words. Exactly. So he attended. I had to find one sense. He added a sense US sports informal to make a memorable and visually striking play against in Perens an opponent and then especially basketball, to make a forceful and overpowering dunk shot over Perens and overmatched defensive player. And there are two quotations in there. One of them I supplied the Sixers rookie use the two hands to posterized Harper grabbing his first highlight reel worthy dunk since being drafted in June. I’ll also say that in 2014 on this program I did an after ball about sports words that should be added to Scrabble because they just on a dictionary update and one of them was posterized, the foremost advocate for Posterized for quite some time.
S5: Yeah, well, I followed through, ma’am.
S2: I like I highlighted it and then I had the chance to do something about it. I took action and now it’s in the dictionary. It’s got an anagram. I noted in that piece. Privatizers, thank you for it.
S3: Thank you for that.
S4: I wonder if this is going to be one of those things, Joel, like how people of a certain age, a certain youthful age, like don’t know the the phone icon like because. Yeah, they don’t they don’t know what a landline phone looks like. Look, I wonder if people of younger. Bigger than us will be like, well, we’ll know that posterization is a thing, but like be unfamiliar with the concept of like a poster of an NBA player dunking on another player.
S5: Yeah, I mean, first of all, I guess they don’t make those anymore. Were those replaced by, like, the fatheads or whatever? Because I think the head was sort of the next was the the evolution in the poster, but. Yeah. Posters. Oh man.
S6: In fact, I mean I was kind of a nerd about it. Like I had a handful and I went through the whole process of getting them framed like I bought them. And I would have, you know, like the edges on them and everything. Oh yeah. I had a Magic Johnson when I had a D on when when he was with the 49ers, I had worn moon. I had a one sign from Scottie Pippen that was on my closet door. I had one from Emmitt Smith. I don’t even like Emmitt Smith.
S1: So you had an autographed Scottie poster, and yet you have the gall, the unmitigated gall to say that his dunk over Patrick.
S5: I mean, let me tell you, I went to Scottie Pippen to basketball camp at the University of Central Arkansas in 1990 and 91.
S6: And so I had to stay on campus in Conway, Arkansas, for a week. This is the first time I’ve been away from home. And I was like, well, it might be worth it if Scottie Pippen is going to be there, you know, like you think. Scottie Pippen showed up for a few minutes on the first day and was there for a few minutes on the last day. But the only thing that really, you know, I got out of that thing besides, you know, hooping up Pippin’s cousins from Hamburg, Arkansas, I really I kind of wore this out. But in addition to that, we got that signed autograph from Scottie Pippen. And so, you know, I was like, well, at least I got that out of it, you know?
S2: Before we wrap this up, I want to just note that in my piece, my after ball about sports words, two things. One, there was this line, another hoops word whose time has come in is posterized, as in remember when Vince Carter posterized for advice at the Olympics? Some other words that were in that piece had. But I defined that too and got it into Merriam Webster. Oh, like three peat, which is in identifying that ribhi as an ribhi as in RBI in baseball are Ibeyi that’s in now faceplant hyphenated is finally in the dictionary and vuvuzela to. I had mentioned there were a bunch in there that did not get in bracketology. Decollete I defined decollete has not gotten them.
S5: That should be in somebody talk about PAC because do you all remember, are you all old enough to remember when people would say if you, if you block somebody shot it was called a PAC? No, no idea. You guys remember that I felt somebody somebody right in or reach us on Twitter or something because back in the eighties, if you block somebody, we called it a PAC PAC. Yeah, I PAC that dude are you guys that’s like a regional Houston is.
S1: Yeah. We got we, I just, I just, I just can’t believe we like passed by Joel’s story and just didn’t really know the pain and sadness that they clearly you’re still you’re still not over being snubbed by Scottie Pippen. I just want to say I heard that.
S5: I heard it and. Well, I mean, your voice. I mean, I had to spend a whole week in Conway, Arkansas, you know, no offense, but I mean, you know, I mean, the least he could have done was stuck around a little bit. You know, Keith Pippen wasn’t enough of a distraction. If I’d known I was gonna spend more time with Keith Pippen and Scottie Pippen, I might’ve not gone.
S3: That is our show for today. Our producer this week, Jasmine Ellis. Listen to Pasha’s and subscribe or just reach out to Flatback. Come hang up. You can email us and hang up at Slate dot com and please subscribe to the show and rate and review us on Apple podcast and help us out. I understand. And Stefan Fatsis, Josh Levine remembers. MBT, thanks for listening.
S4: Now it is time for our bonus segment for Slate plus members Sunday afternoon, Zion Williamson scored twenty eight points in the New Orleans Pelicans, won twenty eight to 115 overtime win over the Boston Celtics biggest comeback in franchise history from twenty four points down plus. You know, let’s let’s not get too deep on the Pelicans franchise, I don’t want to bore you guys with franchise lore from the storied NBA team. The thing that’s been most fascinating about the Pelicans and Zion is that they are increasingly putting them out on the perimeter to run point like not every not every play, not even every quarter sometimes, but a bunch of times per game. And Nick Green wrote about this for Slate on Sunday. And it’s going like amazingly well, considering he has two hundred eighty five pounds and twenty years old. You know, Joel, we kind of knew going in to his NBA career that he was going to do a bunch of really special things with his athleticism.
S11: But I think what this has shown to me is that there’s a lot of really special stuff about Zion that does not have to do with just how high you can jump.
S5: Yeah, no, I mean, we’re doing all this, you know, Zionist point guard talk. Also, a day after the game, turning play came against Tristan Thompson, who is not a small man at six, nine and 250 pounds. And on the key possession of the game, he backed him down. I don’t know if people can watch that play. You can see Tristan Thompson leave his feet twice as Ishai and backs him down. And in Pivot’s, in the paint and scores, you know, ended up being a go ahead basket. But yeah, man, we knew the design was going to be great in one way or another. We knew he was we knew he was going to be exciting. Or exciting and great, and he’s turned out to be both, but yeah, they’re also more pedestrian pieces to the game that people had not seen. And I think that was what people said his freshman year at Duke because he was just more of a YouTube sensation. It’s like this big guy that was dunking on all these private school kids in South Carolina. And when he got to do, people thought, oh, he has a great handle. He has a really good feel for the game. He has great touch. He’s really smart. And like, obviously, that’s only getting better. Like, it’s it’s it’s it’s even more entertaining to see. Now, I feel like because, you know, the NBA game is just a little bit more it’s a little more open. And so it just allows you to see these guys, you know, you know, tap into all of their many talents out there.
S2: And it shouldn’t really surprise us to see Tzion being given more of this kind of responsibility. I mean, look, there’s a history here, right, with Magic and LeBron and other big men running the point. You know, it always sort of reminds you that if you took any NBA player off of an NBA court and put them on your court, he’d be better than any point guard, you know. Right. Everybody in the NBA has a handle. Almost the scariest thing about Zion is just the intimidation factor of him getting a head of steam, you know, outside the key and driving to the basket. It reminded me of a piece that Ben Cohen and Andrew Beeton did for The Wall Street Journal a couple of years ago, where they interviewed players who had taken a charge. From Zion, and it’s pretty funny, they asked a physicist to calculate what it would feel like, how much force on impact there is, and it was the equivalent of a head on collision with a jeep traveling 10 miles per hour.
S4: Go make your way to blasé about this stuff. And I mean, the thing about LeBron and you’re like, oh, yeah, there have been guys like this before, LeBron and Magic Johnson, just a couple of the greatest players in the entire history of this work.
S5: Things out there. Right.
S11: Whose whose abilities are like not readily replicable by anyone else, like, oh, yeah, there have been LeBron magic like this before, but he’s replicating them.
S5: But he is.
S4: But the thing about LeBron and magic is that like Reputational A. You you heard people say when LeBron was in high school, like his best skill is passing, like that was the thing that was said about LeBron and nobody said that about Zion. And I don’t think even when we saw his handle at Duke, when we saw his agility at the rim, I don’t think we saw this passing ability in the half court, which seems like, yeah, it’s more highly developed than you would expect from a guy who’s like hasn’t really done this and hasn’t done it on an NBA court and is 20 years old. So that to me, you know, is the quote unquote ceiling was always very high. But this to me has made it even higher. But I think Zion’s number one skill is not like passing or whatever, and it’s not the jumping. It is extraordinary agility in tight spaces and just the the ability to to score in the paint and at the rim when from like an intellectual and theoretical standpoint, Joel, he’s maybe the easiest player to defend because, you know, he doesn’t want to shoot and, you know, he wants to go left and just make layups and dunks.
S11: And yet his ability to do that when everyone knows what he wants to do is just a testament to how amazingly skilled he has.
S5: Do you know? So we talked about Bron, we talked about magic. Do you know what player he actually sort of reminds me of? Julius Randle? Yeah, that’s exactly. Yeah, that was my I watched a lot of Knicks basketball, of course. No. And this is going to maybe sound a little ridiculous given the context of the conversation. But I think Shaq, because, you know, the thing that made Shaq distinctive, I mean, he was a big guy, but at the time that he came into the league, there were a lot of big plodding sitters. Right. But the thing that made Shaq amazing was his footwork, his ability to get his quickness, his explosiveness. You could almost see guys continually surprised that this big dude is getting by them. And so, yeah, I just that what I look at it, Zyad, I’m like, would if Shaq had been allowed to dribble, right. Or to like to initiate somebodies offense. He led the break a little bit, Idella, back when he was skinny. Shaq Yeah. When Dale Brown would let anybody do anything. But yeah. Steffen’s like yeah he’s just like Shaq cross with LeBron. It’s like yeah obviously. Yeah. Nothing unprecedented about it. Yeah. Kind of weird that we’re talking about. I mean, we also know this guy, right, like we call it basketball position just now, like we talk a lot about positional, less basketball. All these guys can do this now, like there’s just not the regiment. The regimented way approach to basketball like there was even twenty years ago. It’s like all of you guys can shoot. All of you guys should be able to dribble.
S2: All of you guys should be able to, you know, do all of these many different roles on the floor because we need this version of the game requires it, but we don’t expect the two hundred and ninety pound guy to have that first step that he’s getting by, you know, six, six to twenty guys out outside the paint. I mean, that’s what watching all of the clips that Nick assembled for his piece really was like the ones where he just like blows by people. It’s like, holy shit.
S4: Yeah. I mean, the guy that he is most reminiscent of is Giannis like Giannis a big guy who can’t really shoot from Giannis We’ve got some guy Oh he’s a cross between Giannis Yeah right but this is Giannis is like the big guy with like insane proportions who plays point guard and is really good at passing in addition to everything else. I mean Giannis is the guy in the NBA who’s like more physically impressive than is like the issue and it’s not much of an issue for Ryan is that he’s just like not as tall as a lot of when you’re trying to score at the rim like he gets a shot, blocked a bunch, he’s like totally undaunted by it and just keeps going back and gets fouled and is actually improved his free throw shooting. But yeah, I guess it is just a testament to how amazing this kind of cohort of NBA players is that they’re like.
S11: You know, as you said, they’re just like a bunch of guys who can do this now.
S5: Yeah, yeah. It’s funny, I got a text group and we were talking about last night that the other the other comparison that was made last night was if Julius Peppers had been great at basketball, Julius Erving could have thrown him.
S1: All right. Well, now that we’ve compared Zion to every great basketball player, he’s sort of like wilt crossed with Jordan, I feel like.
S5: But we throw a lot of Russell top now. All right.
S1: You’re Tom about the handle. I think before we get even goofier, it’s time to let you go Slate plus members. But I promise we’ll be back with more next week.