Draymond & Durant tell all, Pacquiao's Future + Tamyra Mensah-Stock | Crooked Media
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August 24, 2021
Draymond & Durant tell all, Pacquiao's Future + Tamyra Mensah-Stock

In This Episode

This week on Takeline, Tamyra Mensah-Stock talks about being the first black woman to ever win an Olympic gold medal in wrestling, and shows off her karaoke skills. Jason and Renee discuss the sit down interview between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green and how it will impact NBA team/media relationships Plus, research fellow Risa Isard joins to present her findings on how the media promotes white WNBA players more than black WNBA players.


Don’t forget to smash the subscribe button at http://youtube.com/takelineshow for exclusive video clips, original crooked sports content and to watch ALL CAPS NBA. 





Renee Montgomery: If anybody has seen Manny Pacquiao shoot a jump shot, that’s where, that’s where he lost me. Manny Pacquiao lost me, I think it was around the Floyd-Mayweather fight, I believe, where he casually went to a basketball court. And guys, I’ma just give this out, this PSA out, to all guys out there: you want to casually shoot around and your jump shot looks wild? Don’t do it. I just, I would just say don’t do it. It ain’t for everybody, because that’s the only thing I think of. Every time I hear Manny Pacquiao’s name, I think of him on that court shooting those shots and I’m scarred from it. So he’s one of the best, there’s no question, you know, but leave the basketballs alone. That’s all I’m going to say. As you retire, go into golf, do what all the other athletes do. You got to leave the basketball alone. I’m sorry.


Jason Concepcion: Last week, a sit down interview between Draymond Green and Kevin Durant took the sports media and NBA media space by storm as they detailed the events after the two had an argument back in 2013 during a regular season game against the Clippers. What’s notable here is that Draymond and KD essentially lightly pushed coach Steve Kerr and GM Bob Myers, under the bus for how that was handled. KD is quoted as saying, quote: It wasn’t the argument, it was the way that everybody, Steve Kerr, acted like it didn’t happen. Bob Meyers tried to just discipline you, Draymond Green, and think that that would put a mask over everything. There’s no doubt that Steve and Bob Meyers are going to be asked about this when the season starts. So the question is here, as players continue to take their message directly to fans through outlets like The Players Tribune and any number of podcasts and streams, how do teams deal with this as it comes up, as criticism towards teams begins to get aired by players in forums that teams are just going to be ambushed by?


Renee Montgomery: Yeah, well, first of all, you got to be about your business nowadays, you know, in a sense of like, you know, there’s the athlete side of it, but there’s the business side of it. And so, you know, as far as business, the Golden State Warriors have to be in shambles over there just because that’s not something that’s going to be like you said, they’re going to be questions once the season starts. And when I say in shambles, no, I don’t mean the program’s tearing down, but this is a real issue that has to be addressed, not even the issue of just KD and Draymond. But now there’s a there’s a systematic issue like, well when we do have problems now, what do we have to do? And so I think about it from that point of view. But for me, I’m excited that the players have somewhere that they can voice their opinions. Look, we watched Malice in the Palace. We all saw it. Players didn’t have an avenue to voice their side of the story when it came to the Malice in the Palace. And we saw what the media did when they had all the right to just roll with it. So I do understand that there’s like the great parts about it. You see athletes announcing their retirement. Hello, somebody is me. I’m that athlete. You see athletes announcing their trade. JJ Watt announced what new team he was going to be on via his social media. Now you see things like this. And I think it’s exciting because players need to have a voice. Players need to have that direct connection to the brands, to the fans. And in the same breath, though, boy, oh, boy, do a lot of organizations have to be a little bit nervous now.


Jason Concepcion: Of course.


Renee Montgomery: We got one tell-all player to player from Golden State. What if, you know, the Bulls are like, oh, gosh, I hope that so-and-so don’t do that. Or Toronto’s like, you know, now it starts to open up that, well, what if our players start to do tell-alls?


Jason Concepcion: You’re an owner now, so this is something that you’re going to have to deal with potentially in some form or fashion in the coming years. But like from a team perspective, what can you even do, I suppose, if they’re, you know, just as there are morality clauses in contracts, there might be something in there that’s like discussing team business, critiquing the team on a personal platform is frowned upon, yada, yada, yada, whatever the legalese language is. But then again, this is an incident from three years ago. Like even if you put even if you put something in that said, hey, please do not discuss team issues, team business on your personal platform during the season, that wouldn’t cover this because this is not even, you know, Draymond could just say this ain’t the team anymore. KD’s not on the team anymore, this is not the team.


Renee Montgomery: And that’s where it gets tricky because like at the end of the day, we know that there’s the player handbook and that’s the rules, aside from the NBA rules, that each team wants to implement is how many fines you’re going to get for this and what you’re going to get for that. So it’s like the playbook, the rule book that tells you basically how to behave. Yes, there’s moral clauses in there. There’s all those other things. But you can’t stop players from talking, you know what I mean? Like, yes, if you put that current season, that’s all well and good. And, you know, the fact it’s three seasons later, I do think took a little bit of the heat off of it because had this tell-all came out after the championship season, imagine, you know, imagine the media whirlwind. So they’re definitely lost some steam because of the years that had passed. But you can’t really do much. So for me, you know, you talk about like being a part of an ownership group here at the Atlanta Dream, well, that only means to me that we got to be on our P’s and Q’s. And I say this all the time, like the way we do business, whatever decisions we make, because sports is a business and people have to understand that friends get traded, players, best friends get traded, coaches get fired that could be close to the GMs. Like it’s a business. It happens. You can do business and you can do business the right way. So it’s not going to always be nicey nice. And it’s not going to always be great in a sense of man, we really love that player, we hate to see them go, but they’re not a good fit for us. That’s a real reality in sports. But now you got to just make sure you’re doing things the right way because players will talk about it if you want— because if a player talks about our organization and I know we did things the right way by the book and they’re just upset because they didn’t want to get traded, it sucks but you can handle that because no one really wants to get traded unless they want to get traded and so a part of reality. But when it comes to if you’re doing things the right way, that’s what it starts to really get Fugazi.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, the thing that I’ve been really fascinated with with regards to the story and with regards to just like the way things are changing, particularly in the W and in the NBA, is what it means for the so-called player empowerment era. Like you’re really seeing a time now where, you know, Bob Myers is the GM of one of the flagship teams in sports and had no idea that this was coming. Siefker had no idea. They just, legitimately part of their jobs now is somebody go listen to that podcast That Draymond is doing, somebody go listen to the podcast. JJ Redick is on, somebody go listen to All the Smoke, please, and let me know if there’s anything on there that I need to respond to. Like that is now part of your daily content ingestion if you are a GM/coach at that level and that’s crazy to me. That’s crazy to me.


Renee Montgomery: And you just brought up JJ Redick’s podcast. You need to talk about that because that podcast is so in tune with the NBA that it’s almost a step further than just we need to know what they’re saying. It’s almost like we need to know how to deal with it.


Jason Concepcion: Absolutely. That’s so that is the one that, you know, player empowerment, it’s like it’s very sexy to talk about stars and of course, like Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, James Harden, where they want to go, the things they want to do. Those are stories that that move the needle and everybody understands those. To me, it was like JJ Redick’s war of words with David Griffin, GM of the of the Pelicans, that is the one that to me is a real measure of how far this movement has really gone, because JJ like basically called out David Griffin for the way he communicated with him during a time when he was hoping to be traded to an Eastern Conference team in the Northeast to be close to his family. That didn’t happen. He kind of aired out David Griffin and then mentioned his agency, CAA—he’s at the same agency is Zion Williamson. That subtext is very clear. It’s like watch how you deal with players because they will talk. And, you know, fast forward to now, free agency, the Pelicans had a terrible free agency. David Griffin, by all reports, is like on the hot seat. And essentially, like David Griffin, the lead executive for one of the 30 NBA teams, has lost a war of words with JJ Redick, who no shots, like is not a star player, is basically a career roll player, veteran in the NBA, not a Kevin Durant-level, not a James Harden-level, like that you would even have to watch your P’s and Q’s with players who formerly were outside of like the spotlight, is a measure of what the situation is right now in these leagues.


Renee Montgomery: No, and you know, that’s interesting you say that because since the beginning of the history of life, of sports, of course, you always cater to the superstar. Like to your point.


Jason Concepcion: Everybody knows that.


Renee Montgomery: Everybody knows that you cater to the superstar. But then you have to your point, a JJ Redick, who he’s a guy that’s a great role player, you want him on your team, but also too now you need to be careful GMs, owner—like not necessarily owners—but GMs and the coaches because they’re watching and players are talking and your superstars have big platforms but there’s also these media platforms now where JJ Redick has a huge media platform! There’s no other way to put it. He has a very huge media platform and he’s using it to basically like the player empowerment benefit in the sense of players are coming on and telling all their stories, whether the good, the bad and the ugly. And I think that that’s really awesome for sports, because you get to hear the insight on what athletes deal with. And sometimes it’s not great for the management, but I think is great for sports because a lot of times people don’t know just everything that athletes go through, whether it’s a midseason trade, waking up to find out that you’re not going to that North-Eastern team because you got traded somewhere else. Like those are big blows. I was traded midseason. Those are big blows. It’s a part of sports. But I do like that these stories are getting heard.


Jason Concepcion: As an owner, like, has it has it happened yet where like y’all are talking about a player and you’re like, well, just FYI, they have a podcast, so let’s, you know, be aware of that.


Renee Montgomery: That never happened.


Jason Concepcion: Like, just like, it seems like, you know, that’s just the thing, like you got to be aware of now. This person have a podcast, do they have a stream?


Renee Montgomery: No, I mean, that’s a great question, Jason, because we don’t have podcasts on our team yet, you know, like honestly.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, but soon!


Renee Montgomery: But honestly, I want that. Like, I want our players to be, because with the WNBA, we know we’re not there yet making the money where you can just retire from the WNBA and retire period in life. Like we know that when you retire from the WNBA, you’re going to have to have a second career because the price point, the salaries, that’s just not there yet. So I’m one of those probably I know probably the other owners and other management when they hear this, they’re going to be rolling their eyes at me. But I am under the impression that I would love to have as many podcasts on our team as possible. Bring me the take talkers, bring me the bloggers, bring me the influencers, because that builds the team brand as well as their brand. And then with all of those brand-building things happening, here come sponsorships and other brands. And that’s just me being transparent.


Jason Concepcion: That’s a great point.


Renee Montgomery: There’s a give and take. But if we start to get, like I want the hoopers first, of course. But those hoopers are doing those other things. Of course I want them. I know a lot of people, though— that’s why I know that this is an unpopular opinion, though for some sports brands. They would rather let their company basically like we’ll handle getting the brands and the companies, but we don’t want—I love that people can know your player. Like if people know a player on the Atlanta Dream, they love her. They love her TikToks. Well, every time she’s on, they’re probably going to watch. They’re probably going to engage. And so for me, I think that everybody can win. I’m always about the everybody can win. So I want that.


Jason Concepcion: I mean, listen, I think it’s, whenever young people ask me, like, oh, how do I get like into media? How do I get, how do I become a writer? How do I get into sports stuff? I’m like, man, what’s your social media like? Like get on because that is advertising for you.


Renee Montgomery: That’s your resume.


Jason Concepcion: That’s your resume. Every time that someone wants to find out about you, where’s the first place they’re going to go? It’s super important. I wouldn’t have a job without Twitter and social media. And I think it’s a tremendous tool for people to establish a public face of who they are and to like bypass traditional gatekeepers. Like, I wouldn’t, you know, I didn’t go to journalism school, I didn’t go to one of those programs. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the fact that somebody saw my Twitter and was like, this person is, I guess, pretty funny and writes about sports in a funny way.


Renee Montgomery: Wait Jason, hold on! That is kind of crazy. How is that like, have you ever stopped to think about—


Jason Concepcion: I was just literally, I was just tweeting. I was working, I was like a delivery guy, I was delivering leather and then I started my Twitter account just to kind of like follow local beat writers so that I could set my fantasy teams, you know? Because like back then, this is like 2010, 2011, there weren’t like all-in-one fantasy sites with news that updated the rosters on their own. You had to go in and be like, OK, this person is injured or not playing or whatever, and then you set your lineup. So then I started doing that and then I just started like tweeting at various beat writers when they would say something, I started tweeting during games and it just took off. For whatever reason it just took off.


Renee Montgomery: That pretty dope, though. Like honestly, like I didn’t even know that back story. Everybody, we get to know each other every week as well as ya’ll all do. But that’s pretty, that’s got to be some amazing tweets. Come on now. I mean, and I follow—if you don’t follow Jason, you need to follow Jason because I enjoy following Jason when things are happening live. I enjoy seeing Jason’s opinion about things that have passed because he does this interesting thing where you cross the sports and the culture very well in your references for your tweets. So that is not, that is a plug that he did not ask for but it’s a good follow.


Jason Concepcion: I appreciate that.


Renee Montgomery: You are a good follow so I could see how you got a job. You’re a great follow. So there’s that.


Jason Concepcion: I knew that it was, I knew that there was a thing happening when—so  I was working that job, I was like delivering leather for a leather company.


Renee Montgomery: Leather!?


Jason Concepcion: Yeah. And they were like, hey, we’re going to start some social media stuff, like, you’re on Twitter, can you help us set up our Twitter account? I was like, yeah. So I helped them. I showed them how to set up the Twitter account. And they were like, let’s follow, we can follow you. Like, what’s your Twitter account? And I gave them my Twitter account. They’re like, why do you have thirty thousand followers?


Renee Montgomery: Oh my gosh. More than the company!


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, more than— why do you have more followers than the company? And I was like, I don’t know, because I’m back in the back room, like packing up orders and then tweeting like every ten minutes.


Renee Montgomery: Crazy.


Jason Concepcion: Yes. So that’s when I knew that maybe something happened.


Renee Montgomery: And to that point, so imagine you’re the player, right? And the company is, it’s the sports team. So imagine now you have all this power. Like think about the company now, if you’re a disgruntled employee and you want to sound off about your company. Yeah, that could be a scary thought for them, because now you have the power, because you have connection directly to the consumer, to the fans. And that’s basically exactly what’s happening in sports right now. The teams are honestly losing a certain level of power. And like for me, that’s why I said for somebody like me, I don’t really care about that because I feel like, oh, wow, the power is getting dispersed. So I kind of like that now there’s not a strong hold on it. But yeah, that’s the exact thing that’s happening in the sports leagues right now.


Jason Concepcion: In a sense, it’s really just like a more equitable rebalancing of the powers.


Renee Montgomery: Exactly.


Jason Concepcion: The players have always been the product. Nobody tunes in to watch the GM run around and and take threes. So really, this is a recalibration of what is kind of always existed, but now in a more equitable way that is truly affecting the way players move and the way that executives deal with their players. It’s wild. I have to mention my man, Manny Pacquiao, lightly, my man.


Renee Montgomery: What!?


Jason Concepcion: After a unanimous decision loss to Yordenis Ugas over the weekend, Manny Pacquiao may have entered the ring for the last time as a pro. The 42-year old fighter, who is heavily rumored to be running for president of the Philippines very soon, said after the fight, quote, “I need to relax and make a decision.” Already one of the greatest boxers of all time, with titles in a record eight weight classes. Just crazy. His supporters and detractors alike must now wait to see what will happen next. Listen, I decry a lot of Manny Pacquiao’s views, but like there’s no doubt in terms of, I’m a Filipino American—he put us on the map. Nobody really knew who we were, like as a nation, as a diaspora until Manny Pacquiao. When I was a kid, it was just like you were Chinese. I grew up in a white area, you’re like Chinese, maybe Japanese. Nobody knew what Filipino was. Manny Pacquiao changed that. So it really, really sad to see him go out but this happens to every fighter. And if he runs for president, I mean, the political situation over there is intense and dangerous a lot of the time. So, I mean, it’s, that is a real decision that you actually can’t take lightly. Pablo Torre from ESPN had a great podcast with Tim Keown recently about it. And people around Manny are like worried if he goes home that he could face threats to his life. Like, that’s legit. That’s how, that’s how it, that’s a lot of times how it works there. There are during election season, there are shootings, assassination that happens. So it’s dangerous. And I wish him the best. It is, it is a wild a truly wild thing. And maybe now when I walk into barbershops in New York City, dudes will stop saying “Pacquiao” as he—


Renee Montgomery: Of course not. If he’s retiring, then you’re definitely you’re definitely him now, just casually walking around the street. It’s going to get worse Jason.


Jason Concepcion: I don’t think I look like him, but—


Renee Montgomery: You don’t. You do not.


Jason Concepcion: There’s a lot of places I would walk in—I have been in so many, the most recent was like the last time I was in New Orleans, I was at a restaurant and dude started coming out the back. It’s always the dudes in the back because they often come from, you know, fight cultures and they start coming out the back and looking at me. I’m like, I know what this is. And then one would come out and then one would come out with another one and be like, look, see there. And then finally they came up and were like, Pacquiao, you look like Pacquiao. I’m like, OK, I don’t think I look like him, but I thank you.


Jason Concepcion: No, you’re Filipino and he’s Filipino and that’s the connection there. I actually got introduced to the Filipino culture young because I had a basketball coach, my head basketball coach in AAU when I was young—


Jason Concepcion: They, love basketball.


Jason Concepcion: Shouts to Oscar Ibraham. That was my basketball coach. Aisha was his daughter who played on my team as well. But, you know, that’s a real thing that you’re starting to see. Pacquiao, you know, this athlete activism or athletes in politics, like every turn now you see more and more athletes getting involved in different things. And even with a Pacquiao like possibly running for president, like that’s—


Jason Concepcion: It’s crazy.


Renee Montgomery: It’s crazy. And I love it all in once in a sense of he’s a name that people probably could get behind, like everything that it could do, a name that somebody can get behind. You could change a culture, you could change politics, you could change a lot. But again, it’s dangerous. I have to say, though, my only gripe, I mean—amongst, there’s other things, but—if anybody has seen Manny Pacquiao shoot a jump shot, that’s where, that’s where he lost me. Manny Pacquiao lost me, I think it was around the Floyd-Mayweather fight, I believe, where he casually went to a basketball court. And guys, I’ma just give this out, this PSA out to all guys out there. Girls, it doesn’t really matter, you know, women, if we want to try it, we can try it. But if you’re a guy and you go out there and you want to casually shoot around and your jump shot looks wild, don’t do it. I just, I would just say don’t do it. It ain’t for everybody, because that’s the only thing I think of every time I hear Manny Pacquiao’s name, I think of him on that court shooting those shots. And I’m scarred from it. So, I mean, I wish him the best on his retirement. Amazing career, like he said. He, I mean, his career, he’s one of the best. There’s no question, you know, 63, 8 2, 39 knockouts, he has it all! Like, you know, he has that career, but leave the basketballs alone. That’s all I’m going to say. As you retire, go into golf! Do what all the other athletes do. You got to leave the basketball alone. I’m sorry. I’m sorry, you gotta do it.


Jason Concepcion: He was I mean, Filipinos love basketball. It’s by far the most popular sport. It’s ironic because, you know, we’re a nation that is, let’s just say a bit lower in the average height range. So a—


Renee Montgomery: Just a little bit.


Jason Concepcion: It’s interesting because over there, culturally, wild layups are like the thing because everybody smaller, right? So, like artistic and like wild layups, we’re your just like, doing all sorts of stuff— like that is the height, that’s the height of like basketball artistry, of you have just like a crazy, like, signature layup.


Renee Montgomery: So Filipinos should be huge fans of the WNBA. I’m just now, now I’m about to get mad Jason. Because we specialize in wild layups. What are we talking about here?


Jason Concepcion: Right.


Jason Concepcion: That’s what we do. Have y’all ever heard of Angel McCoughtry? She does the most acrobatic lay-ups. Like what are we talking about here? Crazy.


[ad break]


Renee Montgomery: Takeline is officially getting the gold treatment, baby! That’s right. We have Olympic gold medalist in freestyle wrestling.


Jason Concepcion: Wooooo!


Renee Montgomery: Tamyra Mensah-Stock out here with us right now. You probably saw her from her viral and incredible post-match press conference a few weeks ago. Not to mention she’s a pioneer in the sports world, becoming the first Black female wrestler to capture gold in the Olympics. Tamyra Mensah-stock, welcome to Takeline.


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: Hi.


Jason Concepcion: Hello.


Renee Montgomery: OK, so wait. First things first. Where’s the gold medal? I thought that you guys had to wear it everywhere around. Like, if you don’t have it is fine. But if, I thought that you know the flax!


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: I do have it. It’s actually directly in front of me in my suitcase. I just came from WWE Summer Slam and so I took it to Summer Slam.


Renee Montgomery: That’s crazy.


Jason Concepcion: Do you just wear, do you ever just like wear it around the house? Do you ever just like, put it on?


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: No. It sits in its case.


Renee Montgomery: I’m glad you told us because I don’t wear championship rings ever. Just so people understand, that’s not really, like my championship rings, I’ve probably worn them probably twice. And that was like because I had to. They told me, wear them to this event. So she was actually telling the truth, I think, like, people don’t really wear their jewelry around, do they?


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: Not, not, nobody that I know. Unless I’m told to. Unless they’re like, hey, you really should, we highly recommend you bring them. I’m like yeah. Where is it!


Jason Concepcion: What is your what is your daily relationship with the medal, like, do you like just how do you engage with it? Do you look at it? Do you just sit and stare at it for a few minutes every day?


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: My daily relationship with the medal goes like this: it sits in its case, And I don’t remember where I put it.


Renee Montgomery: The real. This is—I like that!


Jason Concepcion: The real.


Renee Montgomery: That’s real, because I mean, when y’all see athletes parading around, then the media probably ask them to wear it. I mean, that’s just a real reality. Like, I don’t, I’m glad that you said it OK Tamyra. I’m glad that you said that.


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: I had to say it because I’m not one of those people. But at the same time, my husband did create a trophy room for me in our last house.


Renee Montgomery: OK, hubby.


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: It was regrettable! And then we moved and didn’t have room for a trophy room. And now I just look at all my trophies and accolades and I go, oh well, they’re just sitting in the garage right now.


Renee Montgomery: Oh, no. Well, listen, you struck gold twice, OK? But because you not only won the competition, but your interview went, it went viral. I was watching it live and honestly, I feel like I know you.


Jason Concepcion: It was amazing.


Renee Montgomery: I feel like I know you. I want to root for you. I’m cheering for you and the hubby and all of that. So what has the media attention been like? You know, post-Olympics.


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: Honestly, kind of like my everyday life, just a lot of talking. If I’m being honest. It’s just talking with people on my cell phone. And that’s pretty much what I do anyway. Just in person. It hasn’t really, I don’t know if it’s really like changed who I am, but it hasn’t struck me as anything new, it’s just something that I’m used to. I feel like I’ve been preparing for this since I was born because I’ve always been somebody who’s been extremely social. So it’s kind of right up my alley, honestly.


Renee Montgomery: You began your gold medal run with a total domination of the then gold medal winner. What did that feel like? And at that moment, do you feel like, oh, I’m on a run right now, I’m about to start something?


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: I honestly felt bad because I did not, I did not mean to do her like that. But I had a goal and when I was done, I was like that just finished that fast? Did I really just do that? I’m so sorry. I felt bad. There was no like, oh, I got this and like, on to the next match.


Renee Montgomery: That’s interesting though, I mean that I, because usually you get to that stage and you know, you talk to athletes and they want to dominate, they want that. But you got there and when you did dominate, you felt bad. But, you know, you said something earlier that you’re social in that, you know, you had that personality type and you’re from a small town in Texas and I’m from a pretty small town in West Virginia, so for those who don’t know. But how does a young Black woman first get into wrestling in such a small town? Because I think that has to do with why you don’t feel great dominating because small town vibes is everybody’s friendly, everybody’s enjoying each other. So you don’t seem like you are loving the domination. Even when he, when Jason said you dominated, you kind of cringed. I watched you. You like, you were like, oh, did sa I dominated her? It was like you didn’t even enjoy it.


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: OK, ok. I will say. It’s great dominating my opponents, right, because I like to like enforce my will on people. But at the same time it’s scary when I do it, it’s like an out of body experience. I feel like God is just like, all right! A force of nature, and I’m like, whoa! Was it really like that? And I so I grew up in the Houston area. And, you know, Houston is pretty big, and then we moved to Katy, which was a small town, and I felt like that was definitely more my vibe because like I felt like I knew so many people at my school. But get this, Renee, my graduating class had over 800. So not entirely small town.


Renee Montgomery: OK. No, that’s not a small town.  You can’t come with the small town vibes anymore for me then, because I’m from the country country ok.


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: Yeah. Yeah. I was like, mmmm, uh, like small town-city maybe.


Renee Montgomery: So obviously 2020 has been challenging for everyone and I would imagine as an Olympic-level athlete, it has been challenging. Could you, take us through your daily routine training, et cetera. How did you how did you manage to get up for this.


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: Are you talking about in 2020 when we weren’t allowed to do anything?


Renee Montgomery: Yes, yes. How did you stay fit? How do you stay in the, how’d you stay in it?


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: How did I stay fit? I got to be honest, I, I gained a lot of weight. So in terms of— [laughter]


Renee Montgomery: Oh my g—! [laughs]


Jason Concepcion: I love it!  [laughs]


Renee Montgomery: I love this!


Jason Concepcion: I love it.


Renee Montgomery: Give us the real!


Jason Concepcion: I love it. Please.


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: In terms of kilos, my weight class is 68 kilos and I already walk around like 71 kilos, but during the pandemic I got up to 82 kilos, and I’ll just leave people to do the math in that. And I still look good!


Renee Montgomery: Oh, no you look great! Don’t let them tell you nothing now! I was saying wow, because that’s a different of classes.


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: Yeah. There’s no class for that! There is no class for where, where I reached there was no class. But at the same time, even though I reached that like, get this, even though I reached that level, I still worked out every other day. Like me and my husband, we were doing yoga together. I was doing Zoom classes with kids all around the country where I, like, guided them and Zumba, yoga, and weightlifting. So I was, I was being active. So it was a, you know, it was a healthy, healthy weight that I was at. Like I wasn’t just doing nothing, but I was having fun. I wasn’t caring about my weight at all because I didn’t know when we were going to wrestle. I knew we were going to wrestle, just didn’t know when. So I stayed active and I had fun. Like me and my husband would, like, go on a run every now and then. But we were also traveling, like I went to see my family five times. I usually only see them once a year. So the fact that I got to see them for birthdays, graduations and holiday?! I was like, eh! Much needed a break.


Renee Montgomery: Oh, girl. No, no one’s complaining. That’s happy weight. I kind of did the opposite. So I when I stopped doing all my intense working out, I actually got skinny. So everybody that sees me now, they’re like, Oh girl, you skinny, are you OK? And I’m like, I’m fine, I’m just happy, I’m just not drinking shakes and everything. But you talked about that you were working with younger kids and you were doing Zooms, and it made me think about something because there’s only two, I believe, Division 1 women’s wrestling programs, and so what do you think it would take to help grow the sport and get more programs at the D1 level? Because two, just, like it feels like that has to be a typo. But two D1 women’s wrestling programs?


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: I didn’t even know it was two, I thought it was one. I’m like, oh shit, we moved up.


Renee Montgomery: We got to two!


Jason Concepcion: Listen, you got another one!


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: That’s awesome. That is good to hear. So I honestly don’t know what it would take but I feel like, so one of my dreams is to be a D1 women’s college coach, and I’m trying to build my resume. I’m trying to build my legacy. That way when I go to a place like Texas Tech or Texas A&M, wherever, and I tell them, hey, I would like to start a program—it would be extremely hard for them to deny me. So in terms of that, I feel like I just want to go up to programs so that they don’t deny me, but I honestly don’t know what it will take. I just honestly, maybe more people like me just bringing awareness to the fact that, hey, there’s wrestlers out there and we need a place to wrestle. These females, there’s D1 schools all over the nation that have men wrestling—all they have to do is allow women to use the women’s locker room and then we can have the program, because they already have masks and everything.


Renee Montgomery: It’s that simple.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah. That’s, that’s all it is.


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: That’s my opinion.


Renee Montgomery: No, your opinion is valid. And we talk about NCAA, I mean, and we talk about Title 9, I mean, it’s a valid thing to think that if there’s already a program there and it’s just a locker room thing, I would have to believe that we will see you being a Division 1 coach in the near future when you’re ready! I would have to believe that that’s the truth. Like that will happen. I’m speaking it.


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: I’m speaking it too.


Jason Concepcion: I’m just so intrigued by your, your journey, and one of the things that I’m super interested in is like how did—what are you looking at? Is there something, which one of our backgrounds?


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: I was looking at yours Jason, seeing what comics you had, if there was any anime in there.


Jason Concepcion: No anime. I’m just beginning my anime journey. My like, my gateway drug was Avatar, The Last Airbender. That’s what’s, that’s what—


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: That’s not an anime? [laughs] That was made in America?  But I can see it.


Jason Concepcion: I know. But I’m talking about the style. And so that’s what’s getting me into it. And then, you know, like I watched Akira and like, I never pursued it.


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: Hey, I haven’t even watched Akira, so you’ve already got one on me.


Jason Concepcion: How did you get, like what was it about wrestling that that drew you in?


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: The aggressiveness of it. But that’s also what drew me out, too, because I did not appreciate the fact that people were so mean—not mean, but just aggressive, when it, when it came to practice. And I didn’t appreciate how people were putting their sweat on me. I felt like I had saliva on me as well. And it was just so touchy feely! I just—I know, did you see how you said ‘ew’?! Imagine somebody in track and field who wore hoops, did their makeup before practice all the time, and the only contact that they would really have with their teammates is passing the baton. So maybe like a finger touch. And a hug of course! It went from that to wrestling. And I wanted to quit. I wanted to quit within, like, the first day, the first month. But my twin had told me to hang in there because she was the reason why I actually joined the sport. She started initially. And after my first match at a dual meet at my school at Morton Ranch, I pinned the girl, dang near as quick as we had started. And I was like, I could get used to this, that was actually kind of fun. [laughter] It’s kind of weird, like I’m nice, but then I know how to turn that switch on to be mean. And I like that I can turn that switch on, and turn it off immediately because I don’t want to be like that all the time.


Renee Montgomery: Of course. I mean, that’s basically you just described being an athlete. You know, like some athletes are that person, their ego, that they are on the court. But a lot of athletes, yeah, you turn on this persona because you need to be that. Now, I have to, one of the biggest storylines of the Olympics was your love of karaoke. I love karaoke, so we’re going to ask you to do a first on Takeline. I hear you clearing the throat! Yeah, get ready, baby! It’s going to be time to sing some karaoke. We’re going to queue up some Evanescence. I heard that that’s your jam. And we’re going to introduce your voice to the world. Are you ready?


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: Oh, don’t I get a warm up song?


Renee Montgomery: OK, well, you better want to: fa la la la la. Like what you need to warm up?


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: Fa la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la.


Renee Montgomery: Now playing “Bring Me to Life” by the gold medalist, the first ever, Tamyra baby! Bring us to life!


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: [sings Bring Me to Life]


Tamyra and Renee sing:  “Wake me up inside. Wake me up inside. Call my name and save me from the dark.”


Jason Concepcion: “Wake me up.”


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: [all three continue singing the song]


Renee Montgomery: Yes! Oh, my gosh. That’s not, like for that to be your karaoke song, like, that’s not an easy karaoke song.


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: It’s not! That’s why I need a warm up!


Jason Concepcion: Oh, that was so good. Well, Tamyra, thanks so much for singing with us, for joining us, for joining Takeline. Best of luck at the World Championships in Oslo. Thank you so much.


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: Thank you guys for having me. I greatly appreciate it. That was super fun. I love when I get to sing!


Jason Concepcion: Yes!


Tamyra Mensah-Stock: I freaking loved that.


[ad break]


Renee Montgomery: Jason, on this show, we’ve made it a point to talk about highlighting underrepresented voices in sports, and one of those in those sports world is Black WNBA players, you know, representing that voice. What does that look like? Last year Risa Isard, who is a researcher at UMass, found some stunning results when she and her team looked into how black WNBA players versus white WNBA players are promoted in the media. She’s joining us now. Risa, welcome.


Risa Isard: Hi. Welcome. Thanks so much for having me.


Renee Montgomery: No, thank you for coming here. So tell me about your study and what prompted you to even take on this project?


Risa Isard: Yeah, it’s a great question. And so admittedly, right, I kind of came to this research question last summer as our nation was in the midst of a racial reckoning. And I was scrolling through Twitter—as we all do in the midst of pandemics and racial reckonings, I guess—and I came across this tweet from an account I don’t actually even think I followed, I think the Twitter algorithm just served it up to me by Michael McManis. And he had started reflecting on what he was seeing as a pattern of who the media was centering and really especially right in this moment of reckoning, and started having these observations. And he had this, like, awesome thread and I just read it. And I thought particularly as a white person, like as a white WNBA fan, this isn’t something that admittedly I had known that much about, had seen happening on my own. And I read it and I digested it. And I went throughout the rest of the summer and I started asking myself, do I see this now? Right? Now that I’ve learned this, now that someone has brought this to my observation, can I see this happening? And it was pretty apparent that this is what was going on. It could not have been more apparent when my advisor at UMass sent me an email with an article that was talking about sponsorships in the WNBA and some other things. And somewhere in the fifth paragraph or whatever, just hidden, was this line that was talking about how the WNBA was having its most successful season yet thanks to . . . and then it listed like three white players. And I was like, that, that’s just like kind of curious, right, now that I have this in the back of my head, that this is what’s happening throughout. And so I just shared this reflection: hey, I’ve been thinking about this, here’s you know, I learned about it from this person I read on Twitter, right, what do you think? And so that really kick started this research to say, can we quantify, can we empirically, kind of scientifically, without a doubt, say that that’s what’s happening? And then what, you know, how did that influence maybe some of these other identities that players have? And really, what is the role of race in this disparity?


Jason Concepcion: Yeah. Tell us a little bit about your methodology and the data and what it tells you.


Risa Isard: Absolutely. And so as a team, we had to decide, right, kind of where are we looking for this, how are we looking at it? And so ultimately, we landed on looking at online content from ESPN, CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated, really notably ESPN and CBS Sports were the official network partners of the WNBA during the last 2020 season. So they made a lot of sense, right? Sports Illustrated, another kind of mainstream, longtime media outlet. So if you’re looking at like what are these kind of typical dominant platforms saying, right. that’s kind of some of the places that you look. And also, importantly, all three of those platforms, their WNBA content is not behind paywall. So it’s all publicly accessible, right? Like if you just Google what’s going on, right, you’re likely to find content from one of those sites. And so we narrowed down to looking at those platforms. And then, you know, this research started because we were really interested in what was happening at a racial level. And we also know from being researchers who study diversity and equity and inclusion in sports that gender expression matters, sexual orientation matters, right, like there’s some of these other identities and they don’t just matter on their own, but they also matter, right, in combination with each other, what we as researchers would call intersectionality. And so that’s what we try to look at. We were able to measure race on a spectrum. We had a panel of experts who were able to kind of verify our coding, right, saying this is what this player’s race is that they’re presenting as, that we read them as, which is how the world reads them too, so we could identify then who presents as white and who presents as Black. We are also able to code their gender expression and kind of, you know, are they publicly out as queer or are they not out? Which is also, from a media perspective, the same thing as kind of being straight. So we ended up finding that across all players in the WNBA, in 2020 Black WNBA players received far less, about half as much coverage compared to their white teammates. For Black players who had a more masculine gender expression, coverage was even lower. Meanwhile, white players who had more masculine gender expressions actually received the most coverage of any players.


Renee Montgomery: So it’s interesting because there’s so many different factors in intersectionality is where the WNBA lives, and so I’m glad you brought that up. And one of the standout findings that you have was about A’ja Wilson. And for those that need a reminder—you shouldn’t!—but she’s our reigning WNBA MVP, she’s a three-time All-Star, former NCAA champion. She has a statue outside of South Carolina! Like just to let people understand how big she is in women’s sports. But I’m curious, how much media attention did she receive? Because I see A’ja on a lot of different things. But I’m just curious, where does she, like, meet when you’re talking about a deep dive research? Because she’s one of those names that should be all over everything, considering the things I just said. So I’m really curious to hear this.


Risa Isard: Well, we were really surprised that she received half as much media coverage as Sabrina Ionescu, right. And so, Renee, on top of all the stats, all the accomplishments that you just listed, right, A’ja Wilson played the entire WNBA season last year, all the way through all the finals, right, all the way to leading her team to the championship game. Sabrina Ionescu played in three games before having a season-ending injury. And so receiving half the amount of coverage, I think is just not at all what you’d expect, and it’s certainly not what the MVP deserves.


Renee Montgomery: And just the kind of, this is not about Sabrina, just so people, you know, I want to lay things out so that people can understand, this deep dive is not about one particular player. It’s not about A’ja. You know, it’s not about Sabrina. It’s about the media and how the media sends a message without sending a message so I just wanted to kind of lay that out so people understand this isn’t a her-versus-her. This is a we have stars in the league in A’ja Wilson, who I, like, I didn’t know that she only received half, but for her to be the reigning MVP, three-time All-Star, she, I mean, even recently she was a huge part of our Team USA like run. So, I mean, that’s pretty shocking to hear for me.


Risa Isard: Yeah, I would agree. And I appreciate you pointing this out. This isn’t like a personal thing, right? This person versus that person, right. That’s not how race works in this country, right, these are about systems and these are about layers and it is about narratives. And it’s about kind of where do we see general trends reflected, perhaps easily captured in one place. But this was a trend that took place across every player that played in the league last year.


Jason Concepcion: Whenever studies like this are announced on social media, there’s always some amount of the response is always, well of course. Like, you know, this comports with I think our general reading of how the world works, specifically American society is this very white male-centered society. What are, you mentioned the layers and the structural underpinnings of this? Like what are the system of incentives and disincentives that caused this to occur?


Risa Isard: Yeah, it’s a huge question. I mean, I think one thing to point out right, is certainly on social media, people might say, well, isn’t this just about who the good players are or something, right? And so what’s really important is that our analysis actually controlled four points and rebounds, right? We we accounted for on-court production. And even when you hold those things equal, you see a massive, like, gap between the media coverage that white players are getting and that Black players are getting. And so, you know, I think what that represents is the just white centering right, of our whole world, even in sports. And it’s super important because the way that, you know, media attention gets played into other things like sponsorships and endorsement deals, and it becomes, I think maybe what you’re getting at right, is like it becomes a pay equity issue to right, this media attention transcends—it’s not just about whose name gets said, it becomes part of all these other equations and feeds into systems.


Jason Concepcion: The thing that I keep thinking is like if I am like a low0level person in the PR department for the WNBA, right, and I have like certain accounts that I’m working on and based on the success of those accounts, like I will either continue my job or be fired, I am incentivized to go to row in the direction that the boat is heading, right? How do we disentangle those things so that there is a more equitable covering of players in the W that more accurately reflects their accomplishments and success within the league, while also like somehow incentivizing this, on like the granular level, like the people who are directly engaged in like this actual coverage?


Risa Isard: Yeah, I mean, I think right, in your example of the WNBA, you know, employee or whatever, one of the things that’s actually really interesting is that we also measured what was happening in WNBA press releases and there was no racial bias to speak of in that coverage, right? So the press releases that the league is putting out is basically race neutral as much as, you know, anything is race neutral—I maybe hesitate to say those words—but, you know, in fact, the only thing that determines who got mentions in the WNBA press releases where offensive players, the more points you scored, the more media mentions you got. Maybe defensive players want to pick a bone with the league on that. That’s cool. But, you know, but I think it goes to show that this doesn’t have to be the way that it is. Like if we report coverage based on what’s actually happening on the court, we can have more racially equitable coverage.


Jason Concepcion: She’s a research fellow with the Laboratory for Inclusion and Diversity at UMass’s Eisenberg School of Management. You can read more about her team’s findings in the Sports Business Journal. Risa, thank you so much for joining us.


Renee Montgomery: Yes.


Risa Isard: Thanks so much.




Renee Montgomery: All right, all right, all right, you know what that sound means. Come on, don’t act like this is your first week. It’s time for a Buzzer Beaters baby, where we talk stories we didn’t cover in the show because of time. So I’ma get this party started. And for my Buzzer Beater, I interviewed the incredible playwright Antoinette Nwandu. Her play, Pass Over, is on Broadway right now, August Wilson Theater. Check it out. We’re going to play a little snippet here, but look out for the full interview later this week.




Renee Montgomery: You said people from Nigeria and around the country have reached out to you about this play. What is it about the Black experience that’s so universal?


Antoinette Nwandu: I’m going to do you one better, because I believe that this play tells the story through the lens of the Black experience, but it is for everyone. I’m telling you, Renee, in my DMs, young people from—I don’t remember the name of the university—I think it was Ibadan University in Nigeria saying: this is us.


Renee Montgomery: Wow.


Antoinette Nwandu: And they’re all Black. So some of, they’re saying some of them are the mister’s and some of them are like Moses and Kitsch. Wasn’t no white people in [unclear], so I’m like, OK, that’s deep. Now, 2017 when did this play at Steppenwolf, an older gentleman who saw the title of the play, he was Jewish, he thought the play was about Jewish people. This man was in his 90s. He showed up to watch the play, but he was like, it took me so much effort to get here, I’m old, I might as well just stay and watch it, even though it’s not what I thought it was about.


Renee Montgomery: Right.


Antoinette Nwandu: This man called me up afterwards. He told me that he is alive today. This was back in 2017. He said he was alive because when he was a child, his family escaped the Holocaust.


Renee Montgomery: Wow.


Antoinette Nwandu: And he looked at me and he said, you told my story. He said, Moses and Kitch—that’s me. He said the word ghetto is a Yiddish word, ghettos were created in the Holocaust because it was about we need to round these people up and put them somewhere where they don’t bother us. And that’s where Moses and Kitsch are, they’re in a place where you put them somewhere and they can’t bother us. So when I say this is a human story, the people who are low say we’re not going to be low no more. And who are the characters that I’m using to tell this human story? [laughs] Black people!


Renee Montgomery: Hah! I love you, Antoinette! Oh, my God!


Antoinette Nwandu: I love you, Renee! Listen, spirit first!


[end interview]


Jason Concepcion: My Buzzer Beater is going to be contact tracing. Here in California, the state is allowed to use your phone if you opt into the program, to use Bluetooth to tell you if you have been around someone who is then tested positive for COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. And I regret to inform you that I have been exposed. The contact tracing program told me that I was exposed on Monday at the, likely at the Shang-Chi premiere where I attended in shorts and slides.


Renee Montgomery: You looked great!


Jason Concepcion: If you want to hear more, if you want to hear more about that story, please subscribe to the X-Ray Vision podcast dropping soon. I tell the whole story in the first episode. But I’ve been in this room, this office, since Friday. I go out, like I go out, but I wear my mask when I go out to the rest of the house. And I just feel tremendously fortunate that one, I feel fine. Again, it was like last Monday, and so, one test has been negative, I’m waiting the second test. And two, just the fact that I’m able to do my, like I am, feel very fortunate that I am in the position where I can just do my job from here. Yes, it sucks to like sleep on a cot in my very own office, but I feel very fortunate to be able to continue to do my work. And please everyone, if you have not yet received your vaccination, go get vaccinated.


Renee Montgomery: Well, I have a question, though, Jason. What’s X-Ray Vision about? Like just, like just if you could give me a little—


Jason Concepcion: X-Ray Vision is a podcast about nerd culture and all the kind of stories and things, whether it be TV shows, comic books, movies, that go on in nerd culture. We’re going to be talking about the Disney+ shows as Disney and Marvel kind of make their transition into Phase 4. Episode two, we’re going to be talking about Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. We’re going to be talking about Y: the Last Man. We’re going to be talking about a lot of stuff of that ilk. We have guests and stuff. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.


Renee Montgomery: My son is going to be subscribing, I can already tell from everything you just said. Shouts to my son, Junior. I know he’ll be listening to X-Ray Vision for sure.


Jason Concepcion: Tell him Shang-Chi was great. Go see it


Renee Montgomery: Done.


Jason Concepcion: That’s it for us. Follow us and subscribe to us on Apple podcast or wherever you get your podcasts. And don’t forget to subscribe to Takeline Show on YouTube for exclusive video clips from this episode and new original video content, plus my digital series, All Caps NBA, which airs every Friday—we’re in hiatus right now, but still check it out. Folks! See you next week.


Renee Montgomery: Let’s go!


Jason Concepcion: Whoo!


Jason Concepcion: Takeline is a Crooked Media production. The show is produced by Carleton Gillespie and Zuri Irvin. Our executive producers are myself and Sandy Girard. Our contributing producers are Caroline Reston, Elija Cone and Jason Gallagher. Engineering, editing and sound design by Sarah Gibble-Laska and the folks at Chapter Four, and our theme music is produced by Brian Vásquez.