In This Episode
This week on Takeline, co-founder of StockX, Josh Luber, joins to talk about the future of sneaker and trading card culture as well as the rise in popularity of NFTs (35:18). Jason and Renee give their predictions on the upcoming Knicks vs. Hawks playoff series (00:58), and discuss the class of 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement (24:47). Plus, Renee gives us exclusive insight into her first WNBA game as owner of the Atlanta Dream (30:30) and we debut our new online auction inspired game, Sticker Shock (1:00:41)!
Don’t forget to smash the subscribe button at http://youtube.com/takelineshow for exclusive video clips and to watch ALL CAPS NBA. New episodes every Friday!
Jason Concepcion: It’s still mind boggling to consider that he is not around, like it’s still shocking.
Renee Montgomery: Yeah, but you know what? That class of 2020, just how they all embraced that moment—it was, it was one for the ages.
Jason Concepcion: The WNBA season opens, and the NBA playoffs begin. The play-in games start this week. And the big headline: it’s My Knicks versus Renee’s Hawk’s. Plus StockX founder and former CEO, Josh Luber, joins us. And our new game Sticker Shock debuts. It’s Takeline right now. I’m Jason Concepcion.
Renee Montgomery: I’m Renee Montgomery. Let’s go!
Jason Concepcion: We didn’t want it to happen, but it has happened. The NBA playoffs are set to start. The play-in games will start this week. We’ll talk about that in a second. But first, we got to talk about the thing that has happened that we were hoping would not happen, it’s Knicks-Hawks in the playoffs.
Renee Montgomery: Nooooooooo.
Jason Concepcion: Renee, we got to talk about it. We have to talk about it now. What do you, man. First of all, you know, as a Knicks fan, I’m incredibly excited. The fact that we have home court, it’s been eight years since we’ve been in the playoffs. The fact that it’s against the Hawks is bittersweet. But it’s going to be really fun. I’m looking forward to it. What are your thoughts about this match up? I won’t ask you your prediction, but what do you think the takeaways from this matchup are going to be?
Renee Montgomery: Well, I mean, it’s interesting that it’s the Hawks versus the Knicks because we’re so similar in so many ways. I think that’s kind of, as we were watching week to week, it was like: oh, how are y’all doing? Y’all are still doing good. We are too—and then for it to fall number four versus five in the playoffs to match up, it is bittersweet because I didn’t want to meet you guys yet because we didn’t want to beat you guys yet. OK, we wanted that for . . . [laughs]
Jason Concepcion: Yeah.
Renee Montgomery: We wanted that for the second round! But no, for me I think a big part of it is going to be the home games. I mean, the Hawks have won 11 consecutive home games. We’re playing well at home, but for us, getting healthy. So I think that, you know, a lot of people, if you’re looking at what happened in the regular season, I think that you should not count that because we got swept by the Knicks. I know we got swept. But even as a team like when I was a player, if a team swept us, or if I was the team that swept somebody, I was scared going into the playoffs because do you know how hard it is to beat a team seven times? Like, that’s that’s really hard. And so the Knicks have already beat us three times. And it’s just in sports for whatever reason, the more you play somebody, the more familiar you get. So I don’t know. I just think that it’s going to come down to shot-making. I mean, the Knicks have been crazy hot, and when, the Hawks are hot. It’s going to be a shoot out. Like, I just I’m excited. Like, while it’s bittersweet, I’m so excited.
Jason Concepcion: I, so you mentioned the Knicks have beaten the Hawks three times this season. I will say as a caveat, couple of things about that number. First of all, first two wins took place before the switchover Nate McMillan, to Nate McMillan ais the coach coming over from Indiana. After Nate McMillan, the Hawks went 27-11. They were floundering in the east before that. So different team than those first two wins. The third win, you know, Trey tweaked his ankle in the middle of the game, so there’s other factors about those wins. That said Julius Randle has absolutely eaten against the Hawks this season.
Renee Montgomery: Yep.
Jason Concepcion: He’s been massive. I think it will come down to the bench. You know, the Hawks offensively are just unbelievable when they’re, when they’re going. Trey is magnificent, both as a shot creator, a shot maker, and a playmaker. Bogdanovic has been, he’s having like the greatest year of his career. He has been so important to that team as a secondary ball handler, as the guy who keeps them running. When Trey is on the bench, that’s really where they make a lot of their hay. They very quietly kill you with those bench lineups. And so it’s going to be about can the Knicks defense slow those guys enough? Gallinari is hitting like 46% of their threes. Can we slow them enough and can the Knicks score enough? You mentioned the Knicks offense, the Knicks net ratings since March, they’ve been like the number three or four team in the league.
Renee Montgomery: Unbelievable.
Jason Concepcion: And they’ve been really good offensively because of the emergence of Derrick Rose and of and of Reggie Bullock. Just catching fire. I don’t know how much to depend on those things going into the playoffs.
Renee Montgomery: You have to! That’s how you got there.
Jason Concepcion: That’s how we got there. But if but if Reggie and Derrick continue to play like that, I like our chances. And then it becomes a question of can we slow Trey enough? Can we slow Bogdanovich enough?
Renee Montgomery: Yeah. And to that point, you guys are third in three-point shooting at 39%. And like, you know Julius Randle, you talked about, he’s been a monster against us. There’s no denying it. He’s making threes. I think a lot of people before this season, you know, when you look at Julius Randle you can tell that he is just a great player, and you could tell that his potential, his ceiling is so high. But when he came into this season this year and was making three pointers at the clip, he’s making it—like he’s not even just making like the trail three where you just stand there and you’re wide open.
Jason Concepcion: He’s getting it. He’s doing it in people’s faces.
Renee Montgomery: I mean against us, he made seven! I think he made seven threes against us. I’m like, OK, what?! Like you expect him to play bully ball, get to the paint, like, just get you out the way, get in the weight room type of moves. He’s doing threes fading away from the corner. This is a Julius Randle that pretty much, he’s unstoppable, if he shoots like that he’s pretty much unstoppable.
Jason Concepcion: Yeah. So here’s his year by year three-point percentage: 2015 basically he was injured. 2016, 28%. 2017, 27%. 2018, 22%. 2019, 34%. 2020, 28%. Now he’s shooting 41%.
Renee Montgomery: Ok. Just so people can understand,
Jason Concepcion: I mean that’s a leap, that really doesn’t happen at age 26. But it, and I to be honest with you, you know as the season was progressing I’m like: OK, he’s hot, ok, you know, he’s in it, he’s just in a groove, we’ll see what happens. He’s taken so many threes that I think it’s real at this point. You know, like, you mention the set of threes against—
Renee Montgomery: No, I mean, we have to believe it. No, no, no.
Jason Concepcion: —and people. Yeah, he’s hitting them, like high degree of difficulty, like against double teams now.
Renee Montgomery: And I want to say something because, yes, we have to believe it. Like, that’s, that’s a part of players developing their game. A lot of people wanted a player like Blake Griffin to do that exact thing where you’re already so athletic, can you add that shooting to your game? We have to believe it. And here’s another thing. Everyone that talks about him says he’s one of the hardest workers on the team, like he’s in the gym, he’s getting shots up. So I believe it just for the fact that he worked hard to get there. That doesn’t happen. Like, you don’t make a jump from 20% to 40%.
Jason Concepcion: Yeah, that’s crazy.
Renee Montgomery: Without putting some crazy number hours in the gym. So kudos to him. Most improved player.
Jason Concepcion: And the backcourt is going to be a real, real question mark because the Knicks start Elfrid Payton, who I think is probably at his worst stretch of the season over the last few weeks, and whoever is going to be that starting point guard is going to have to match up with Trae Young, who is like lighting it up basically from everywhere. Uh, only shooting 34% from three, but like the volume at which he shoots, it’s like Harden. He’s just going to end up crushing you because of the amount he shoots, and then he’s shooting 89% from the line and he’s killing you from the mid-range.
Renee Montgomery: And you have to remember—so I just read something that Chris Paul he was like, five shots away from being a part of the 40, 50, 90 club.
Jason Concepcion: Yeah.
Renee Montgomery: And when they broke it down, the point guards and this—I used to say this all the time—it’s tough for point guards because we’re the ones at the end of the shot clock that typically have to heave. Like we’re doing those last second heave. We’re doing those half court heave. We’re doing those “get the ball and your point guard’s hand at the end of the possession and make something happen”. So when you look at percentages and different players with point guards, you always have to put a little asterisk there, because they’re the ones have to take a lot of bad shots.
Jason Concepcion: That’s a great point because look at the people around Trae. Gallinari I mentioned 46%, Bogdanovic 45.5%, Collins 40%
Renee Montgomery: Tony Snell is a part of the 50-50-100 club! 50-50-100!
Jason Concepcion: I mean, Williams, 44%. Knicks, one of the one of the storylines of the season has been the Knicks outperforming their opponents three point percentage. Their defense is going to be really be tested against all the shooters the Hawks have, because that is a ton of shooters. We have Reggie Bullock, we have Alec Burks, RJ Barrett has been has been really shooting it well in stretches. But the guys you have are just like lights-out shooters. So that’s going to be real tax.
Renee Montgomery: But, but our health has been a concern all season long. The exciting part is that we had a lot of players that were just straight up out and not available. Now we have a lot of players that are day-to-day, which like, you know, Red Velvet, Kevin Huerter, Gallo, Kris Dunn—Kris Dunn is day-to-day. Clint Capela. Bogi is day-to-day. So, and the scariest thing about our team is we actually haven’t played at full strength at all, all season. Like we just haven’t had it. Like if we get two players back: oh no, here goes another two that’s out. And so I think it’s exciting for us as a team because we haven’t had that. But it’s also scary because if somebody’s day-to-day, you could easily not have them available for a game.
Jason Concepcion: Yeah. And then De’Andre Hunter is coming back and it’s like, congratulations, you’re healthy. Now you have to check Julius Randle. You have to figure out what to do about that.
Renee Montgomery: Julis Randle!
Jason Concepcion: I hesitate to ask. I know what you going to say. I don’t take it personally. You have a prediction for us.
Renee Montgomery: I do. I think, I mean this is not a bold prediction. I just think Hawks in seven. I think that we’re going to battle it out. I don’t think that either team is better enough than the other team to—
Jason Concepcion: It’s going to be, it’s going to be a battle like that.
Renee Montgomery: Yeah. I just think every game is going to be exciting. I don’t know what happens. Like what if Julius Randle goes for fifty, a fifty piece nugget one game. Well then you might win that. But what if Trey Young goes for fifty the next week. So I’m excited to see like what is going to happen, but I don’t think anything crazy. Hawks in seven. What about you? What you thinking?
Jason Concepcion: Listen, I think it’s also going to be a seven-game series. You know, the thing that I’m excited for and again, it’s been such a long time since the Knicks have been in the playoffs—the thing that I’m that I’m interested to see is how experience will play into that. The Knicks are somewhat more experienced in the Hawks, but both of these teams are relative newcomers to playoff intensity. And with playoff intensity, there’s always that X-Factor player who, when the opposing team takes the first option away and then takes the second option away, shows up and gives you 15, 16 18 points, out of nowhere. Who’s that going to be for both teams?
Renee Montgomery: One hundred percent, that’s what wins championships. You know, on the NBA on TNT, they got a bad rap for it like eight years ago when they started to call them The Others. Right? And so it’s like your superstars that, you know, were going to get X amount of points, X amount of rebounds. What are the others going to do? Well, I’ve been a part of the others before in Minnesota where we won two of my championships. I don’t take offense to that. It was lit where everyone was scouting for Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles and Maya Moore. And then here comes our bench mob and we’re like doing numbers. I think that’s lit. And you’re absolutely right. That’s what it’s going to come down to.
Jason Concepcion: Let me just first say Knick’s in seven. I think that home court will play a, play a crucial role. You mentioned the Hawks have been really have put up a fortress in Atlanta. I think the four games at Madison Square Garden will play a role.
Renee Montgomery: OK. That’s, that’s very valid. All right. So let me ask you about some of these, these play-in games that happening.
Jason Concepcion: I’m excited. I can’t wait for the play-in games. I’m so excited.
Renee Montgomery: Me too! It’s like, get your pop-corn baby! Al right!
Jason Concepcion: I can’t wait.
Renee Montgomery: Number 8, Wizards at number 7 Celtics. May 18th, 9 pm. Who do you have?
Jason Concepcion: I have not been this excited for, to root for a Wizard since like Harry Potter v. Draco Malfoy. The Wizards, it’s been an incredible turnaround story for them, health obviously played a huge role. They were devastated by COVID. Russell Westbrook had it, was suffering the symptoms from it. He also had the torn quad. Played his way back into health. And all of a sudden here he is again, averaging a triple-double, breaking the record for triple-double set by Oscar Robertson.
Renee Montgomery: Crazy. 182 to be exact. So people know, well he’s past that now. He got one last night.
Jason Concepcion: Then you have the, and then you have the Celtics, who are really one of the disappointments of the season. I love to see it. I love the fact that it is a Celtics loss that clinched the playoffs for the Knicks. Oh, man. I am really rooting for the Wizards in this because for various reasons. I love Beal, obviously the status of his hamstring is a huge question mark. He was in and out of the Wizards final game. Played, he started but then had to be pulled and then ended up playing, but you could see him favoring it. Is he going to be healthy and good to go on Tuesday? And then of course the Celtics, no Jaylen Brown. The myriad issues that they’ve had, I’m rooting for the Wizards. I’d love to see them do it. It’d be great story for them, although I know many of my Wizards fans hope that that doesn’t save Scott Brooks his job. What do you what do you think about this? Do you have any, do you have any predictions for this matchup?
Renee Montgomery: Well, you know, so my partners in crime and my partners in business, Northland, they’re like Celtics fans. So shouts to Suzanne Abair and Larry G, they’re the people that I went in with, they’re the other owners of the Atlanta Dream. They’re like Celtics fans. So I feel kind of bad saying that I think the Wizards are gonna win. And the reason that I say that is the Celtics like it’s how you are playing. And I just feel like the Celtics are just not playing good basketball
Jason Concepcion: Zero momentum. Right.
Renee Montgomery: No momentum.
Jason Concepcion: Bad team.
Renee Montgomery: Yeah, it just they have no momentum. And then when you get the blow of one of your best players getting hurt, that just sucks the life out of you. Meanwhile, on the Wizards side, like you said, Russell Westbrook is getting awards for breaking historic records. So that adds to their momentum. So, yeah, I got to just I would just say it’s the Wizards, even though I’m sorry, Larry is Suzanne, the Celtics just aren’t looking good. Maybe next time. What are you thinking about? Number 10 Hornets at number 9 Pacers. That’s also happening May 18th, 6:30 PM Eastern Time on TNT. What are your thoughts on that?
Jason Concepcion: Wow, this is going to be, so this is going to be fun. Of course, the 10-9 is single elimination. Whoever loses this is out. I’m going for the Hornets. There’s just a lot of bad vibes around the Pacers in the, in the back half of the season—feuding with, with coach Nate Bjorkman, you know, strange lineups, guys seeming out of sorts. And I just think that Terry Rozier has been one of the hottest players in the NBA. I’m going with the Hornets. I’m going with the Hornets in this match up. What about you?
Renee Montgomery: I really wanted to go opposite of what you were saying, but these are kind of like ones where if you’re watching the NBA, there are certain picks that you’re just going to make. Even the Hornets, where they got LaMelo Ball back, and he came back and was throwing the most ridiculous passes as if he was never out. And I’m telling you stuff like that, plays like that, highlight reels like that, that gives so much to a team. And so that team has so much life and energy. Scary Terry, as you talked about, he’s killing it. And, you know, he was one of those players that I believe was killing it before he got to the Hornets. And now he’s continuing that play. So, yeah, it looks like, it looks like the Hornets would have it just because, again, momentum: none for the Pacers. Now on the Western Conference that we have number 8. This is the one right here!
Jason Concepcion: This is huge. This is huge.
Renee Montgomery: This is a one number Eight Warriors at number 7 Lakers. It’s happening on May 19, 10 p.m. on ESPN. Who do you have on this one?
Jason Concepcion: I think the Lakers should romp in this if they’re healthy. LeBron plus AD, they were the best defense in the league for much of the season. I think that should hold. There’s a world in which you could argue that the time without those two players actually solidified the chemistry of that group without the stars. Like Kuzma has really blossomed in this time. I think the Lakers should win and win by like double digits. That said, do not wake up Steph Curry. Do not make that man mad. Like whatever, I think it was very smart that LeBron came out and said Steph Curry is our MVP the other night.
Renee Montgomery: Yeah, don’t poke a bear! Got to like, pat the ego. I’m not, I mean, I don’t think they would be as much as scared of Draymond Green, but this one is so tricky because in a world where Steph Curry could easily be—and shouts to the human highlight reel before him, OK, Dominique Wilkins—but in a in a world where Steph Curry really is a human highlight reel right now, it’s scary because some things you can’t guard. Like I watch Steph Curry when they were triple teaming him. He just takes a step further back and shoots a deeper three. So what do you do at that point? Oh, I’m really torn on this one. I really am. I mean, I don’t even—
Jason Concepcion: The thing is, can he play 40 minutes? Because when he sits . . .
Renee Montgomery: Yeah, it’s scary.
Jason Concepcion: Their offensively, the offense is is gone. It’s a one-man band, essentially. Everything revolves—
Renee Montgomery: He’s the human highlight reel for the whole team. And so that’s yeah . . .
Jason Concepcion: He’s going to have to play like thirty eight to forty minutes.
Renee Montgomery: I hate that we have all the same answers. I’m trying to like talk myself into saying the Warriors, but it’s the Lakers, they’re the better team. And I’m just talking team wise, top to bottom talent and top to bottom skill set: it’s the Lakers. What about this one? This one’s interesting. I don’t know if a lot of people are really like, get your popcorn out for this one. But this one is interesting. Number 10 spurs at number 9 Grizzlies. It’s happening on May 19th, ESPN 7:30 thirty PM. What are your thoughts on that one? Because it’s not as flashy as the Warriors versus Lakers, but Ja Morant has made it known that he feels that he’s a top five point guard in the league. And that’s just that on that.
Jason Concepcion: Well time to back it up. The Grizzlies are one of the best defensive teams in the league. The offense is middling. It’s, I want to pick them. I’m going to pick them. OK. With, while also saying that man Gregg Popovich scares me.
Renee Montgomery: Yeah!
Jason Concepcion: You know, like I’ve just seen it too many times with him and with that team. It’s just incredibly hard to pick against them. The fact that they’re even here in this conversation is a credit to like the culture that he’s built.
Renee Montgomery: Yeah.
Jason Concepcion: I just think Memphis is more talented and they should win.
Renee Montgomery: OK, I’m going with the Spurs. This is the first one. This is, finally. Because I’m not going to make a bad prediction just to make a different prediction. But this one, I feel like is a real tossup up No.10 Spurs—I just, their systems. And the Spurs system is made for playoffs. He knows how to prepare for the playoffs. They know how to take away your best things in the playoffs. So, Ja Morant, whatever he’s doing, you can bet your bottom dollar that right now Pop in his whole coaching staff are game planning on how to not let the Grizzlies do what they like to do. And they’re led by a younger group. So for me, I think the Spurs will be able to just out of sheer experience of how to shut down what people like to do. We’ve seen them do that. I’m a go with the Spurs for this one.
Jason Concepcion: Yeah. You know, Ja is a, he is a slasher. He’s only a 30% three-point shooter. He’s going to see a wall of bodies in front of him. And Pop is going to ask the rest of the Grizzlies to do something. But I’m going to pick a Ja because he made that big statement and I want to see him back it up.
Renee Montgomery: OK. Ok!
Renee Montgomery: OK, so, Jason, as you know, the Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony for the 2020 class happened over this weekend. It was delayed a year due to COVID. But the big story, obviously, was the enshrinement of Kobe Bryant after he passed away last year. The class was led by legends like Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett. Shouts to Tamika Catchings! That’s my dog! But what are your thoughts of this class? And before you say that, the speeches, I mean, Tamika Catchings’ speech. Unbelievable. Talking about, you know, basketball chose her. Vanessa Bryant’s speech, talking about how he would have been so proud to have Michael Jordan, his childhood idol. I mean, even her strength. Like, what were your thoughts on this 2020 class?
Jason Concepcion: First of all, just made me feel old. But the other thing is that I think just one of the most talented classes ever. Like Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, they’re are two of the best players, two-way players ever, like guys who really changed the positions that they played. And then you have Tamika Catchings, who is not just a pioneer, but an inspiration for people who have hearing disabilities, the way she has overcome that in her life, and to become the player that she has been is actually amazing. There was a really great article on her written in New York Times talking about her ability to overcome her hearing disability is something like her superpower. She was able to develop these other parts of her perceptions to become just like a better.
Renee Montgomery: And let me interrupt you. She became a superhero for real. I played against her. Some of the stuff that she does is absolutely ridiculous. And I think that players like that, obviously, she’s a Hall of Famer, but when you just look at her career and the things that she’s done, and how she maximized her potential. This class is an example of people pretty much that maximized their potential.
Jason Concepcion: Vanessa’s speech was really, it was obviously extremely heartfelt and extremely bittersweet. I think that the thing that struck me was that it was her speaking directly to Kobe. Like that’s what it was. You know, she even said, like, you know, if he was here, he would, he would thank his opponents, he would think his mentors, but I’m going to thank you. And then it was really like a, I want to say closure, but it was a, it was a extremely personal and intimate dialog from Vanessa to Kobe. And that was what really hit me. That really amazing, the strength that she displayed in over the course of that speech.
[clip of Vanessa Bryant] Congratulations, baby. All of your hard work and sacrifices paid off. You once told me if you’re going to bet on someone, bet on yourself. I’m glad you brought on yourself, you overachiever. You did it. You’re in the Hall of Fame now. You’re a true champ. You’re not just an MVP, you’re an all-time great. I’m so proud of you. I love you forever and always, Kobe Bean Bryant.
Renee Montgomery: And it almost felt, it felt so intimate that it was like not that you felt awkward watching, but it was like, wow, this is really a moment. It was like the way that she was talking, you could feel that that’s how they talk to each other. Even when she would, like making jokes, it was like this intimate conversation, this insider conversation that she was having with him. And we were all just blessed to witness it.
Jason Concepcion: I thought back to the first Kobe-Shaq Lakers championship in 2000, where they break through. Kobe was like, I want to say 19 or 20 at the time, because I was a anti-Laker at that time, pretty fervently, like I didn’t want to see him win. They won so many, like I get, I want to see the Knicks win one! And I just remember thinking, watching that series, being like, man, I’m gonna have to watch this guy for 15 years, maybe. 10, 15 years. Like he’s, how old is he, 19, 20? Like . . .
Renee Montgomery: Fresh out of high school.
Jason Concepcion: I’m just gonna have to watch this, like, literally heir of Jordan kill teams for a decade plus. So it’s it’s really, it’s still mind boggling to consider that he is not around, like it’s still shocking.
Renee Montgomery: Yeah, but you know what? That class of 2020, just how they all embrace that moment. It was it, was one for the ages. And you know, the 2021 Hall of Fame class was announced led by Chris Webber, Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce. Yeah. A long time, long time coming for Chris Webber. Paul Pierce. Ben Wallace, Jay Wright. Bill Russell as a coach. Yolanda Griffith, Lauren Jackson, Australian legend that killed it in the league, Tony Kukoc. So the new class has been announced, but man, it seems like it’s going to be hard to top 2020.
Jason Concepcion: That’s a, that’s a really, really interesting and fun lineup for 2021. Speaking of great moments, so it was the WNBA opening weekend this past weekend—shouts to my New York Liberty, have already matched their win total from the previous season. Sabrina is—
Renee Montgomery: Ok Liberty!
Jason Concepcion: Sabrina is the real shit. Holy cow. But it was your first WNBA opening weekend as an owner.
Renee Montgomery: Yep.
Jason Concepcion: Let’s take a listen to this first:
[voice clip] Last February, as we all know, the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA approved the sale of the Dream to Larry Gottesdiener. Suzanne Abair and a familiar name to Dream fans: Renee Montgomery.
[voice clip] Yeah, two-time champion and all-star, and formerly with the Atlanta Dream so she’s no stranger to this organization. But now this adds player perspective to the executive office. She knows this team. She’s suit up with this team. She knows exactly what they want and need. So now this just adds a voice into the room that decisions are being made. And hey, it’s Renee Montgomery. She’s very passionate and very energetic with everything that she does. So expect her to just come in and make an immediate impact. And I’m excited to see her expand in this role.
Jason Concepcion: That was broadcasters Tabitha Turner and Autumn Johnson leading into the start of the Atlanta Dream’s first game of the season, talking about our co-host, Renee Montgomery. Renee, we’ve had you give us some exclusive insight into being a WNBA owner. You’ve had the experience of playing your first WNBA game. But give us give us the inside scoop. What was it like Friday leading up to the start of your very first season as an owner?
Renee Montgomery: Oh, man, it was crazy. It was crazy because I remember that Northlands logo got laid down, I think, late the night before. So I’m like: OK, bomb, the court is ready to go! And then I remember we had some situation with the tickets, because right now it’s we have COVID protocol, so you can only have a certain percentage of your tickets available. We had 600 tickets. That’s it. Like that was available to the fans because our arena is a smaller arena. So I remember, we’re trying to do the ticket shuffle. The players need tickets. This is all the stuff that’s going into the game. I know the players are worried about the game, but we’re on the backend. We have agents hitting us up like: yo, could you get us some tickets?
Jason Concepcion: What’s your phone, yeah, what is your phone like at this time? Do you just have to turn it off? Like, can you even do anything with it?
Renee Montgomery: I can’t turn it off, but it’s crazy. I mean, my phone, even since we’ve been on, like, you know, it takes us like hour and a half to record this. I probably have like ten missed calls throughout that point just because things happen. You know, we’re trying to figure out Daktronics and the graphics, one of the graphics were wrong. And, you know, marketing and community are the two things that I cover, so we’re talking about graphics and branding, that’s like literally my job that I’m heading up. So, you know, it was it was exciting, though. I like the fast pace of trying to problem solve in a hurry. Our intro video came out. We had a poet that gave spoken word, Ashley Hayes, and it was very powerful. We announced our hashtag, which is Do It for the Dream. And it just, it was this powerful moment where the Internet recognize that, oh, wow, the Atlanta Dream is doing something different. And the thing that we’re doing different, Autumn Johnson, Tabitha Turner talked about it, are all Black women-led female broadcast team, like Autumn Johnson, Tabitha Turner, LaChina Robinson, Angel Gray. You don’t see that very often, but we’re trying to normalize things that you don’t see. The WNBA is comprised of 80% minority women. So why would the broadcasting not be a representation of what our league look like? Why would the vendors not look like that? You know, we’re hiring out pop and creative. And why wouldn’t, why wouldn’t our intro video lean in to the culture here in Atlanta and lean in to the community? So, man, I don’t know. I was just excited to see that people are recognizing that we’re just trying to do things differently. We’re trying to have that representation that should have already been here, but is here now.
Jason Concepcion: Was there a moment this weekend where you were just able to, like, stop and take it in? Or was it just like, go, go, go, go, go?
Renee Montgomery: Oh, man, it was go, go, go, go, go. But my parents came in, and this was crazy because my parents have pretty much been on house arrest since the pandemic because they were just very safe and they’re in that high risk. So we basically told them, you know, you’re on house arrest. So for me to even see them, like having left West Virginia to come here, to be at the game for, obviously this was a monumental time of my life and career. Like, yeah, I had that moment. You know, I was sitting there talking to Suzanne and I was just like, this is kind of crazy that this is our team, you know? And so, I think I have that moment every week, sometimes every day when, like I said, when my phone rings about stuff going on with a Dream, I don’t ever get that: oh, my phone’s—it’s like this is really crazy that they’re calling me about this. Like, as always, still this like: wow, like, OK, so I need to figure this out for the Dream-type situation. So yeah, I’ve been enjoying it.
Jason Concepcion: That’s awesome. Coming up next, Josh Luber.
Jason Concepcion: Joining us now is Josh Luber, he’s the co-founder of StockX. The former CEO of StockX. He is currently the co-host, along with Kevin Negandi of the somehow still untitled ESPN video series talking about trading cards. Please welcome to Takeline Josh Luber. Josh, how are you?
Josh Luber: I am unbelievable. Thank you very much for having me. I am only here so that you guys can help me come up with a name for our show. Thank you very much.
Jason Concepcion: You guys, it’s been weeks now! Like it’s [laughs] come on, you guys. Are you getting, are you at least getting any, any good feedback? Like you’re putting out calls to action to the audience. Are you getting any good ones back yet?
Josh Luber: No. Look, there’s a lot of good ones. I think we’re a little bit in between, Kevin is so in the ESPN system and is and is very respectful of that. And I come with these names that are not. And so we’re just trying to land on something. Look, here’s the thing. I want to take advantage of the ESPN brand. I want to make sure that, like, hey, this is an ESPN show, while also not getting caught in the morass of all these different card shows out there that are all called, you know, card talk and sports card nation. And like, you just get lost in all that if you can’t come up with a unique name of a show.
Jason Concepcion: Well, I pitched mine on our when we have our Instagram chats on Friday nights, I pitched mine. And I’ll pitch it now: First Break.
Josh Luber: First Break. Not bad. Not bad.
Renee Montgomery: That’s too close to First Take though.
Jason Concepcion: I know, but that’s what we’re going for. Oh yeah, you’re right.
Renee Montgomery: My first thought was first take, so I don’t know.
Josh Luber: Well, look, I’ll tell you what my personal favorite is. And it’s also, you understand why it may not make sense, I want to call it The Other Side of the Pillow, because sports cars are cool again. Oh, you know, there’s some sensitivity, you know, with, Stuart Scott, and I respect that. And so I appreciate that. But I do think that there’s something that really fits in that thing. So . . .
Jason Concepcion: So you mentioned trading cars are hot again. Trading culture, whether it be NFTs Comics, sports cards, Pokemon cards, magic cards are booming in a, in a fascinating and very aggressive way, certainly over the last couple of years. What is this? What’s happening? Why is this happening? What is this due to and what are the effects been?
Josh Luber: We’re all old enough to have money. We’re all old enough to spend our own money at this point.
Jason Concepcion: But it’s got to be more than that, right? I mean, people of, you know, people that were that are older than us that got old before us, why didn’t it happen then? Why is it happening now? What is what is it?
Josh Luber: Because they were the ones who told us we couldn’t buy those things when we were a kid. Like, I don’t know, like it’s our generation. You know, I’m 43 years old. I say this all time, I am just the kind of like every man for this. It was for sneakers. I grew up playing basketball when Jordan played. I always wanted Air Jordans, my mom would never buy me Air Jordans. As soon as I got my first job, I bought Jordans. And trading cards, I collected cards in the ’80. Sports market crashed in the 90s, we all have our cards in our parents basement. So it’s something about this generation where we were the first ones to start to to expand the purview of those consumer goods—you know, Nintendo came out when we were kids. And then, look where video games have gone from that.
Jason Concepcion: You can collect video games now.
Josh Luber: Right. But it’s a whole other topic to that one. But it our whole generation is now of the age where we have a little bit more disposable money. We can go buy that Jordan rookie we couldn’t afford when we were twelve. And you combine all these things with the the convergence of consumer goods and finance and collectibles and investments, all in this thing. So it’s, there’s a perfect storm going on of all this happening. A lot of people will attribute some of this to that pandemic. And while it’s true, some of us are at home and maybe have more time to spend online buying, this was going to happen this year anyway for trading cards.
Jason Concepcion: It was trending that way for a year and a half before this, certainly.
Josh Luber: And crypto people will tell you the same thing about NFTs and so I think it is, like it is just, we are of the age where we now say what’s cool. We say, what’s a good investment. We are spending money for companies that are doing this and we’re not embarrassed to go back and indulge in all the things that we liked as a kid.
Renee Montgomery: No, I couldn’t agree more. So I’m having my NFTs come out this Friday on May 21st because again, it’s a way where I watched Top Shot and what they did. And I’m like, man, these digital moments I need to create my own. Do you think, like the embrace of bigger name athletes and things like NFT have been a big reason why these collectors, you know, like these collector’s items are so popular? Like, is it the big names into it? Is it like, what’s the thing? Because I’m trying to make my NFT blow, so what do I need to know to make my NFT go?
Josh Luber: Well, look, you mentioned Topshop. Phenomenal example of this perfect storm, right? The NBA is the NBA. And so when you have these products out there that are LeBron James and Tzion and KD and all of the biggest names in the world, that brings the spotlight to this and it helps all this go on. But at the core, like you creating NFTs is such a perfect example of saying: look, I’m going to take control of this part of my brand and you are going to make it available to the people that follow you, and that’s exactly what the Internet has enabled all of us to do. I can go on eBay and I can go find the Earthworm Jim, you know, action figure from the Sega Genesis game that I loved when I was twelve. It’s about, like that’s what the Internet has always promised. And the NFTs are now doing that in reverse, where now you can do that and target this specific product to the people that most follow you. So it’s it really is the, what the Internet promised for us to be able to do.
Jason Concepcion: Let’s, let’s talk for a second about how you got here, your path from, you know, a finance major, a person who worked at IBM, to pitching StockX, to getting funding for StockX. How did, how did you, how did you arrive at this place?
Josh Luber: I’m a startup guy, I’ve always been a startup guy, but like most startup people, before you have some big success, you got to pay the bills, you take jobs in between. I had some corporate job in between every startup that I created. The last one was at IBM before creating StockX, but every single job that I had, I was always working on something on the side. There was always some, some side hustle because I think that’s just, you know, innate—back to the same conversation around our generation. Today, kids are flipping sneakers or writing apps or creating bots, or trading crypto, and, or trading on Robin Hood. Back then, you either sold candy or you were trading baseball cards. Like that was the hustle when you were, you know, ten in 1988. And a lot of us became entrepreneurs. You know, it’s hard to find an American male entrepreneur or a businessperson who didn’t buy and sell trading cards at some point when they were, you know, in the same generation. So I again, very much like every man for that generation. And I was always just pushing on different business ideas. And I think it wasn’t without some amount of irony that the one that became the most successful was the one where I finally merged the entrepreneurial side with my personal passion: sneakers. I mean, when I was 12, all I cared about were sneakers and baseball cards, and that’s it. And I got to create one business and now I’m in the middle of creating the other. And like I mean, you get it, when it’s not a job, right? That’s the best part.
Jason Concepcion: Yeah. Did you have any expectation that StockX would blow up the way it did?
Josh Luber: No, no, no. I mean, I don’t think anybody who creates companies in this scale could ever say that with any amount of truthfulness. I mean, we had a pretty good thesis and we were basing this on the way the stock market works and the stock market’s been the most efficient form of commerce for 150 years. So it’s a pretty good hypothesis. But we still had to go create it and we still had no idea that would ever be this big. And by the way, I still think it’s pretty early on in what it can be, given the nature of this unique model to the things we’ve been talking about. So, no, no, not at all. But I mean, we were pretty bullish on the idea.
Renee Montgomery: Well, you talked about like when you were younger, you were selling trade sneakers. So I can imagine I’m looking behind you. I can imagine that your sneaker collection is out of this world. So I want to know two things. One, what’s the like most lit item that you own? Like it could be a card, sneaker or otherwise. And then secondly, what’s one you want to get your hands on?
Josh Luber: Well, I just think in the interest of not letting any medium go without a drop of it, my most favorite item of all is my Abraham Lincoln rookie card.
Renee Montgomery: What!?!?
Jason Concepcion: This blows me away every time I see it. I can’t believe this.
Josh Luber: It’s probably only worth maybe, I don’t know, a couple hundred dollars. But, you know, I’ve been scouring the earth for, for nonsupport trading cards and I’ve been collecting a lot of like Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin. I found this set from like the 1860s of US presidents. And it’s a real card. It was it’s graded by PSA. So I just think it’s, it’s unbelievable. And it talks to so much of all the, this whole conversation. Back in 1880, they were making trading cards of Abraham Lincoln.
Renee Montgomery: That’s crazy!
Josh Luber: And all that. So that I love more than anything. I mean, God, the list goes on and on in terms of cards that I, that I wished I had, and every time there’s a new auction—and this is why I spent all my money on collectibles—but it’s been nice to move more of that money into trading cards that I feel more are an investment as opposed to sneakers that I feel are more of a passion project. I think that’s the big distinction between is that every dollar spent on trading card I feel is a good investment. Sneakers is just a personal passion and something that I love.
Jason Concepcion: You mentioned investing. And I think that that is a, that’s a great, it’s a great thing to unpack with regards to this conversation. My own theory about why this is blowing up at this particular time is, I think, something of what you said. You know this, our generation has money now. I also think it’s a way to participate in in the market, right, that’s accessible to people. I think, you know, after the crash of 2008 and certainly in the intervening years, it’s just seemed like the stock market, the market writ large, has been just impenetrable for regular people to get involved in. And now all of a sudden, here’s this thing where I know what it is. It’s a, it’s a card. It’s got LeBron on it or it’s got Michael Jordan on it, or it’s Pokemon. And I understand what that is because I grew up with it AND it’s starting to become valuable. So I can, I can really grasp the way the market works. And now I can take, I can take part in this buying and selling that goes on, on the Internet. And this like, you know, this vast economy, in a way that feels accessible to me. I think that that’s part of it. Am I wrong about that?
Josh Luber: You’re dead on, man, and, you know, even at StockX, we used to always say that the real utility that StockX has provided to consumers was access. Now, obviously, I don’t think sneakers are the same level of investment as these other products. But in all these cases what you have are valuable consumer goods that are not easily accessible. As they become more accessible, they’re wildly more easily to digest than stocks or bonds or mutual funds or ETFs or all the places that you might invest money. So, yeah, man, like, look, there’s a lot you’ve got to know about any market before you put money into it.
Jason Concepcion: Of course.
Josh Luber: But it’s not that complicated. I know that, like, hey, I’m going to invest in Michael Jordan over whatever, Alex Caruso. Right. Like . . .
Jason Concepcion: How dare you. How dare you besmirch Caruso? [laughs]
Renee Montgomery: Well, no, so I have a question about that, though, because, I mean, when we’re talking about investments, how do you feel about signature shoes? Is that like, is it gone? Is that a thing of the past? Why aren’t there more women signature shoes? Like, what is, what is that whole signature shoe world? Is there a value even in that any more, per se for the buyer?
Josh Luber: I think sneakers, more than anything, really is about, about buying what you like and wearing what you like. And, you know, there’s money to be made by flipping shoes. And obviously there’s huge market share and StockX has taken advantage of. But sneakers aren’t good long-term investments no matter what it is, because sneakers are still just rubber and leather and glue and they will deteriorate. I will say that in the last year and a half, Nike has done a phenomenal job of creating more female shoes rather than just sneakers for females, and so much so that some of those end up becoming the most valuable because some of them are super hot. And then the, the men’s sizes of the female shoes become the most expensive because then you have this whole other market that’s trying to get them. So you have a women’s size 12 or something, that’s like a men’s 10 1/2 will somehow be like the most expensive size because of that. But that’s a slightly different topic. I mean, I just think in general, like those who look at sneakers as a long-term investment, is, it is, it’s a tough play. It’s a tough play.
Jason Concepcion: So NBA play-ins is about to start. Who has the most potential for value-added in the NBA trading card market right now?
Josh Luber: I think every non-Hall of Famer. So we can basically segment all the current players into your all-time greats that are still playing. So LeBron, KD, Steph and, and then everyone else. And everybody else is in this category where the trading card prices used to be very reactive to the current market, to game-to-game. Right? Tatum we put up sixty like you did a couple weeks ago, and as cards go through the roof. That’s not happening anymore because the market has kind of leveled out and said: who have the current players are going to become all-time greats, or what is the chance of them becoming all-time greats? And so man, if like if Giannis can win a championship, like his cards fell through the floor after the way he exited the playoffs last year, because they thought that he was, he was destined for a championship. A couple of the guys kind of in between, I think a lot of Harden’s prices are championship priced into it because of how well he was playing and then the possibility for the Nets. So some of those guys that are kind of in between the chance of becoming an all-time great, I think, are the ones. And then also on the other end is Zion, who’s had an unbelievable year. And his card prices are exactly where they were at at this time last year, which is a reflection of, I think, the risk inherent in just his body type and who he is about whether he can have a long enough career to become an all-time great.
Jason Concepcion: Finally, Renee mentioned NFTs are dropping soon. Stay with your head on a swivel looking for those.
Josh Luber: What, what platform. Where can we find them?
Renee Montgomery: OpenSea.
Josh Luber: Nice.
Renee Montgomery: OK. Tell me! Y’all got to let me know. So that a good one?
Josh Luber: No OpenSea is one of the leaders in NFT marketplaces so that great.
Renee Montgomery: Perfect, perfect.
Jason Concepcion: Recently the Crypto Punks, which is a collection of 10,000 digital characters that were initially created by Lava Labs for, you know, like a mobile game project that they were going to make. But then they never ended up making. They went up for auction and sold for money that’s like insane. Millions of dollars. Some of them. Some of them like the lowest, is like 60 grand or something like that. You turn, you are the one who turned me on to this information recently. And the thing that I’ve noticed about these, the Crypto Punks, is they’re essentially the original NFTs. Right?
Josh Luber: Yes.
Jason Concepcion: The first kind of set of characters that are irreducible. They are nonfunctional. There’s no other ones like them anywhere else. There’s a set of ten thousand. And the thing about this is it seems to me that as the NFT market is is evolving, there are some principles that are basically the same with the trading card market, which is: first is better, right? Earliest is better. Rare and first are the best. Do you see any kind of like similarities in the way these markets are evolving?
Josh Luber: Totally. Bringing up crypto punks is a perfect part of this because NFTs in general, everybody is being exposed to them, everybody is learning more about them and we have a long way to go in terms of how they shake out, because there will be almost an infinite amount of NFTs put out into the world. That’s kind of the nature of it, that anybody that wants to, can. And so in terms of long term investments, I think people are really trying to figure out which ones are going to be there. Crypto Punks were basically the O.G. NFTs. This is basically like the rookie cards of NFTs, which I think, and I want to say it was Daryl Morey that maybe quoted that, I don’t want to use someone else, but I’m pretty sure he said these are like the rookie cards of NFTs. And so they’re already so far priced out of of whack, right? Like, so Christie’s had this auction last week. There were nine NFTs that were being sold. It sold for almost 17 million dollars. But really it was about this one.
Renee Montgomery: What?!?!
Josh Luber: It was actually one of those nine that was an alien. And there’s very limited number of aliens. I think it’s nine total aliens of the 10,000. And so that alien was basically sold for 16 million dollars.
Renee Montgomery: Oh my gosh. Josh, what are talking about? Are you trying to tell me that one alien sold for 16 million?
Jason Concepcion: 16 million dollars?
Josh Luber: Yeah. So just to level-set, like, you know, I wouldn’t expect that that you’re NFTs will sell for sixteen million dollars.
Renee Montgomery: Yeah, I got that part, Josh. [laughs]
Josh Luber: But this is also like the equivalent of like, you know, 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle or Michael J rookie or the Mona Lisa, or like, this is like, you know, THE original. And so it, it’s showing as a collectible what these can be. It doesn’t mean that they are will be, just like there’s, there’s millions of cards and there’s only one Michael Jordan rookie and only one, you know, Honus Wagner. So, really, really fascinating place to be to watch how NFTs and then how other NFT collectibles also increase in value comparable to Crypto Punks, because I will think that you will see a lot of IP created around them. You’ll see products created around them in the same way that Michael Jordan has spawned, how many different brands? Right. And it’s kind of the same thing.
Renee Montgomery: I need you to, I need you to when my, my NFTs come out, you got to tell me, like, what you think about them. There’s a, there’s some levels to it. We went kind of big with this. So it’s my starting five. It’s five monumental moments of my career and so there’s going to be some storytelling. It’s emotional. But yeah, let’s, I’m curious because it’s like a science to you, and this is blowing my mind.
Jason Concepcion: Josh is the guy.
Renee Montgomery: This is crazy!
Josh Luber: It is a science though. You’re right. It is a science. And, you know, I’m sure that you didn’t put out that content lightly, that you thought very well through like what you want it to be on that starting five, right? And the more real it is, and the more that it matters to the creator, the more that the people understand that, right? You know, people have put out a lot of crap as NFTs, and they will because it’s easy.
Renee Montgomery: Yeah I know. That’s, that’s what I was going to say. Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of not lit NFTs. We were trying to go—
Jason Concepcion: And it’s like an early crypto.
Josh Luber: Totally.
Jason Concepcion: You know, it’s like, you know, it’s like, you know, Dennis Rodman had a coin.
Josh Luber: Yeah. A thousand percent. Right? It’s the same thing is, it’s supply and demand. So those things that are rare, there is a lot of demand for it. And, you know, the crypto community has clearly identified Crypto Punks as being high demand. And I don’t see that changing. I mean. 16 million dollars for one NFT.
Jason Concepcion: Crazy.
Josh Luber: Is, is nuts.
Renee Montgomery: Mind blowing.
Jason Concepcion: Well, Josh, thank you so much. And Josh is sticking around for the debut of our new game Sticker Shock. Be back in a minute.
[Sticker Shock game]
Renee Montgomery: All righty, so now it’s time for our Buzzer Beater. Just the topics that didn’t make it into the show. And for me, we talked about it a little bit with Josh, but I have my very first starting five NFTs coming out.
Jason Concepcion: Crazy.
Renee Montgomery: And the way, the reason we’re calling them starting five is because, yeah, it’s the five monumental moments of my career to date. Everything is storytelling, so it goes to where there’s five, I’ve won five championships in my career. So we go back to high school and then we, you know, we tell a story with the rings, and then it goes to my opting out, my retirement moment, the moment where I broke the record in the WNBA for most threes in a half. We hit on those big, big moments. And, you know, we have international designers, like graphic designers that came through and drew things up. And so, for instance, for people don’t know the NFT world, if there’s like one of one, you can have one of one, well ours, like for instance we did for my jersey, we did one of 21 because my jersey number 21. You know, some things we did one of one, some things we did one of 11, because I played in the WNBA 11 years. So I’m excited. This is a very different endeavor than I have ever done. I even remember texting you, Jason, and being like: how do I describe what an NFT is to people that don’t know what an NFT is? Like, I texted Jason, I text you because I had to figure it out, like, how can I break it down and water it down? So it’s here. I’m excited.
Jason Concepcion: When, when are they dropping and where can I find it?
Renee Montgomery: Yeah, it’s dropping May 21st, it’s a Friday and it’s on OpenSea. So that’s just a place where it’s regulated so that people know that they’re paying their money to something legit and you’re not going to get scammed. So yeah, May 21st, everything is about branding. So we pick the May 21 day for a reason. I’m number 21 so we’re trying to make it all be branded to a certain extent. Thank you for asking. Jason. What’s up with you though? I think you’re going to address something that needs to be addressed, right now.
Jason Concepcion: This has to be addressed. This has to be addressed. Over the past several weeks. I, and you, I know you also have been inundated with DMs and tweets about whether or not Take Survivor is fixed. I can tell you that it is not fixed. There is no overarching directive to fix Take Survivor. That being said, there are certain structural flaws within Take Survivor that we are attempting to address over the course of—
Renee Montgomery: Are you going to go into detail?
Jason Concepcion: Well, one of the things we’re talking about doing is increasing the jury pool. So increasing the number of voters, everybody who is on this Zoom when we record, including our engineer Sarah, will be able to vote. In the coming weeks, we’re hoping that will help balance out some of the self-interest issues with the fact that contestants can vote. We’re hoping that will help with it. That is only one of our early reforms that we are putting in place. But I would just like to state for the record now: Take Survivor is not rigged, it has never been rigged, it will not be rigged in the future.
Renee Montgomery: Was it compromised? Listen, so I’m just going to put it out there, people wright me every single week.
Jason Concepcion: Sure.
Renee Montgomery: And they say: hey, are the guests just supposed to win? But, you know, they ask me that question.
Jason Concepcion: That’s not the case.
Renee Montgomery: And I had to tell them, you know what? That’s a good question for Jason, because I don’t know.
Jason Concepcion: I never I will say that I have never said, I have never said the words the guest must win. That said, I think that there was some, maybe some kind of like latent concern, like what would the guest do if they did lose early? Maybe that concern was in the voting pool somehow. And that has been addressed. And I don’t think it will be an issue going, going forward. And I will say with the increased voting pool, I think we will see a more fair and equitable Take Survivor as we move into the future. And that’s it for us. This has been Takeline. Please follow and subscribe to us on Apple podcast, Stitcher or Spotify, wherever you get your podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Takeline show on YouTube for exclusive video clips from this episode, plus my digital series, All Caps NBA, which airs every Friday. Check it out! Goodbye.
Renee Montgomery: Let’s go!
Jason Concepcion: Takeline is a Crooked Media production. The show is produced by Carlton Gillespie and Zuri Irvin. Our executive producers are myself and Sandy Girard. Our contributing producers are Caroline Reston, Elijah 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.