Kyrie vs. NY & Is Sue Bird Retiring? + AJ Perez On The Rams Lawsuit | Crooked Media
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September 28, 2021
Kyrie vs. NY & Is Sue Bird Retiring? + AJ Perez On The Rams Lawsuit

In This Episode

This week on Takeline, Jason and Renee talk to AJ Perez of Front Office Sports about the recent ruling in the St. Louis lawsuit against the LA Rams. Renee and Jason discuss why Kyrie’s anti-vax stance is so problematic for the Nets and wonder about the future of WNBA legend Sue Bird. Plus, Mama Concepcion joins to recap the U.S.’s dominating victory in the Ryder Cup.

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Jason Concepcion: It feels better when the team that beat you then goes on to move forward. That’s all I’ll say. Like it would have sucked if they lost.


Jason Concepcion: Renee, the NBA is back already.


Renee Montgomery: Back baby!


Jason Concepcion: It feels like they just left and we’re already—media day is happening as we speak. And because media days have started, the number one topic of discussion isn’t who can win the finals, but who’s going to show up to their team facilities due to New York City’s guidelines regarding premises, indoor premises and indoor events that have large amounts of people. Kyrie Irving’s decision to not be vaccinated makes his ability to appear at the Net’s facility and games complicated. There’s other players who are reported not to be vaccinated, such as Andrew Wiggins, who’s been kind of outspoken about it. He recently lost his appeal for a religious exemption and the Orlando Magic’s Johnson Isaac similar situation. Kyle Kuzma recently said that it’s a personal decision when asked if he’s vaccinated, Bradley Beal made some comments which would lead one to believe that he’s not vaccinated. All of this is to say, how do we think teams are going to handle these situations? Let’s start with the big one. Let’s start with the Nets and Kyrie Irving.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah, so I want to start out by saying like I feel like it’s the easiest thing to do, to everybody just jump on Kyrie and make him a punching bag because he’s the easiest punching bag we have. But that’s why in our pre-pro meeting I asked, I’m like, yo, who are all the other players that are not vaccinated because we just keep hearing the same name. Kyrie Irving, Kyrie Irving. Andrew Wiggins, whenever he asks for a religious exemption which the NBA shut that down quick, fast and in a hurry. But here’s my thing on the whole thing. As we know, getting a vaccine helps not just you but helps the people around you.


Jason Concepcion: That’s right.


Renee Montgomery: We understand that. It’s just that I don’t know what to tell people that don’t believe that. It’s a fact. It’s a scientific fact. Whether or not you believe that scientific fact, that, again, that’s your decision, but that doesn’t change the truth. However, I would like to say that if we have this large amount of players that are vaccinated, I understand—


Jason Concepcion: Over 85% of the league.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah! Over 85% of the league is vaccinated. If we have that large of amount vaccinated, well, yeah, that 15%, it’s tough. We wish they were. But Jason, like you said, it’s like if 85% of America was vaccinated, then we would be really happy right now. We’d be really happy.


Jason Concepcion: We’d be sitting pretty.


Renee Montgomery: 99% of the WNBA is vaccinated! Like 99% of the WNBA is vaccinated. And we are sitting pretty. But that doesn’t mean that people haven’t still got COVID. Devin Booker has COVID right now. You know, so, and I’m pretty sure using context clues, it sounds like he’s vaccinated because he was like, when he announced it streaming—which is so funny. I love, I love where we are in 2021! Devin Booker announced while he was streaming playing video games that he had the vid. And at first I didn’t even know what he was talking about. He’s like, yeah, I got the vid, had it for like a week, can’t smell, can’t taste, but other than that—and then I’m assuming that people in the chat started to talk to him and he was like, well, you can get COVID when you’re vaccinated, educate yourselves. He’s like, I’m not going to say whether I am or am not, but just educate yourself. So I’m just assuming, so I’m not saying he is, but even if he is, yes, you can still get it. But yeah, you’ll be all right, looking like him, playing video games even with the symptoms.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, a couple of things. First of all, of course you can get it still if you’re vaccinated. I recently tested positive for COVID despite being vaccinated. The great thing about it was I had essentially no symptoms except I was very, very tired. You know, people who use the fact that breakthrough infections are possible as an argument against the vaccine, it’s like saying, you know, you can still get in a car crash when you wear your seatbelt. Yeah, of course. It’s like, yeah, but you survive the car crash, like, I mean, which is the entire point. Vis a vis Kyrie, I look at it several different ways. One, like they’re, 85% is a huge number.


Renee Montgomery: Huge.


Renee Montgomery: I, hopefully there is something that we can learn from the NBA as a country about how they got to that high number. Similarly, hopefully there is something the NBA can learn from the WNBA about how they got the 99%, which is essentially 100%. I think that Kyrie should be criticized and I will criticize him, like you can’t do this. Like I get it. I don’t know that anything will change his mind. Similarly, I don’t know whether anything will change Wiggins or Jonathan Isaacs’s mind, but but it’s absolutely fair to criticize them. But I’ll say this, like, you know, I’ve seen a lot of people be like, oh, it’s bullshit that we live in a society where people care what celebrities think and say, what their opinions are. I, part of me agrees with that, even though that is a reality. People do care. Kids do care. Like, I wish it wasn’t the case, but that’s the case. They do care.


Renee Montgomery: It’s a fact


Jason Concepcion: Above and beyond that low, we live like in a world in which misinformation about the vaccine, about everything blasts out through Facebook, through Insta, through all these social media channels all the time, that many, many people are plugged into—more people than listening to Kyrie Irving, I guarantee you—and we can’t do anything about that. I just, as we criticize these players who again are a small minority of the NBA population, we should recognize that we’re in the midst of a misinformation crisis.


Renee Montgomery: And I mean, that’s a big point, though. That is a big point.


Jason Concepcion: I’m not trying to take the responsibility for being vaccinated off of Kyrie. At the same time, like there are large and powerful forces at work in our society through which people can easily spread misinformation about the CDC, about Fauci, about the vaccine, about what it does, about microchips, about all these different conspiracy theories—and we’re completely incapable and unwilling to like, come into conflict with those things. Or to like try and curb those things at all. And I think it’s very easy to then pile on to these individuals, who again, should be criticized because it feels like, OK, maybe these are the people who we can get to toe the line.


Renee Montgomery: That’s what I was going to say. Look, there’s that 15% in the NBA, led by Kyrie—and I only say led by Kyrie because you’re always led by who your superstar is, who’s the most visible. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in that group of whoever 15%,, the most famous person in that group is who the stories are going to be written about, who is going to be the headliner. So that’s a fact. To that point, Hollywood is ran on stars, sports is ran on the stars. That’s just how it works. This is how I feel about it: if Kyrie and the other 15% feel so strongly about not getting a vaccine, by all means, don’t do it and by all means, don’t show up and by all means, take all the consequences that come with that, whether it’s a dock in pay, whether it’s whatever. Because here’s my thing, you can have, you can have your own choice. You can make your own decisions. You can have your own privacy. But when I sign my HOA to live in this condo or when you sign a contract to play in the NBA, you have to abide by the rules of the organization, of the condo, of whatever company that you’re involved in, the same way that New York in the same way that San Francisco can say, hey, if you want to live here and work here, you have to be vaccinated to do it. Those are the rules. So that’s one thing. If you don’t like the rules, then, you know, to that point, you have to make a decision on your own. So if you’re going to be slated to make 33 million this year like Kyrie Irving is, well, are you comfortable with making 16 million then to not play in your home games, which is half of your home games, will be like 41 games plus the games that you will play in San Diego and play against the New York Nets. If Kyrie is OK with that, then we got to be OK with that. You know, like that’s all the way I feel about it. Like if Kyrie and them are like, again, this is a, this is a problem, this is a health conscious problem. I’m very aware that this is a problem because this is a we thing, not a me thing but if these players are literally saying, no, I’m not going to do it and no I’m not going to work and get my check, then well, then they have to, like they’re going to remove themselves pretty much.


Jason Concepcion: The other thing is, like the players got to understand too as they say that, you know, respect my privacy, this is personal. They understand why people are emotional about this. Over 600,000 people in this country have died. That’s surely an undercount, by the way. You know, that’s, we’re nearing into three quarters of a million people, like, that’s a huge amount of tragedy. And so people feel very, very strongly about this. That includes the things that Karl Anthony Towns has gone through with losing his mom, losing numerous members of his direct family. I want to read, so SI had an article by Emma Baccellieri about how the WNBA achieved their number. And here’s a quote from it: “The WNBA landed on a layered approach. They would set up a series of panels with researchers and experts, three sessions on Zoom held at different times so that every player would be able to easily access at least one, no matter what time zone they were in, but first they would canvas players learn which concerns to focus on, talk to the invited experts about what kind of environment they wanted to cultivate, open and participatory, with plenty of space for questions, no matter how silly or small they might seem.” It seems like this is probably taking place on a team by team basis. The NBAs doesn’t really have a strong or any kind of vaccine mandate other than they’re going to abide by state and city laws. That said, I don’t expect Kyrie Irving to listen to Takeline or listen to anybody on Twitter or read any blog or listen to any podcast.


Renee Montgomery: Naw, not happening.


Jason Concepcion: Jonathan Isaacs, same. Kyle Kuzma, same. But maybe they’ll listen to Cat, you know? Maybe they might listen to him, not to put more responsibility on his plate. Maybe they’ll listen to somebody with actual experience in this field or experience with the effects of COVID-19 that can speak one to one about why this is important. All of which is to say there is probably something that the NBA can learn from the WNBA’s approach to this that can help close the gap here.


Renee Montgomery: I love that. And to that point, I’m going to take that second to shout out the WNBA—Terri Jackson, who leads our WNBPA, which is our players association. I will say it wasn’t, everybody had questions. Especially think about the time when the WNBA was trying to get the players on board with the vaccine. This is before it was even released to the public. This is before people saw that it was going to be OK. This was when all the memes was happening on Twitter. Like, what if you grew an extra ear? Like, you know, there was all kinds of stuff happening on social media about what’s going to happen when we all take this vaccine because people felt like the vaccine was created quickly and that, you know, people had questions basically. But to that point, the WNBPA went about things in a very systematic way that was dope. It was “come when you feel comfortable” and I think that matters because no one likes to be forced into anything. And especially people that have a lot of money, you’re not going to tell people that are rich or people that are used to doing things their way how to do things. I don’t care who you are. Like, so it was a very come as you are. And then it was educational. It wasn’t even a “this is what you should do” it was “this doctor said this this doctor said that in this doctor said this, so take from it what you want and come back next week, we might have some more information for you.” And I mean, I sat in on some of those meetings and I was very comfortable with what I heard. You know, like I didn’t have to make a decision overnight. Now, I think that is getting difficult, too, because media days here and it’s like everything has to happen quick. But to that point, I would just like to say a lot of the sports league could take from what the WNBA does in all aspects, because even last year, before the wubble season, the WNBA had already put together a group that would lead the social justice movement. You know, our season was dedicated to social justice and everybody was like, wow, the WNBA is moving so solidified, everything’s on point, the shirts, the messaging, everything. And it was like, yeah, we came into the bubble, ready. And then we saw the NBA created their group that was going to run things as far as social justice and making sure things happen. So I would just like to say follow women, follow the women’s lead, because it’s not, these are educated. I always like to say WNBA players went to school for four years, most of them, graduated, degrees. This is an educated league. The WNBA and the people around it are educated. But to that point, I’ll just say, when it comes to all the things going on with the NBA players, we’re talking about 15% and I agree with you. You know, I played in Minnesota Wildcat and then were there, so to me, that would be enough, knowing that I have, we call it a, you know, knowing that I have a brother in the brotherhood and we call it a sisterhood, the 144, knowing that I’ve seen it affect somebody firsthand and seen what it can do to somebody? Yeah, I would think that that would be enough, but Kyrie said, look, I don’t want to create any more drama, that’s not what I’m here for, I’m going to continue to inspire and lead in the right way. Don’t say I never did anything for you. I hope you all enjoyed that. So he’s kind of, I know Kyrie’s probably getting frustrated because he probably feels like he’s always attacked. And, again, whether it’s deserved or not, you know, that’s up for debate.


Jason Concepcion: That’s just what it is.


Renee Montgomery: It is what it is, but I do understand that, like I would just say, control your control. That’s what we say in sports. Like, you know, Kevin Durant was like, I don’t expect it to be an issue. Harden was like, obviously, Kyrie is a big part of what we’re trying to do, but you just have to control your controller rules in sports in this 15% that doesn’t want to get a vaccine? To me, it’s like, all right, next. Like, I don’t know, like that’s just how I am. It’s like we can’t control it.


Jason Concepcion: Well, first of all, to the point of like outreach, I would hope that, you know, LaMarcus Aldridge, who’s on the Nets and will return with the Nets, who recently was quoted as saying, like, he feels like he has something to prove. He had open heart surgery, you know, ten years ago. Like that is a comorbidity. I would hope that there is some kind of outreach that’s like here’s how this could affect LaMarcus if he gets it, even having the vaccine and having a weaker version of the disease, here’s what could possibly happen. I hope conversations like that are happening. But to your point about like the checks, I think at a certain point this is, this plays into the kind of player empowerment conversations, I think it’ll be interesting to see what decisions are made. And at the end of the day, my suspicion is if Jonathan Isaacs, Wiggins, Kyrie, if they end up getting the vaccine and coming in and playing all the games, that will be because they couldn’t miss the check. Like at a certain level, if you can afford to miss the game check, decisions are going to be made that are very, very different than what the team expected. So that will play a huge role.


Renee Montgomery: Even last year, think about a James Harden, Jason, where no one could figure out why would he not take that Houston deal, all of that money on the table and all of this. And I know that there was some more things involved in the James Harden situation but the point I’m trying to make is James Harden wasn’t worried nothing about that money they were offering, and that money did not move James Harden in no type of way to stay in Houston. As we see now, you know, James Harden is in the Brooklyn with the Nets. So I think a lot of people have a hard problem with that. But when you have financial freedom is what they talk about, the freedom part is the freedom to make any decision. It could be a good decision, bad decision, whatever decision, but it’s your decision. And so I think we’re starting to see that now with players. They have financial freedom, meaning 16 million. I know for me, and I’m like, I’m not going to speak for you, Jason, but when I hear 16 million, I’m getting the shot! I don’t care! I don’t care what’s going on! I’m getting the shot! Stop playing. Like I’m getting it. But for Kyrie and them, you know, they’re talking to the league and they’re trying to figure things out. They may have to lose 16, 17 million and they may be fine with that because Kyrie might be able to just release four new pairs of shoes. He has a way to still make money. That money isn’t controlling them basically. So yeah, the decisions are going to look different than our logic because they, they have a different logic.


[ad break]


Jason Concepcion: In 2017, the city of St. Louis filed a lawsuit against Rams owner Stan Kroenke and the NFL, arguing they broke league rules and misled the public when the teams relocated to Los Angeles. Negotiating in bad faith cost the city millions of dollars. Now, this isn’t a first. Cities have sued professional teams in the past, but with not a lot to show for it. However, we recently learned that the Missouri Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that Kroenke and several other owners must turn over financial records by September 28th—which is the day this podcast comes out—or be fined. The trial is set for January and could have obviously huge repercussions for any pro league that is thinking of relocating some of their teams. To talk about this and more, we’re joined by senior writer for Front Office Sports AJ Perez.. A.J., welcome.


AJ Perez: Yeah, thanks for having me.


Jason Concepcion: So in the most basic terms, what does this mean for the case? What does this mean for the city of St. Louis? And what does this mean for Rams owner Stan Kroenke of Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, and the NFL?


AJ Perez: Yeah, that was big. That was that ruling, and then there was another ruling around the same time about, the NFL looked for summary judgment, which would have basically dismissed the case. Once that didn’t happen, and what you mentioned about turning over financial documentation and other documentation that are held by the NFL and other owners, that, it became more real. I mean, this case hasn’t gotten a bunch of national attention because most of the time, like you said, these cases get dismissed or there’s a settlement and this doesn’t get that far. This lawsuits four plus years old. And we’re you know, we’re a few months away from the trial, a trial that could go into—if it starts on time and the jury selection goes—it could last past the Super Bowl even. So I don’t think when that was filed, any legal expert or probably the NFL even thought it would get this far.


Jason Concepcion: Stan has to settle, right? If there was even a 1% chance of this going the other way on him, he’s got to settle. Right?


AJ Perez: He’s going to settle and he’s e’s a very rich man. And he’s actually, there was, a lot of this battle has been over documents and what can be viewed by the public, and there is an error in the clerk’s office where they didn’t redact part of a previous filing and Stan Korenke actually promised to cover all these expenses and indemnify the NFL and the other owners—and so it’s all on him. And, you know, although he’s a very rich man, you know, I had a story last week or, you know, this, a settlement could start at $500 million to a billion dollars at this point. Because it looks so, because it looks so likely that it’s going to go. And you’re not talking to a federal court case, whereas you’re pulling from an entire region for a district court, this is a this is a local St. Louis court. This is home cooking. They’re going to, it’s going to be, this judge’s rulings and the jury pool, you know, have I would say—I wouldn’t say they’re a vested interest at all—but they’re, you know, this is a team that left their town.


Renee Montgomery: So, I mean, you said it, though, because we’ve seen the lawsuits come up after other teams move, famously Seattle when the Sonics moved to Oklahoma and then we saw Oakland when the Raiders left for Vegas. But, you know, success, we haven’t really seen much of that. And this one looks a little interesting because like you talked about, he might have to actually settle and that 500 million mark, do you find—that’s blowing my mind—but do you find this case possibly having one of those different outcomes, like than, because we’ve seen this before, this isn’t new.


AJ Perez: Yeah, it is, normally, it’s like, it’s basically they found a judge that is going along with what the plaintiffs and the plaintiffs are, the convention bureau there in St. Louis, the city of St. Louis—and I think the county—those are the three plaintiffs. And this judge has been very friendly and reading the law as they should, and as they interpreted the law, and I think this judge has gone along with the plaintiffs. Also, it’s, they filed this lawsuit—not to get too in the weeds—but they filed in 2017. In 2020, they changed the law for punitive damages, punitive damages being serious wrong, you got a lot of money. We got, we got to make sure this doesn’t happen again in any other way. If you do the math, it could be a 10 billion to 15 billion-dollar jury verdict. If, those are usually struck down on appeal. And even if the city wins that money, this is going to be appealed by the NFL. It’s not going to be over in January or February, whatever the verdict comes in. This is going to go on for a while. That’s why I think the settlement talks, if they’re not already ongoing and this is all [unclear] no one’s commenting at this point—that, they, after a verdict, especially one in favor of the city, would be, I think we’re going to talk, you know, a decent sized settlement there.


Jason Concepcion: Wow. Every team that switches markets goes about it kind of differently. But I think the kind of unifying theme is always some kind of version of the argument: we’re not getting enough support here, the stadium is not adequate to economically support the team, yada, yada, yada. Can you talk about what are the specific claims that the City of St. Louis is taking issue with in terms of Kroenke’s position on the Rams moving?


AJ Perez: First it’s like all the plaintiffs want to prove that when Kroenke bought the team, he from the time he was a previous owner, he wanted to move. That’s one part of it. The other part of it is that that Kroenke and it may go back to prior ownership, they had a stipulation in their contract for the stadium there, the dome stadium there in St. Louis, where it had to be in the top 25% basically of all NFL stadiums when it comes to parking amenities and everything else. And Kroenke argued that even though they made upgrades, about 70 million dollars’ worth, I think, it was still not in the top 25%. So that that long-term lease became year-to-year at that point. He basically won that part of it, I guess you could say win. And so that’s the way they want year-to-year. And as we’ve seen from other teams, anytime go to year-to-year, that’s not a good sign. We saw that one in Oakland. We’ve seen that with the Arizona Coyotes as well. So it’s, the writing was on the wall, but I think the city wants to prove that this was all staged, that even Goodell knew that when he bought the team, that the, and there’s no indication that that’s the case yet. I know there’s been quotes from Jeff Fisher saying, yeah, when I became head coach, there was understanding that the team was going to move to L.A., but that is kind of a little hurdle for them to get over next.


Renee Montgomery: So it’s interesting, you mentioned Roger Goodell. We know we’re talking about people with a lot of money. We’re talking the NFL. We’re talking all these different things that are all the makings to make a great story, you know? So why isn’t this story getting more national attention?


AJ Perez: Part of it was I think it’s just we didn’t think it would get this far. And the other part of it is you lose your team and it’s it feels bad. I was actually a Rams fan when they left L.A. and I was in the Bay Area when I was a kid, when the Raiders left, I was really young when the Raiders left Oakland for L.A. When franchises move, it doesn’t feel good. And so I think there is, I think there’s a little bit of like they want to have Stan Kroenke admit that he was wrong, or just like apologize to the fanbase. Over money, because this is going to go, this is going to go to the general fund, people probably aren’t going to get any money out of this in the city and county there. But I think they just want, like, an apology. It’s like we’ve seen it many times and the NFL hasn’t had, you know they went long time without relocation. And now we’ve had you know, we’ve had Vegas, we’ve had San Diego, we’ve had St. Louis, all in succession. And the next step is potentially the Bills. So it’s kind of like, well, this team’s moved when the Rams left and the Raiders left, that they came up and I guess the Oilers in Houston moved to Tennessee, the NFL had basically some guidelines were they’re like, this has to happen locally, government, the fans, everybody else—you got to give them a fair shot to keep them. Now, the whole part of this case was there’s just guidelines are, like on a piece of paper, or was that a contract? Did Kroenke violate a contract, which was these guidelines that Paul Tagliabue set up 20 something years ago?


Jason Concepcion: You mentioned that no one thought the case would get this far. Additionally, you’re talking about a settlement, just the settlement, not the actual damages awarded should this trial go all the way to the end, being in the hundreds of millions of dollars, potentially. If the city of St. Louis were to win, what would the fallout be? And have we actually reached a point with the case going this far that there would be a chilling effect in the way that teams and owners go about switching markets? Five hundred million is a lot of money.


AJ Perez: Yeah, yeah. I think there would be. And I think a lot of owners would have to examine the state laws and federal laws when it comes to these things. And I think another part of it is I think we’ve reached a point over the last two or three decades where the tax base and cities are tired of paying for stadiums.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah.


AJ Perez: I think we’re there already.




AJ Perez: I think we’ve seen the pendulum swing back to where you’re a billionaire, you got money, you use it yourself to build a stadium. And I know there’s always tax breaks and dollar-a-year leases and stuff that teams get. And they do generate jobs. But I think we’ve seen study after study the financial impact—especially for football stadium used, I know you can use it for concerts, I guess, but it’s mostly used for football eight, nine times a year, if you count the preseason and maybe the playoffs. So, you know, if you’re spending, some of these places to one, two, three billion dollars to build—what is the benefit locally? I know it creates jobs, construction and into stadium management and gameday staff, but is there, it’s already a hard sell at this point, especially coming out of the pandemic and everything else. You know what, it’s going to be a harder sell for teams looking to move.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, Jerry Jones recently said on his radio show appearance on 105.3’s The Fan, The Fan’s K C Masterpiece quote, “Every opportunity was given for the Rams to remain in St. Louis, in my view.” Now, I think Jerry might have a dog in this fight, but what are your thoughts on that?


AJ Perez: Well, Jerry does. Jerry’s one of the owners were they’ve subpoenaed information from and so that, he’s like one of the handful of owners that this lawsuit has targeted. Just for more information on how it all went down, there’s been talk with the Bills. I really hope. That’s a, that’s a rabid fan base. The NFL, as we see in Green Bay, the NFL can exist in smaller markets. And because the of TV money, so huge. And the TV ratings have been great this season, where other leagues, especially and I would say more NHL and others, where you have to have fans coming to the games. You know, that’s a big part of it. But the NFL, you know, they survived. Most teams last year, about half the teams, didn’t have any fans at all during the pandemic during 2020 NFL season. And the others that did it were drastically cut back and we’re still here. I mean, the franchise value still went up. It comes down to having the fanciest stadium at this point and it’s been, and Jerry Jones started it, kind of again, with the stadium there, there in Texas.


Jason Concepcion: Yes, he did.


AJ Perez: It is a beautiful stadium. And then we got SoFi, which kind of went up to him. So and Vegas is also awesome, too. So, I mean, you got three of the best stadiums there and they’re pretty much on the West Coast now. But that’s, you know, that’s, other owners see that—and I’m not saying it’s about having the biggest yacht, but it kind of is.


Renee Montgomery: Well, he’s a senior writer for Front Office Sports, which is one of my faves. Go check out his work, or follow him on Twitter @byAJPerez. And that’s BY, not by BYE. AJ, thank you for joining us on Takeline!


AJ Perez: Thanks for having me on.


Renee Montgomery: All right, Jason, so we are one stage closer to the NBA finals, as we head into the semifinal stage this week. Now, we know he has some good games over the weekend as Chicago Sky, amazing Chicago Sky took down the Lynx, the Mercury beat the defending champs, the Seattle storm, which we’ll talk more about because the chance for Sue Bird, who might and I say might because I’m not going to, you’re not hearing it here first, but speculating, you might, she might have played her last game. I’m not trying to retire her, but it felt like that was happening. She won’t say. She said that she wants to take a year-to-year and she’s going to take some time to make the best decision that’s best for her. But what do we think? How are we feeling? Was this the last game that the legend plays in the WNBA?


Jason Concepcion: Well, first of all, let me just say that I am, after that game, I’m happy that the Liberty were eliminated. I’m happy that that happened. I’m glad that we got—


Renee Montgomery: Why? Jason. Why?


Jason Concepcion: I’m happy that we got the Taurasi – Sue Bird jersey exchange. I am happy. I’m legitimately like, listen, it was a great learning experience for the Liberty. I watch that team—listen, I’m dumb—but I watch that squad and I’m like, why don’t they just run the Sabrina Howard pick and roll, like literally every time? Like, it seems like they can’t no one could stop that so just do it all the time. That said, I’m glad that the better team won. I’m glad that the better team won and got to see Sue Bird against Diana Taurasi, potentially for the last time. And it feels better when the team that beat you then goes on to move forward. That’s all I’ll say. Like I would have sucked if they lost.


Renee Montgomery: Well first of all, listen—Jason, you just articulated my whole feelings for last season. We lost to the Bucks. I thought we were on a roll. I really felt like we could have went to the finals and maybe even won. And people thought that was crazy. But now look! Because the Bucks won and that’s the team that beat us. When I say us, I’m talking about the Atlanta Hawks. So the Bucks beat the Hawks and then they went on to beat everybody else and won a championship. So, yes, I feel more comfortable that we lost to the champs. And to that point, I think, you know, I’m glad you as a New Yorker fan can realize the moment because, you know, if that was Birdie’s last game to be able to play against Diana Taurasi, who we know, anybody—if you all know, first of all, I bleed blue. Right beside me, everything is UConn over here. So those are two UConn greats who actually play together. So I just think the story wrote itself, and I’m glad that you were selfless. And, you know, Birdie made some statements post-game, she said, through my career, in a lucky way, my position I play it allows for longevity. I never really relied on my physical quickness or my speed or size. Obviously, you know. She’s hilarious. And so as long as I continue to add to my game from a mental perspective, I was always going to be able to stay on the floor, assuming, again, the physical part stayed with me as well. So what she was basically saying, I think, kind of the Tom Brady-esque type of point, to these players where their physical attributes are not what makes them the players they are. And yes, Tom Brady still has a strong arm and we know that. But what makes these players that play into their, the later ages than we see athletes play—because Birdie turns 41 next month. And so we know Tom Brady. He said he wants to go four or five more years. What is it that allows these players to have long careers, have that longevity? She kind of hit on it. If you don’t rely on your quickness or your speed, which a lot of athletes do, your athletic ability is based on athletics. Those players that can still be extremely effective, highly successful, not depending on those things—yeah, you could play for as long as you want, as long as your body upholds, to a certain extent. And that’s kind of what she got at. So, you know, if we never—


Jason Concepcion: Yep. I was just going to say, whether it’s Kareem, Candace Parker, LeBron, Sue Bird, like it’s always, you just got to be a high IQ player. Tom Brady, like that’s, bottom line, if you are a genius at what you do, the physical will follow that for sure. And she’s just a great general—


Renee Montgomery: Yeah, and I’m just saying, that quote was from her 2020 playoff run but as we know, one year difference doesn’t change much of anything. What she’s saying is still the same. If you don’t rely on quickness, if you don’t rely on speed or athleticism per se for your game, then you do have a chance to have a long career in sports if you’re that caliber of player. So, yeah, that was big. And you know, something else that that happened over the playoffs was the Lynx and the Sky played and it’s interesting because there’s so many storylines in sports as we know. You know, Sylvia Fowles and the Lynx are a dynasty that’s trying to figure it out. You know, since Maya Moore left, it’s been difficult. They had Maya Moore leave, Lindsey Welham retire. There’s been a lot of movement. Can they get back to that championship form? So they were in the playoffs, but, you know, got knocked out. Chicago Sky is the storyline, I think a lot of people are talking about Candace Parker coming back to Chicago, almost LeBron-esque in a sense of I want to win a championship for my city. And you should see, like. Something that stood out to me was that Candace Parker has beat me for a championship. So I know that Candace Parker has been to the furthest you can get. But her excitement right now with winning in single-game eliminations, making it to the semifinals, which, like I said, we know she’s went to the finals and won. You can see that there’s this new energy because she is different. When you go to a different team, it doesn’t matter if you’ve won four championships before, it’s different when you go to a new team, your home team, your home city. So I really am enjoying watching Candace Parker and the excitement she has for building the Chicago Sky up to one of those dynasty powerhouse teams.


Jason Concepcion: They’re a fun team because they’re so balanced and they can kill you in different ways, like they just demolished the Lynx inside on the glass and scoring inside.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah, it was tough.


Jason Concepcion: And they are very, very good. They’re very good. And Courtney Vandersloot was super fun. Man, I’m still having nightmares about Sophie Cunningham coming off the bench and destroying—


Renee Montgomery: Oh Lord. Sophie, been cooking! But that’s what I’m saying. So another thing, we’ve already talked about it, but we have finally now that we’re going to the semifinals, we’ve reached the series rounds. Where is the best of, it’s not a single game. So I know that that’s, a lot of fans were upset that a number three team or a number four team a;a Seattle Storm, who’s played great all season, could get knocked out in a single-game elimination. So the good news is we’ve moved on now and advanced to the semifinals, which has a series round. So that’ll be something exciting to look forward to this week.


Jason Concepcion: Predictions? Any predictions?


Renee Montgomery: Uh, predictions . . . I would say I don’t see anyone in Connecticut Sun. So my prediction is that the Connecticut Sun are on pace to have a championship-caliber run. So like pretty much if the Connecticut Sun don’t win the championship, I would be surprised, because if you look at it four players on the Connecticut Sun were on the All-Defensive teams. So four of the ten players selected on first team and second team, All-Defense were Connecticut Sun players. The reason I say that is their defense is on point, which in playoff scenarios—that’s why people say defense wins championship, offense wins games. That cliché you hear? It really does matter in the playoffs. So the fact that they have four of the ten players on the All-Defensive team, that matters. And then they have who will be probably named the most valuable player in the WNBA, Jonquil Jones, plays for the Connecticut Sun. Yeah, I just it’s looking like it’s Connecticut Sun year, so that will be my prediction. I just don’t see anybody being able to, in a series, outplay the Connecticut Sun in how they played.


Jason Concepcion: I think they went on like a, like a 14-game winning streak where they were just absolutely molly-whopping every opponent down the stretch of the season.


Renee Montgomery: Listen, they lost the bag! The Commissioner’s Cup, they played Seattle.


Jason Concepcion: Well, the Commissioner’s Cup they got destroyed.


Renee Montgomery: They played Seattle in the Commissioner’s Cup. They got beat really bad. And I think they got mad and they didn’t lose a game for like, to your point, like 14 games. They like ran off a 14-game win streak. They only lost one game at home all season. So like I said, it’s just, like if they do get beat, I will be shocked.


[ad break]


Jason Concepcion: Renee, the US had a dominating performance this weekend at the Ryder Cup, spanking Europe 19 to 9, a historic victory. But to get a real understanding of what this performance meant, and the history of the Ryder Cup, and some Draco Malfoy news, I spoke with my mom on Sunday. P.S., she accurately predicted the final U.S. score the morning of—


Renee Montgomery: Yes, mama Concepcion!


Jason Concepcion: —the morning of the final round. Here’s our conversation about the Ryder Cup. Enjoy.


Jason Concepcion: Mom, what are your takeaways? What are your takes from the 2021 Ryder Cup?


Ms. Concepcion: Hurray! The US finally won, after 2016. I think that’s the last one they won, 2016 in Minnesota. OK, my take, like I told you, this is the American team, a younger team.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah.


Ms. Concepcion: And the [unclear] are old so this is a hard a golf course so the US has this energy and they are friends for such a long time, like Xander and Patrick, Dustin and Brooks practice golf all the time. And then Jordan and Thomas are friends from junior golf. You know, so I think, I think that that whole atmosphere is so good. And I think we have to thank Phil Mickelson, because when they lost big, there were actually leaving and they lost—


Jason Concepcion: 2014, I think.


Ms. Concepcion: Yeah. And he said something about the campaign and the leadership of the Ryder Cup, OK, that it has to change. And then right, and six months, they formed a task force. And now I think they call it not the task force, the Ryder Cup task force, they call it [unclear] Ryder Cup Committee, which is I think, Phil is one of them committee and [uncear] and Tiger Woods, and I think used to be [unclear] was there, but I don’t know if now. But those are the on the committee. So they made a decision who is going to be the next captain, the co-captain, and whose they’re going to be the pick. And I think they talk to each other all the time, OK, and not like before Ryder Cups, OK, that these are all professional and the [unclear] will tell them OK, and show them pictures. You don’t have to tell them what to do. They know what to do. They’re professional. You know, and I think that’s why it didn’t work before. OK, what European is really, the Ryder Cup is like, they’re, you know, they’re enjoying what they’re doing and there’s that common, that they are friends, even though they’re not friends. OK, so they forget that they they are enemy when they’re singly playing. And I think the ego of the old Ryder Cup and, you know, like could you imaging Phil and Tiger, oh, you know, you have to do this and this thing. It doesn’t work. And I think that’s why they’re not successful. With this one, it’s completely different. OK, and like Steve Speaker was saying, you know, he doesn’t tell them what to do. And I believe with the President Cup too, Thomas and everything they said, Tiger doesn’t tell them what to do if they make a mistake, he doesn’t say anything. But they can ask him a question, what to do, and supposedly Tiger is very good in comparing and partnering people. He looks at the whole thing. How does this one work, how this one, is this one is a good iron. And this one is so long. He knows how to partner them.


Jason Concepcion: I see.


Ms. Concepcion: They say Steve Stricker mention it, that even though Tiger is not there, Tiger is on the phone all the time with them. So supposedly, that’s what I read. He’s very meticulous and he how to partner people.


Jason Concepcion: Wow. And even the rival, Brooks and DeChambeau, even that rival, they hugged. They hugged after the win.


Ms. Concepcion: Yeah! Yeah. And I think it’s mostly media making it too much. But really, I mean, they were changing words and text before, you know what I mean, but I think, you know, with this one that they won, OK, that this is a big thing for them, you know, that is [unclear]. You never know what’s after a couple of months if they’re going to friends. You know what I mean. But at least they hugged and congratulated each other. You know what I mean? So that was good. You know, that was really, really good.


Jason Concepcion: So what happened with my good friend Tom Felton of Harry Potter fame, Malfoy? Yeah, he passed out. So he lives here in Venice, California. He’s out in Venice all the time. People, I know people have just seen him just hanging out on the beach in different places. So what happened? He just—


Ms. Concepcion: Really?


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, he just fainted?


Ms. Concepcion: He fainted. And they don’t know why. Even after now was looking at it why. He doesn’t say, he said thank you.


Jason Concepcion: And so he fainted. I wish him the best and I hope that he’s fine. But that was scary.


Ms. Concepcion: Me too. Yeah. That was scary.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah it was. So what else—.


Ms. Concepcion: They had to carry him.


Jason Concepcion: OK, so let’s let me just go through your takes that you sent me. I’m going to just go down it. This is your takes. Number 1, Xander, one of the best ion players, solid, very consistent, worry has iron problems.


Ms. Concepcion: Yeah, but not the single. Yeah. Yeah. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think he was going to win. I really didn’t. You saw that the [unclear] days, his iron was bad. OK and with the two days, OK, Zander is such a good iron player, and Colin also is a good iron player. And I think that’s why when he was partnered with Dustin, it was such a good thing because Dustin, year he missed and he gets it, you know what I mean? He’s such a good iron player and well, you know? And, oh well, sometimes that happens. You know what I mean? And he, you know, I mean, I think that’s the reason why they put him first because they know that he’s good, he’s very consistent, you know what I mean?


Jason Concepcion: And then you really like the Ram versus Sheffler match up.


Ms. Concepcion: Yeah, yeah, yeah, Scottie, that week’s the best. Tonight, that’s the best one of the singles. When Scottie beat John Ram—amazing. I really thought, you know, number one player. It’s the same thing when John Ram beat Tiger, he was celebrating like he won a championship, in a Ryder Cup in Paris. So, this is big. Even Dustin Johnson said it’s the best. And Scottie did that. And I think they only, the European only took three points.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah.


Ms. Concepcion: Right? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.


Jason Concepcion: So you predicted it, 19 points. You said Yes, USA [unclear] Colin and Morikawa did it. What are your closing thoughts and who impressed you and who didn’t you like as we look—and what’s your next event, what’s the next event you’re looking for?


Ms. Concepcion: [unclear]


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, do you have any, do you have any short takes to finish up with, or that was it?


Ms. Concepcion: Oh well, my short take, I’m so happy that they won! I mean, in U.S. soil. That’s the best and Steve Sticker, great place. You know, he’s crying, he’s so emotional. I get emotional, you know what I mean? I, I mean, it’s only in the Ryder Cup I scream and clap, [unclear[ I never do that in real competition, you know what I mean? But if the only time you can do it, you know what I mean? I’m very happy for them. And I think really the new generation of Ryder Cup and President Cup is going to be different.


Jason Concepcion: I love it. Well, what’s your next, what’s the next event you’re looking forward to?


Ms. Concepcion: What’s the next event? Actually, really nothing. I want to see, I’m going to watch that long drive, that I think that what’s his name is going to compete.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah.


Ms. Concepcion: Yeah. What’s his name? Brooks’ enemy. Brian. I think he’s going to compete against a long, long drive. I think it’s going to be next week. Yes. I want to watch that. I think there’s really nothing big because golf is actually over, there all in Europe, you know what I mean? So we’re going to have to [unclear] til January now Football is on.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah. Well, Mom, thank you so much for joining us and giving us your golf takes. We, I really appreciate it. You’re, you’re my entry point to golf. I don’t know anything about it, but you know so much about it. And thank you so much.


Ms. Concepcion: Thank you for asking me. Thank you so much. Bye.




Renee Montgomery: Hey, yo, you know what that sound means. It’s that time. It’s buzzer beaters, where we talk about the stories we didn’t cover in the show. You should already know this now. Come on with it. So my story that we’re going to cover, it’s not even a story, I’m just making an announcement. Catch me for the WNBA semifinals in studio with ESPN. I will be joining the homey, Monica McNutt. I always like working with her because I feel like the vibe is the same. And then I’ll also be joining Carolyn Peck the OG. So it’ll be some exciting times. I don’t have any stories other than watch the WNBA, the games are good. What’s good with you, Jason?


Jason Concepcion: I have, so I posted a poll on Twitter this weekend and it came down to a 50/50 split with over a thousand votes cast. So I wanted to ask the question here. You are out at a popular and crowded outdoor brunch spot, dining establishment, what have you. Here’s the setup. You arrive and you have to go to a cashier to order. And then when you order, the cashier gives you one of those little stands with the number on it so that you can place it on your table so that the server knows where to come. Let’s say you’re four back in line. You haven’t ordered yet. You were the party of three or maybe four. You see a table open up. Is it OK to send one of your party to go sit there, to go squat at that table before you have ordered and got the little, you know, little stand with the little number on it, or is that not OK? I put this poll out and it’s split 50/50. Some people were like this is what everything that’s wrong with America, are people who do this, that go and squat at tables.


Renee Montgomery: People took it serious!


Jason Concepcion: Other people were like, hey, that’s the rules of the game. Sorry. Like if the restaurant doesn’t have clearly, clearly defined rules about what to do, then that’s absolutely fine to do that. So I want to open up to everybody else because I was, I could see it either way. I think it’s very situational and you need to read the vibes of the restaurant. But I wanted to know what everybody thinks of this.


Renee Montgomery: Read the room. I’ll get the party started off, but I really want to hear, I don’t eat out very much, so I feel like my opinion is not the same. But I wouldn’t do it. I would not go just have a seat. Personally, that’s just not me. I don’t go, even go out to eat a lot. So that’s why I said maybe I shouldn’t even be involved in this conversation. but it’s a no for me. It’s a no for me!


Carleton Gillespie: But Renee, here’s thing. But you’re royalty in Atlanta, so you don’t even have to do this.


Renee Montgomery: Don’t you all make reservations!?


Carleton Gillespie: You walk in and the table’s just ready. They just go, Oh, Miss Montgomery. And when they move out of the way.


Renee Montgomery: Oh, my God, Because we make reservations! Hello!


Carleton Gillespie: No. You just walk up to any restaurant and they’re like, your table is waiting, Renee. Like you, you don’t even have to do this.


Renee Montgomery: It’s to much. No, no, no. I’m just, I’m non-confrontational. Everybody in my world knows that. So I would rather just take the road less traveled. I don’t want the lady that’s working there, the waitress, to tell me, uh, ma’am, that’s not your seats. I don’t like that. So that sentence will stress me out. So I avoid it. That’s it.


Carleton Gillespie: I’m, Jason, I’m pro-take-the-table.


Jason Concepcion: You have, you have a child though. So I think if you have a child everything’s different. Like if you need that table because you got a kid . . .


Carleton Gillespie: He’s four month’s old. I mean this—


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, but still. Like if I see that happen and it’s like a group with children, I get it. Like, you know what I mean? Like, you guys can’t sit at the bar.


Renee Montgomery: He’s saying pre-baby, Jason. No, Jason. He’s saying, pre-baby, he would have done it.


Carleton Gillespie: You’re, exactly. Pre-child, post-child. Look, if that table’s open and you can get there without causing a scene, like, I don’t see the problem.


Speaker: Yeah. I don’t have a kid. I’m also pro-squatters rights. Aren’t these like the benefits of eating in a big group? You’re going to tip more, like you’re going to give more.


Renee Montgomery: No they’re going to take their gratuity.


Speaker: But if you’re going to a restaurant on your own, don’t you sacrifice some of these benefits that a bigger group would get? Like you can eat at home if you’re by yourself.


Carleton Gillespie: That’s a good point. So Jason, let’s say—


Jason Concepcion: Let’s say you’re with a two, you and someone else. You want to, you’re looking forward to having a nice meal out on an outdoor spot and the people, and then you are about to order, you’re one away, and you look back and a table, it just opened up and the people one back or two back from you just sent someone to go sit there and you know that that was the table you were about to sit at.


Renee Montgomery: Oh lord.


Speaker: Yeah, I don’t know. If it was a date, I feel like I messed up and I should have been more prepared.


Carleton Gillespie: Yeah, two—I think you’ve got three minimum.


Speaker: Sarah, what do you think?


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, Sarah


Renee Montgomery: Yeah, Sarah, what do you think about this? This is . . .


Sarah: I’ve got two questions to specify for this. The first one is, is there a sign designating that you should seat yourself or is it ambiguous?


Jason Concepcion: It’s ambiguous. Most of the places where I see stuff pop off about this, it’s ambiguous, I think, restaurants need to do better at delineating who could sit when. But that is not often the case.


Sarah: Yeah, OK, second question. Are the seats benches or are they chairs? Because in my opinion, if they are benches, this is much more of a casual setting and then you are probably more within your rights to assign somebody to be the table reserver, especially if you are the resident orderer. Right?


Renee Montgomery: Interesting.


Sarah: So if there’s three of you . . .


Jason Concepcion: No these are discrete tables, like four tops, etc., like actual separate tables, not the long benches. The kind of table where if you are sitting with two people that somebody else could not would not feel, it would definitely be weird if somebody else was like, hey, can I sit here?


Sarah: OK, I can say that I personally probably would not send someone to take a seat. But I also know that brunch in New York City is really competitive. And if I knew that I was going to be waiting like maybe an extra hour.


Renee Montgomery: Competitive!?


Sarah: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Like if, I was going to wait maybe an extra hour, I might send a little gopher to sit down at that seat if I saw it open up. But I would feel guilty about it. But I might still do it.


Renee Montgomery:  Thank you for the disclaimer that you wouldn’t feel good about what you had to do, but when it’s competition . . .


Sarah: You got to do, what you got to do sometimes. It depends, you got stuff going on that day. You know?


Jason Concepcion: That’s the thing. There’s a million exceptions to this. And I could see people feeling bad about it either way. But I’ll just say that, like, if you had a tough week, or if you haven’t seen people in a long time, there’s a million different ways that you can rationalize that, like, OK, go quick go sit there. I haven’t seen my mom or something. I haven’t seen someone like in a year. And we’ve just they’ve flown out—there’s a million different things.


Speaker: You guys are too nice. How about just I got here before you. Isn’t that a good enough reason? I had the wherewithal to get here—


Jason Concepcion: That was a very prevalent argument in my Twitter poll, was like, hey,  these are the rules. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. And this is the game. And I also, listen, I respect that, too. But listen, like Renee, especially the times being what they are, I’m not looking to confront anybody over the table or something.


Renee Montgomery: I don’t want the smoke!


Jason Concepcion: Like you never you never know how somebody is going to react anymore, and that’s it. Don’t let it happen.


Carleton Gillespie: You guys don’t just play dumb?




Carleton Gillespie: I just play the, oh, I didn’t know I could, I didn’t know. My bad.


Jason Concepcion: Well, that’s important, Carleton, that’s an important point because I think that there is also a certain amount of décor. Right? Like if you get the table, OK, we saw that, like keep your head down, be on your phone and don’t look at anybody. But I’ve seen it happen to where some, where a group gets the table and it’s like they hit the fucking last second shot to win game seven. And they’re going, and they’re fist pumping and shit and the people in front of them are like, fuck you.


Carleton Gillespie: Don’t celebrate. Play cool.


Sarah: Yeah, I would always prefer that though. Acknowledge, though, that you’re being kind of a dick. Like, don’t, because you know that I’m looking at you taking my seat and don’t ignore me. Don’t ignore me staring at you, taking my seat if you went and like go in there.


Renee Montgomery: This is what you all do? Y’all watch the person take your seat? This is very—


Sarah: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I’ll give you the stare down.


Renee Montgomery: This is like very, it’s giving me like, why people honk their horns in New York. I ask that question all the time. Like, what are you honking about? No one’s moving. Why are you staring at the people taking your seat? They’re still going to sit there!


Jason Concepcion: I’m glad that we got this range of opinion. And it is a wide range of opinion. And that’s it for us. Follow and subscribe to us on Apple podcast or wherever you get your podcast. Don’t forget subscribe to Takeline show on YouTube for exclusive video clips from this episode, plus my other podcast, X-ray Vision, where I talk comics and movies, all things nurd-dom. Don’t forget to watch Renee on the WNBA playoffs.


Renee Montgomery: Let’s go!


Jason Concepcion: Goodbye. That’s it for us. Follow and subscribe to us on Apple podcast or wherever your podcast, and check out my new podcast, X-ray Vision. Follow X-Ray Vision on Apple podcast, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Goodbye.


Renee Montgomery: Let’s go!


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, Elijah Cone, and Jason Gallagher. Engineering, editing and sound design by Sarah Gibble-Laska and the folks at Chapter 4, and our theme music is produced by Brian Vazquez.