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July 12, 2022
NBA Summer League Check In + Wimbledon Review

In This Episode

Jason Concepcion, refreshed and recharged for the Summer, makes his triumphant return on this week’s episode of Takeline. Alongside co-host Jamel Johnson, Concepcion chats with another great friend of the pod, Zach Harper of the Athletic, who joined from deep within the thick of NBA summer league in Las Vegas, Nevada to talk the summer league experience as well as offseason storylines, rumors, trades and signings. Then Tumaini Carayol, a sports reporter for the Guardian who covered Wimbledon first hand, returns to Takeline to recap the illustrious tennis tournament, which just ended on Sunday.




Jason Concepcion: Water. You don’t realize, like, how water is important in the desert. I made the classic mistake of I ran out of bottled water because it’s expensive. Vegas tap water is like drinking dried blood like shit is.


Jamel Johnson: Filtered through coins.


Jason Concepcion: It’s like 100%. You taste bags of pennies in the in the in the water of Las Vegas. It almost killed me in the last couple of days. Like I drank about half a glass of of Las Vegas tap water, and it fucked me up. And so just don’t stay for too long, but it’s really fun. Oh, we’re back. Welcome to Takeline. I’m your host, Jason Concepcion. I’m refreshed, I’m recharged. Feeling great. Summer League is going on. Tom Thibodeau are you watching what’s happening there? You should be. Got another great show of of of talk lined up for you. Jamel Johnson, the great Jamel Johnson, Wizards and Washington sports fan extraordinaire is here. Can’t wait to cut it up with him. Another great friend of the pod, Zach Harper of the Athletic, one of the greatest to ever do it is is he is there just imbibing the Las Vegas Summer League air. He’ll have a lot of things to talk to us about. And then the wonderful Timothy Carroll of The Guardian of the Guardian. The Guardian will join us to talk about Wimbledon and strawberries and cream. Final men’s final this weekend, women’s final as well. Join us to talk about that. And we can’t wait. But first, let’s let’s chop it up with with our good friend, first of all, Jamel and super producers Ryan and Zuri, to just talk about what’s been going on the WNBA All-Star Game, of course, this weekend and various other happenings in our lives. Gentlemen, welcome, Jamel. Welcome, Jamel, how are you?


Jamel Johnson: I am good. I feel so good. We’re back. I’m in the trenches.


Jason Concepcion: What’s everybody been up to? It’s. We’ve taken two weeks off, which was it was great for me. I sat under the sun and toasted under the desert sun for a few days. And now I’m back. I’ve been watching Summer League. How is everyone? Zuri, how are you?


Zuri Irvin: I’m good, man. I did the thing where I checked out, and, like, I’m looking at old emails and snacks and stuff and.


Jason Concepcion: Fuck yeah.


Zuri Irvin: You know what? I actually use a lot of Shopify. This is not an ad, but I’ve been trying to like.


Jason Concepcion: Whoooooaaaa shit.


Zuri Irvin: Shopify.


Jamel Johnson: Hey, hold on, hold on.


Jason Concepcion: Hold on.


Zuri Irvin: Oh, yeah. I mean, I kind of like, start a side hustle some I’m kind of, like sell some merch. So, like creative expression and all that. And I have a store.


Jason Concepcion: Tell me, wait wait. So. So what are you doing with what do you do with Shopify? Tell me how it’s been helping you as you enter as you enter the marketplace?


Zuri Irvin: Well, you know, there’s seamless integration that is like one click. It’s just it’s just a way it’s just a way to sell things. It’s just a merchandise app. And I like I like trying stuff and I want to make like, hats and things like that. This is my break, it’s not great. Personal truth.


Jason Concepcion: no, no. Plug,  plug the shit. What is what is your Shopify store and what do you what are you selling?


Zuri Irvin: It’s called Get Stale. G-E-T S-T-A-L-E. It doesn’t mean much. I like those two words together and it’s just hats, framed artwork and some T-shirts. But it’s in progress. If you look at it now as you’re listening to this podcast, just know that it’s going to get better or maybe look at it in a few days.


Jason Concepcion: It’s going to get better. It’s only. But if you want to get better,but here’s the thing. Do you want to get in on the ground floor?


Zuri Irvin: That’s right.


Jason Concepcion: You want to get in on the ground and you want to be a part of something? We’re all looking to be a part of something in this world. That’s the thing. We’re all walking around being like, Man, where do I belong? Where’s my community? Where’s the thing that I can be a part of? Where’s. Where’s the NFTs? But before anybody knew about them, that’s maybe a bad example, but I’m just putting that out there right now as an example of something you can get in on. Now it’s time to Get Stale. Yeah, you can get in on the ground floor with this and be a part of the Get Stale community before it even is part. You could be like community member number three.


Zuri Irvin: Right.


Jason Concepcion: Think about it.


Zuri Irvin: What what a great.


Jason Concepcion: Be apart of something.


Zuri Irvin: What a great read. Thank you, J.


Jason Concepcion: Ryan what what have you been up to


Ryan Wallerson: A whole lot of recalibration after the NBA finals. NBA playoffs kind of taking a break from sports like this, like underbelly of the of the sports calendar. The Yankees are amazing, but every time I watch them, they seem to find ways to piss me off. I watched so I watch the last two games.


Jason Concepcion: Why? You don’t like you don’t like you don’t like winning? You don’t like offense.


Ryan Wallerson: I missed the first two games of the Red Sox series.


Jason Concepcion: You don’t like the Red Sox being like 57 games back in this thing you don’t like.


Ryan Wallerson: I hate seeing us walked off on after blowing two run leads in the 10th inning and I hate seeing us you know not be able to get doubled up in the finale. We went from potentially sweeping them in Boston to a split that I really don’t understand because we are that much better than them. And I feel like we had them on the ropes like we had them, you know, to the death in the third game. And then the fourth game we just came out flat. So and those are the two games that I got to watch. So I’m like, I’m sitting here like, I know you guys are great. I know the numbers, I know the context. So why are you losing in front of my eyes?


Zuri Irvin: This is like short list.


Jason Concepcion: Why can’t you be so? Yeah, yeah, yeah. The real off the stat Zuri, just so people could understand the level of looking down the level of looking for problems that Ryan is at right now


Zuri Irvin: The Yankees are 14 games ahead of the Red Sox and 34 and nine at home and we’re complaining about make.


Ryan Wallerson: Sports nation. Absolute desimation at all times. Especially in Boston.


Jamel Johnson: I don’t even care about that. The O’s are not trash anymore. We’re decent.


Ryan Wallerson: That’s right. That’s a fact, that’s a fact. They’re sniffing though one of the hottest teams in baseball and sniffing 500, in the cellar. I love it because that makes it that much more impressive what the Yankees are doing in the sport’s best division.


Jamel Johnson: Buddy, it’s the first time I’ve seen us win a game in summer when it was actually really hot.


Zuri Irvin: Congratulations.


Jason Concepcion: NL East leading a New York Mets. Also, I just want to shout out the New York Mets, the favored team of Donovan Mitchell. We’ll see how that plays into things in the future. But it’s a great time for New York baseball right now. Wonderful time for New York Baseball, which is fantastic. And Ryan, summer complaining about Yankees is brilliant. The Yankees are putting up like a historic fucking season. Win percentage 709 win percentage.


Ryan Wallerson: I am enjoying it. I truly am.


Jason Concepcion: Ryan, Okay. 709. Like they have to, they actually have to fall off like this. Like just in terms of what’s happening. They have to come back to earth or else. I don’t understand how sports works anymore. Like, this is crazy. And you here like, well, they still find a ways. You know, they.


Ryan Wallerson: Lost two games.


Jason Concepcion: Judge, Judge had his Judge had his hat on weird the other day.


Ryan Wallerson: You know what? This is true. This is all true. I, I accept it all. I hold them to an unreasonably high standard. They are overall, you know, emphatically blowing out, blowing my season expectations out of the water.


Jason Concepcion: Everybody.


Ryan Wallerson: Everybody. Every team. You know, it’s it’s it’s July, though. So as much as I’m going to be hyped to see a bunch of pinstripes at Dodger Stadium next week, you know, do this in September and October and I’ll be I’ll fly home.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah.


Ryan Wallerson: For the parade.


Jason Concepcion: Well, I’m glad that everybody’s been taking a sports break. It seemed like the NBA finals went straight from ending to KD-Kyrie stuff, which is now in a holding pattern. I guess we should talk about Russell Westbrook and LeBron not talking to each other at Summer League. I think I we’ll talk about this with Zach but let me just say like this is not you don’t need to this is not a thing that anybody needs to unpack. When people don’t fuck with each other, they don’t speak. That’s that’s all that is.


Jamel Johnson: Pretty normal.


Zuri Irvin: They care because the proximity makes it weird. I mean. Maybe Russell just wanted to be on the bench because he’s just, you know he’s a baller, and that’s where you’re supposed to be. But I don’t know.


Jason Concepcion: I think he was saying, you know, I mean, and it was clearly like, I want to be a part of this team. I want to be part of the Lakers. It meant a lot to me to come here. And so I’m going to show you that I’m involved. Look at me mentoring these young guys. Look at me, inspiring them. If they ask me, what do you what’s your what do you do about setting screens? I’m going to tell them, I just don’t do it. That’s not part of my game. But, you know, like that’s I enjoyed the body language university kind of like breakdown this morning of that of that interaction, but it’s not that deep. I don’t think people need to to break it down to that level. And by the way, body language interaction, that kind of like human interaction stuff, we’re all experts in it. So you know what it is? They just don’t like like Russell is not fucking with LeBron right now. That’s just what it is. Because he sees probably and I think fairly and rightly, LeBron as the boss. You know, there’s he’s he’s a fellow teammate, but he’s also kind of the boss.


Jamel Johnson: Bro, LeBron.


Jason Concepcion: The boss is been been trying to trade him.


Jamel Johnson: Yeah. LeBron traded his best friend mid-season. LeBron will trade anybody. Anybody is on that list anybody can get it. And Russ should be worried. Have I ever I told you about the time I went to Summer League in 2019 and.


Jason Concepcion: Tell me.


Jamel Johnson: This little white girl went at LeBron on the Jumbotron at the PR. It’s in the middle of it’s a break in between games the Lakers are about to play. So like all the dudes are coming out, A.D. is coming out, LeBron’s coming to sit down. Dwight is begging for a job. This is before they signed Dwight Howard. He is clearly at Summer League trying to get a job. And LeBron is not speaking to Dwight Howard. This is before they signed him. And then they go, the P.A. goes into the crowd to look for a fan, just to talk to. And it’s this little white girl and she’s a Clippers fan. This guy’s like, Who’s your team? She’s like the Clippers. And he’s like, Why don’t why don’t you like the Lakers? Why do you like the Clippers more than the Lakers? She’s like, Because we’re a better organization. We’re better run. We’ve been better ten years. LeBron is sitting front row in it. Thomas is back, is close there. Right. And the crowd’s like the crowd’s hyper and her up and she keeps going. She’s like, we got to be better than him next year. The year after that.


Ryan Wallerson: Not one, not two, not three.


Jamel Johnson: Yo, it was incredible.


Jason Concepcion: Ryan and Zuri area have you guys have you ever been to Summer League?


Zuri Irvin: Not yet. I regret it. It seems fun.


Jason Concepcion: It is. Particularly the Las Vegas Summer League, you know, no shots. But there there are the other Summer Leagues where where Josh Giddey and and Chet Holmgren have been doing their things in. Those are the off brand Summer Leagues. But the Las Vegas Summer League in the first weekend that it opens is fun. It’s really fun. The first time I went to Summer League for for Grantland. I went for nine days, which never do that. Go for two days. Maybe three days. It was well, because what happens is everybody’s there for the first weekend and it’s really fun, you know, like, you know, Jerry West is coming through and there’s LeBron and hanging out and there’s all these people just hanging out, like in the stands. And Zach Lowe is there. Zach Lowe I remember getting some great advice at that time. He was like. This is where everybody is from the scouts, lowest scout to the trainer, all the way up to every single agent and every single GM. This is your chance. Nobody’s stopping you from going to talk to Phil Jackson right there. Go up and talk to him and find out what’s going on. Like introduce yourself and just like, find out if you can find out anything. Put yourself on the radar. I didn’t have that kind of moxie at that time, but that was what. That’s how Zach managed to grind his way up to the status he is and have one of the tools in his toolbox anyway. First weekend is great because everybody’s there and you see everybody and it’s exciting and you can just walk in and out and watch these games sit next to people, you know? You see, like Mike D’Antoni’s son was like one of the ushers. Like you just see all like all these crazy folks from the greater NBA community. And then the Monday after that weekend, it just drops the fuck off and you’re there with like, it was like the dregs. And then it just keeps doing that as teams get knocked out throughout the summer, you know, it’s like they run it like a tournament, you know, people start falling away. You know, the players that that are actually going to be in the NBA start paring back. They don’t want to get injured. Right. They start moving into their off season and their pre-season like actual training regimens going away. And now it’s just the guys that are like, I’m looking for a job in China, I’m looking for a job somewhere in the Euroleague, you know, and, and it just becomes like extremely, extremely fucking dire. And then it’s just you and like some random fucking Pacers blogger and the smallest of and you’re just like they’re yeah. And you just sitting there like, I’m paying $25 for a single Starbucks coffee. I’m out of money. It that’s what happened. It’s like I ran. I had like zero. I had no cash after like five days. I was just like buying, stealing, like Fritos and stuff from anywhere like where they’re giving out food to the NBA, like reporters and stuff, and taking that back to my to my hotel room, rather. Like water, you don’t realize, like, how much water is important in the desert. I and I made the classic mistake of I ran out of bottled water because it’s expensive. And so like I was like, fuck it, I’ll drink the tap water at. Vegas tap water is like drinking dried blood like shit is.


Jamel Johnson: Filtered through coins.


Jason Concepcion: It’s like 100% you taste bags of pennies in the in the in the water of Las Vegas. And it it it almost killed me in the last couple of days. Like, I took a sip of it. I drank about half a glass of of Las Vegas tap water and it fucked me up. And so just don’t stay for too long, but it’s really fun. Enjoy it. Enjoy Vegas Summer League for anybody that’s there. But don’t stay too long.


Jamel Johnson: Ooh,.


Jason Concepcion: WNBA All-Star. First of all, a lot of talk about Brittney Griner and Brittney Griner’s situation around the WNBA All-Star Game. I think that was great to see the unity of people wearing BG jerseys. She, Brittney, of course, has been detained for a while now in Russia on drug charges, which she has since pled guilty to recently, which I took as a positive step. I don’t know about y’all, but it seemed to me like whether or not the charges are real true, whatever the case may be, it seemed to me that pleading guilty, aside from it being an admission of anything, seemed like I took that as there’s some movement here after a long time. It doesn’t matter what what the charges are. But it seemed like, taking those on and admitting to them is at least some kind of movement in the case. What did you all think of the WNBA All-Star Game? Anybody.


Jamel Johnson: Wish it wasn’t on during brunch?


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, that sucked


Jamel Johnson: That’s kind of my main. Let’s get that thing on at night. A firmed dusk tip off.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, we got to we got to figure that. Also like, can we get Kelsey Plum and the WNBA All-Star Game MVP like a bigger trophy? Why is that trophy? It looked like somebody ran out, like to the to the casino like store that was there. It was like, you got any do you have anything that’s like a trophy? And they they just like, I got this and then they brought that out. That thing was like an urn for a hobbit.


Ryan Wallerson: I thought it was like Onion Sports Post the first time I saw it. And then I Googled it out of sheer curiosity. And, you know, the army of images of her like holding it, you know, I’m just like, wow, this is really it.


Zuri Irvin: You know what they should do? They should like put a ring on the bottom of the trophy and then just make it a championship ring. It’s probably about the same.


Ryan Wallerson: Just add a little band.


Zuri Irvin: Just add a little band to the bottom and it’s a great ring.


Jamel Johnson: It’s an amazing ring. It’s a forefinger ring.


Zuri Irvin: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.


Jason Concepcion: Or like, take it. Take a piece of wood. Someone go to a Home Depot and find, like, a block of wood and then finish it with some stain and then nail the trophy to the wood. So at least there’s a stand and it looks a little bigger because this thing. Yeah. Is, it is actually crazy to look at it.


Ryan Wallerson: Yeah.


Jason Concepcion: How fucking small it is. Meanwhile, the NBA’s like giving out rings to the to the to the championship Summer League team. Like, can we, can we cut off some of the ring budget and, like, get the ladies a bigger trophy for their All-Star MVP, please?


Jamel Johnson: Or just scrap the trophy entirely, get them, give them some stocks, give them something they can use dog because this trophy shit ain’t it.


Jason Concepcion: That’s a great point because, you know, with a prior situation, if you’ve heard a lot of people say and if that was LeBron over there, you know, they’d move heaven and earth to get him out. The issue is that LeBron wouldn’t be over there because LeBron would not need to subsidize his income by playing in Russia. That is the problem. We can’t even figure out if we can get these ladies flights.


Jamel Johnson: Meanwhile, the last dude on the bench on the Summer League team might get a ring. It’s like, dog, you’re getting a cut. You’re getting cut, and you’re getting a ring. That’s ridiculous.


Jason Concepcion: You got to figure out a way that they don’t have to. That these ladies don’t have to go overseas to figure out how they’re going to make ends meet. Because that’s the issue. Any any other thoughts about Summer League or the WNBA All-Star?


Jamel Johnson: Additional shout out to Kelsey Plum for having one of the most embarrassing three point contest rounds and then coming coming back, coming back and winning the All-Star Game MVP.  It’s the only way you can make up for looking so out of place. The worst part was they got A’ja Wilson and her teammate on a camera. They had a camera isolated on A’ja Wilson for every one of them bricks. 20 bricks. Amazing.


Jason Concepcion: Jamel, as the official spokesperson for Washington area sports, we simply must talk about Washington Wizards and Bradley Beal and the decision to award Bradley Beal a $251 million extension, which is. Congratulations to him.


Jamel Johnson: Okay.


Jason Concepcion: But I think listen, it’s a lot. I think, no 50 wins seasons, one third team, NBA appearance. We could we could debate on whether it’s worth it. I think the thing that that is that is wild about is the no trade clause, which puts him in the company of like Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron, literally a handful of Hall of Fame performers that have ever received a no trade, Melo ever received a no trade part of their contract. What are your thoughts on the Washington Wizards making this commitment to Bradley Beal? Who’s good?


Jamel Johnson: He is good. He has an opportunity to show us something that we haven’t seen yet. Lord Jesus, I hope it happens. I hope he gives a portion of this money to John Wall, who he does owe a great amount of money for this contract. So many of Brad’s best years were with John Wall, who was also at his best and was the best player on the team at the time. We are we are awarding the man for 2016 steal. It’s been seven years since then. The Wizards’ problem isn’t Brad that’s what I decided.


Jason Concepcion: I agree with you, by the way. I agree.


Jamel Johnson: Yeah. The Wizards problem is player development, scouting.


Jason Concepcion: Mm hmm.


Jamel Johnson: We got the we drafted the guy from the Taco Bell commercial. That’s. These are our problems. We can’t draft nothing. In ten years of Brad’s career, we have, what, three good draft picks? If you count Ruiz


Jason Concepcion: Nice. Ruiz is nice. He’s coming along. I like Deni as a as a defensive player. He’s shown some stuff. Yeah. You know, at.


Jamel Johnson: The early this was. He was playing defense in the fall. Once he got the all star break, you could see they figured out all types of lay up packages on his ass. Tradable.


Jason Concepcion: But I think. But I think you’re right. The stewardship of Tommy Sheppard and the overall strategy of Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, I think has, if I could sum it up from the outside looking in, it’s been loyalty to players who maybe didn’t necessarily deserve the level of of reward and loyalty. And then I’ll just a kind of a lack of ambition in what they’re trying to do.


Jamel Johnson: They’re trying to be the cool parents.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, that’s what it is. They’re trying to show. Hey, isn’t it great to play for the Wizards? Wouldn’t it be great? Look at this. Look at how good it is. Look at how well we treat everybody. But meanwhile, like the results don’t necessarily support that particular mode of action. That’s just from the outside looking in.


Jamel Johnson: That we should have been meaner to some people. I know everybody likes Deni. I like Deni, too. But Deni ass could go. If you don’t, hey man. If you don’t figure out how to make an open shot or finish a layup, I don’t care about the defense. I do not care about who you strap up, man. Who you guarding, anyway? Me. They can all go to hell.


Jason Concepcion: Who do you like on this? I mean, so they have Bradley Beal. Who is, who is good. Kristaps Porzingis didn’t see a lot of him last season but would would he’s going to be an improvement offensively if he can show anything. And I think he was pretty good with the Mavericks in his last couple of weeks there. Kyle Kuzma.


Jamel Johnson: We like Kyle Kuzma.


Jason Concepcion: Nice. I like, I like Kyle Kuzma, nice player.


Jamel Johnson: He just seems happy to be there.


Jason Concepcion: He does seem happy to be there. One of the draft picks you were talking about, Corey Kispert, hit and started hitting shots towards the end of last season. How do you feel about Corey Kispert?


Jamel Johnson: Can be traded right now. I would trade him for whatever. Knicks. The Knicks, you want him? You need a Corey Kispert up the way?


Zuri Irvin: We’ll take him.


Jason Concepcion: Needs some shooters. Theoretically he can shoot. Will Barton? Will the thrill?


Jamel Johnson: Now, now, that’s what I’m talking. I like Will and I like Monte Morris. I like the guys we brought in.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah.


Jamel Johnson: Everybody else.


Jason Concepcion: That’s it.


Jamel Johnson: I’ve. I’ve seen enough. I know it’s only been two years I’ve been through this before.


Zuri Irvin: I love how simple that trade was. Two guards for two guards, no picks, no money.


Jamel Johnson: We always do things that it’s like seem nice. We got to stop. We got to get some Danny Ainge in our blood. We got to become evil, we got to add some evil.


Jason Concepcion: We didn’t need that. No trade. Let’s just say that Tommy Sheppard I don’t know how that happened. I the only thing I can think of is, is Brad’s agent must have been like, you know, they say no trade, ask for no trade, let’s see what happens. They were just like, okay. And then they were like snickering, like on the line. I can’t believe that they went for that, but that’s fine. Let’s go to our friends Zach Harper of The Athletic, great Zach Harper of The Athletic and get his perspective, the expert’s perspective on Summer League and the goings on in the NBA in this wonderful summer of July 2022, when everything is going great.


Jason Concepcion: [AD>.


Jason Concepcion: Live from Las Vegas viva Zach Harper. Ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba. That’s right. Zach Harper of The Athletic is here to take us through all the crazy stuff that’s been happening with Summer League and the trades and people getting massive contracts. Zach, how are you? And I understand that you do have food poisoning, but you’ve you’re soldiering through to join Jamel and I today. How are you feeling, number one?


Zach Harper I couldn’t pass it up, you know, I had to I had to get through. I will say this, I feel a lot better this morning that I did yesterday morning. I was getting ready to do  a live pod from the arena. You go on set and everything and sort the thing set up. And as I started, I kind of threw up. I was like, Oh, I really feel hung over, but I guess I just drank too much last night, whatever. And then I had to go to the bathroom a different way, which I won’t share too many details of. Okay, I got it out of my system. I showered. I’m good. I grabbed my stuff, I get dressed, I grab my stuff, I walk out, I make it about halfway to the elevator. I thought, Oh, I’m not going to make it. And then I, like, ran back to my room and just, like puke my guts out into the toilet. And then it was that way for, I don’t know, a half hour. I just said like, hey, guys, I got to cancel. We got food poisoning.


Jamel Johnson: They had to do all Wheeldon had. The crab legs, got you.


Zach Harper It was that half price steak after midnight. That was not a good idea. It had been going too well for me. Guys like I’ve been going with the Passenger 57 always bet on black when I go to a roulette table, you know, that’s cleaned up for me a few times. I pressed it a couple of times. It still ended up on black. So things. I had to be humbled.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah. You needed to be brought down to earth. You were what you were. You were. You were flying too high like Icarus, heading towards the sun that wax needed to get melted down. You need to come down to earth a little bit. Tell us for for Summer League is such a unique sporting experience. Give our audience for those listening who maybe haven’t haven’t been to a Summer League, don’t understand what it is. Give us a little taste of the Summer League experience. What’s what’s it like and what’s it like this season?


Zach Harper Well other than the the Syracuse Carmelo Anthony fan that just beat the shit out of somebody in the stands.


Jason Concepcion: Yo, did you see that?.


Zach Harper I did. I saw that because of you.


Jamel Johnson: Oh.


Zach Harper Yeah. Jamel, you haven’t seen this? Oh, this man. Oh my goodness.


Jason Concepcion: I’ll just explain what had happened. There is a Lakers. There’s like a Lakers fan who was standing up and was dancing and was was talking shit to various people around the arena. And then a fan in a Carmelo Anthony Syracuse. Carmelo Anthony Jersey took exception to this from above and came down. Usually if you’re the higher up, all all the person lower has to do is grab you and pull, now all of a sudden you fallen down right your top heavy and you’re getting your ass beat. But the Carmelo the fan who the Carmelo fan beat up made a classic mistake, which is he tried to climb up and his foot got hung up. His foot got hung up on the seat as he tried to climb up. And then Carmelo fan was just like, Great, I’m going to take advantage and just wap, wap, wap, wap. You could hear the cracks like in the video. Got him.


Zach Harper And Jason this is this is where Summer League is important, right? Because it’s where you find out who has the fundamentals and who does right on the court in the stands, who has the fundamentals and who doesn’t. And it makes you you know, it shows who’s ready for this and who isn’t.


Jason Concepcion: That’s exactly right.


Zach Harper Exactly.


Jamel Johnson: His footwork was off. It’s all about footwork.


Zach Harper It’s all about footwork.


Jamel Johnson: No matter where you are in the building.


Jason Concepcion: You know, like when you when when like you’re when you come down to the kitchen and your grandma is trying to climb up on the counter because there’s a high cupboard that she needs. And that’s what it look like where the where that they put the foot up, they put the leg up and then the tip of the foot gets caught on that edge and can’t go over. And that’s where my guy just went to work. You can’t do that.


Zach Harper It reminded me of I don’t know if you ever try to get out of a car and and the door is too low to the curb, right? So you don’t want to, like, scratch the door. And so you try to put your your foot in the gutter, but it’s too close to the to the curb. And so now you’ve got to like kind of side angle it, otherwise your foot gets stuck. And that’s what it looked like to me.


Jason Concepcion: Let’s start with free agency.


Zach Harper It happened last week and it was like, I’m going to scratch the shit out of these shoes like, oh, don’t worry about that most of the time. But it was some shoes I didn’t want to scratch up. I’m trying to figure out how to get out of that. I just looked like an idiot, but I just looked like I’d never gotten out of car before.


Jason Concepcion: Zach. Free agency is going on. Has been crazy. Big headlines. KAT getting a deal. Is I on signing a triumphant a triumphant deal for the New Orleans Pelicans organization for resigned sign that Bradley Beal getting a massive and historic contract considering the no trade clause that is included there in. Jokic signing the biggest deal ever in NBA history, Booker’s extension, etc.. What stood out to you?


Zach Harper I think it’s two things. One, the Bradley Beal deal, right? The Bradley Beal deal where there is no trade clause and it’s like people are going to hammer him for this because he doesn’t want to win and he didn’t go somewhere else. And even though we try to kill people when they do want to go somewhere else and want to win and make it easier, right? But with the Beal thing, it’s like it’s going to be such a fascinating conversation when eight years from now he’s got like 20,000 plus points. He’s got a bunch of All-Star selections, maybe a couple of all NBA. He’s made like $500 million. And there’s got to be a conversation that sets the Internet on fire of is this guy a Hall of Famer? And it’s going to end like it’s going to wreck whatever. If Twitter is still around, it will be the end of Twitter. If it’s something new, it’ll be the end of TikTok or so. I don’t know. But it’s going to that’s one that’s going to absolutely wreck the Internet when that conversation comes up, because he is a hell of a player. Like, I don’t know why we’re putting it on him to to save this Wizards franchise. Like they haven’t put a ton around him yet. I like the team now. I think team now is like pretty, pretty solid. But, you know, he’s just it’s it’s a adorable team. You know, you got really you got Kristaps like, yeah, it’s an adorable team. But but yeah, like, I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t fault him for taking the money. Someone offers you a quarter of a billion.


Jason Concepcion: Of course not.


Zach Harper Take it. No matter what. I don’t care. You could go 0 in 82 the next season. I will champion that deal every time. And then the Zion one is interesting because I believe they’ve tried to put some protections in there because of the injuries. But I think if he just makes all NBA once in that contract, it fully guarantees it. So he could come back, be healthy next season, make all NBA because he’s he’s incredible. It becomes guaranteed and then he could be injured for the next four years and he’s getting all 230.


Jamel Johnson: Damn I ain’t realize that’s whoo. Shout out to Zion’s team. That’s good. Yeah, that’s some good paperwork right there. Yeah, I know you’re, you’re the head guy over at Wolves Nation. Where are you with Rudy Gobert? How. How do you feel?


Zach Harper I didn’t stop shitting on him in the playoffs when he was a Jazz, Jazz member. I won’t stop shitting him in the playoffs when he’s when he’s a Timberwolf. Like look he this is my issue with the Rudy conversation is it’s always been like this is the greatest defender of all this and I’m like, you can’t be the greatest defender is your food in the playoffs. You just can’t. They’re like oh well Donovan Mitchell’s bad at defense and this guy’s about defense, so you can’t keep up with it. I was like, Okay, but then don’t say that you’re the historic defender that you are. That’s my issue with the whole thing. And so now he goes to the Wolves, and it’s actually like what it does for Karl Anthony Towns offensively, because he should be taking more threes, he should be attacking from the perimeter more. He struggled a lot in the post last season against double teams and was having some of the worst turnovers, whenever they sent any kind of doubles. It could have been Boykins doubling off off the perimeter and he wouldn’t have handled it well, right? Like it didn’t matter the size of the play.


Jason Concepcion: Shouts to, shouts to the great Earl Boykins.


Zach Harper But you always have to you’re legally obligated to mention that he bench 300 pounds.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah.


Zach Harper Like you have to. You have to. No look, is it easier when your arms are that short? I don’t know. I don’t know what the physics are on that, but I’m just don’t want to giving away I just a question but but you know that’s all. So I like what he does offensively all right so now he’s got to clean up for KAT and D’Angelo Russell on defense? It helps. I like to Karl Anthony move and the Anthony Edwards continues to get better and he’ll be even better defensively but man like I. The goal the move was to no longer be the Timberwolves. And you do that by winning 50 games every year, getting knocked out in the second round. I think that’s what’s going to happen. But sadly for that franchise, that’s an improvement.


Jamel Johnson: Hey, I am a Wizards fan. I know all about it.


Jason Concepcion: You know, I wanted to take it to take some more optimistic side of it. I think, you know, a lot of attention has been paid to the price that was paid for Gobert. I think obviously it was an overpay but at the same time, like when you have. The Wolves have the thing that every franchise wants, which is two superstars legitimate. Like KAT, for all his flaws that we’ve picked over them, everyone has picked over them for the entire time he’s been in NBA, legitimately an elite offensive, big, arguably the best offensive big like in the league right now. Anthony Edwards, budding superstar, will be one of the like marquee players in the NBA. I think just because of his personality, the way he plays, going forward for the next ten years, that’s the thing that everybody wants. When you have that, it makes sense to say, okay, we’re going to bet on these two guys. Let’s push everything we have to the middle of the table. And now, like, you know, the Wolves starting five, take all the baggage that Rudy really brings, right? You know if you have a top three of KAT, Anthony Edwards, Rudy Gobert, add slow time into it.  D’Angelo Russell, I’m not the biggest fan. Makes a lot of mistakes at crucial moments but our fans like you know arguably he cleans that up. That’s pretty good. And then you just hope that the things that the team can control mistakes, bad decisions, etc.. Shrink. And I kind of like it. I like it like and and again like to Rudy’s the baggage that he brings. I think that he’s going to be more determined than ever to prove to everybody like, hey, you can’t small me away. Like, I’ve figured this stuff out. I’m going to be good. I kind of like it for them from that perspective.


Zach Harper That is one thing where I think Chris Finch as a coach can help because I do think when Rudy has a small on him around the basket, Chris Finch will say throwing the ball, catch it high, try to dunk. Because that’s the that’s the the issue hasn’t been necessarily defensively when teams went small against the Jazz in the playoffs. It’s been on offense Rudy didn’t punish. Rudy didn’t know how. He’s like so in just no touch with the basketball. It looks like it looks like he’s trying to break a backboard on a left handed hook. I mean, it’s just it’s so bad. But, I mean, the thing is, like, I don’t know how much higher their ceiling is as a team, but their floor is much higher than it was before. You could look out a lot of last season and and either be very positive about it or you could be like, look, that was kind of fluky what happened and it’s not going to be as good going forward. But you’re right. I mean, Anthony Edwards is a star. Anthony Edwards is going to be a top player in this league. Like I. I dubbed him up like a year ago. I was like, I think he’s actually Wolves’ proofed. Like, I think, like, even though not even the Wolves could could mess this up. Like I think he’s legitimately that good. KAT is phenomenal. KAT’s just not the lead guy.


Jamel Johnson: He got wolfed. He got wolfed.


Zach Harper He got wolfed. Exactly. But you’re right. Like, I mean, they’re going to be in they’re going to be in the mix. I just don’t know I don’t know if there’s ever a path to the championship. But again, it’s the Wolves. There’s never been a past the championship other than when Sam Cassell injured his hip, having imaginary testicles that were too, too large to carry. Right. Like that’s the only time.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah. I mean, this is a team that that made it really tough for the Memphis Grizzlies. Despite the fact that they made every stupid mistake that you could possibly make over the course of a basketball series, like if they weren’t dumb, they win that series with 20 point leads like three times.


Zach Harper They could not have played a dumber series. They honestly couldn’t, though they still pushed.


Jason Concepcion: It like shit, like they’re really stupid.


Zach Harper They’re bad teams that can be so much smarter and got swept, right? Like their teams are pretty smart. That’s what got swept. They played about as dumb as they can get and they pushed for six games. There is clearly talent there.


Jamel Johnson: Pat Beverley Man, I look, I think I did the right thing, but there is what Pat Beverley does doesn’t have anything to do with statistics or ability.


Zach Harper No. No. It has to do with after school  specials about bullying. Yeah, it has you. Yes. But what’s funny is they included him in the deal because they knew we can’t have Pat and Rudy on the same team. Like, we just like we’ll be like he’s got to go. We’re not going to pay him when he’s a free agent in a year. Like we like it. Just we know that there is a fine line because they there’s a lot of the manager with the personalities of KAT and Golbert who didn’t exactly like each other before. And Anthony Edwards said that Kristaps Porzingis is a much better rim protector than Rudy Golbert the original saying, which is insane.


Jamel Johnson: Insane


Jason Concepcion: Insane, I love that.


Zach Harper Hilarious. He was like, I don’t get no layups against Kirstaps. I get whatever I want to get with Rudy, which also I don’t think was true. Like I think he was going to block the rim. So it’s.


Jason Concepcion: It’s not true. It’s not it’s not true.


Zach Harper Oh, you both know what is right. But but they knew that if Pat Beverley was here, this, this thing would absolutely implode.


Jamel Johnson: He would have brought a stepladder to practice, just a yell in his face.


Zach Harper Oh, well, one of my favorite one of my favorite things I ever witnessed was right after the Clippers got Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. I was in a restaurant here in Vegas because that happened during Summer League. And so I’m out. I leave the restaurant to call my editor because we have to like fix a couple of things in like the article I pre wrote because I wrote a bunch of like different scenarios. So I go, I’m like, I’ve got to do this, this, this. And I see PJ Tucker walk into the walk into the restaurant as I’m out there. When I walk back in, PJ Tucker is standing with Jordan Clarkson. They’re just standing in the middle of the restaurant talking. Pat Beverley was in there wearing an Allen Iverson jersey, and he is skipping around the around the restaurant. Every once in a while he would go up to PJ Tucker, who’s on the Rockets at the time he got P.J. Tucker and throw out this primal scream to the side of his face as he is just calmly talking to Jordan Clarkson. And then he would go away and he would skip away and come back home later like I was the greatest thing I’ve ever seen in person.


Jamel Johnson: Oh, my God. Damn, that sounds incredible. That’s what’s so.


Zach Harper Pat Beverly,  Pat Beverley would have absolutely screamed in his face every single day on a stepladder.


Jamel Johnson: The Utah Jazz. I’ve been waiting for this team’s carcass to get picked clean for about four years now.


Zach Harper Yep.


Jamel Johnson: It’s finally happening. Do they want to keep Donovan Mitchell or not? What’s their deal?.


Zach Harper They want to keep Donovan Mitchell. The new owner, Brian Smith, is all in on Donovan Mitchell. I don’t know what Danny Ainge really does.


Jason Concepcion: Danny is licking his chops. He can’t tell Donovan Mitchell, get the fuck out of here.


Zach Harper He cannot wait to go to Donovan. But hey, you’ve been traded to the Kings or whatever else, right?


Jason Concepcion: Yeah.


Zach Harper And so and so. I think ownership will win out here, because ownership always wins out. But if you think about like the timing of everything, the All-Star Game is in Salt Lake City this coming season. They’re not going to trade unless it’s just a deal that absolutely blows them away. They’re not going to trade Donovan Mitchell before he can be the mayor of Salt Lake City and the mayor of the Utah Jazz. And everyone has this great moment and he’s like, Yeah, the big head all around the city and everything. Like they’re going to give themselves that moment. And then if Donovan wants out and Danny wants him out and they can convince the owner like, yes, sign off on this, then I think it gets move like next offseason at the earliest. But, but they are going to try to like placate them and cater to him and do whatever they want or whatever they can to make him happy to stay there long term. It’s just look, we did this with with Gordon Hayward in Salt Lake City, where for a year or two years everyone was telling him, hey, Gordon wants to leave. He wants to go play for Brad Stevens. And this is the case and no one in Salt Lake City believed it. Now I’m not saying that it definitely happens again, but when all of the outside noise is Donovan doesn’t want to be there, he wants to be in York or he wants to be somewhere else. Look, eventually that noise gets so loud that something has to happen. So, I mean, maybe we learn from Gordon Hayward or, I don’t know.


Jason Concepcion: He is building his quote unquote dream home in Greenwich, Connecticut, right now, where he is from.


Zach Harper Oh. Isn’t that wierd we know that? Isn’t it wierd we know where players live and where heir dream homes are? Like it’s.


Jason Concepcion: It is wierd. It’s absolutely bizarre that we know that.


Zach Harper Yeah.


Jason Concepcion: Speaking of the Jazz, the price paid for Rudy Gobert, set the market to an extent. And of course one of the, one of the big stories going on right now is the status of the Brooklyn Nets, what’s happening with Kyrie, what’s happening with Kevin Durant. Both of them are looking for ways out, it seems. But now that it has has Rudy’s deal at all given it appears to me from the outside looking in that Rudy’s deal gave the Nets a way to pump the brakes a little bit and say, well, I mean, you know, we got to get more than than the Jazz got for Gobert, right? We’re talking about Kevin fucking Durant. And really that is just a way for them to take some of the heat off of this and see if they can convince Kevin to stay. What is your read of the situation going on right now?


Zach Harper Yeah, I mean, I think Kevin has done this because he didn’t like the way Kyrie was handled right, with the contract negotiations. And and so I think, you know, you request a trade and gives it directly to Joe Tsai. And it’s kind of a message of like Joe Tsai, the one that didn’t want to give Kyrie any money long term, which also understandable. Dude’s never around. Like if you told me, you know if you told me tomorrow, he’s not only retired, but he has created his own youth league. That is going to be the feeder system into the G League or the Chinese basketball league or whatever. Like I would be like, Yeah, I like that doesn’t sound crazy to me when it comes to the Kyrie Irving. Like I think anything is possible with him. But I think the it’s funny because like the Jrue Holiday trade is really what threw everything out of whack a couple of years ago when he went for a 4 first and I think there’s a pick swap in there or something. And so then it was when when James Harden went to the Nets for for that deal, it was like, okay, you know, it wasn’t that much more of a Jrue Holiday, but this is kind of what it sets the market as. And then Gobert goes for what he goes for. And it wouldn’t shock me if the Nets were like, can we can we alter the system this one time? Can we like because there’s only so many that you can only trade like for first round picks in the future because you can’t trade consecutive years, right? So and you can only trade like within the next eight years. Like I couldn’t send like 20, 51st round pick. Like it just doesn’t work that way and then you can do pick swaps, but that’s really it. And then they’re like, Oh yeah, we want a couple of young All-Stars. Some under the age of 25, it’s like, who has that? Who out that? Like, Yeah, New Orleans has it. They’re not going to New Orleans like like. But that’s really like there’s only so many that so many things that can be put together here. And you still have to have all the contracts that match Kevin Durant’s deal. At the same time, you looking at  Kyrie like there’s like we’re not trading him anywhere with the Lakers, but we are going to fleece the Lakers because we know just how desperate they are. And so there’s a standoff with that. I think you could convince KD to stick around for a year, play with Kyrie for a year, see what happens. Let’s just see if you if your mind changes. But if you trade Kyrie, unless it’s a return that isn’t Russell Westbrook and Taylor Horton-Tucker and  it’s some first round picks. If it’s something more along the lines of what, like where they can show him. Look, we definitely got better as a team. This is where you want to be. I just don’t know how. I don’t know how to navigate that. Like, I think I think they’ve got a screwed themselves over for a second time.


Jamel Johnson: God. How do we get Russ to Brooklyn? US? We need to figure out how to get Russ to Brooklyn today. Come on.


Zach Harper There are two things that I’ve wanted so much is one, for Russ to either find his way back to a Kevin Durant team as Kevin Durant’s trying to get his way out of it. Or, for Russ to end up on the same team as Rudy Gobert because he fuckin hates Rudy Gobert like he hates Rudy Gobert more than any player hates anybody.


Jason Concepcion: You mentioned the Jrue holiday is a good is a good example of it of a thing that seems to be happening right now, which is a devaluation among teams of draft picks. There’s a ton of teams right now that just are giving them up that don’t have their own draft picks for the next couple of years. It seems like executives have made the decision that for whatever reason, despite the fact that if you look at the NBA finals and the playoffs, the teams that have been drafting and developing their players, the teams that are succeeding right now that execs are just like it doesn’t matter that much. What’s going on there with with teams giving up their draft picks?


Zach Harper Yeah, I think I just think you’re seeing it go a different way than it had been. This is not going to be an anti-analytics thing because I do appreciate analytics. I think they have a real spot, but I do think there was a point where it was like, Oh, you can’t even give up a second round pick. Second round picks up so much value because there’s so, so much lower cost to get on a stick, blah, blah, blah. Right. And, and so I think there was an overvaluation that and at a certain point, teams just thought. Look, we can trade these guys eventually and get our picks back if we need to, which I think is the right way to go. I think if you have a chance to get better to the point where you can win a championship or make a trade that keeps your best player in town, I think you should absolutely do that every single time. Like, yeah, the first round picks could turn out to be anything that that is on your team right now. But you have those guys on your team, like if you are the Bucks and you are a Jrue Holiday away from keeping Giannis and competing for a championship and obviously eventually winning it, who gives a fuck about those 4 first round picks? Why? Why would those ever matter? Like you can go get them or just go sign some people. A low cost situations where where you you can like yeah we can keep Bobby Portis at under market value for a year or two because he wants to stay here because we became a championship. Like I do think there was a devaluation of winning for a little bit. And then even though you’re right, like where a lot of these teams are winning this based off the guys they drafted, there are still lots of situations where you need to go add guys by a trade by free agency and you do that often with with draft picks.


Jamel Johnson: Well, I got one more hold on is I know you’ve been laid up in the room all day, but have you seen the Summer League ring up close? Is it real metal?


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, it’s. Yeah. Well, what is it? What is the substance of that?


Zach Harper So now, unfortunately, I didn’t get to hold it, but I did see it up close. And let me tell you, there’s not a fucking chance this makes it out of a hotel like this is going to be something. There’s going to be hundreds of maid service and room service employees around Las Vegas who end up with these rings. There is not a chance anybody is going to want this.


Jason Concepcion: Did you hear the ring like touch something else? Like, did somebody put it down on like wood or like a tabletop? Did you get to hear what the set like give us some idea of did it seem like it had some weight to it? What did it was there any discoloration in the skin after somebody handled it? Like what?


Jamel Johnson: I heard it made Becky Heyman’s fingers green.


Zach Harper No, look, I’m not saying this is going to be a real deep ball, but I’m not saying Jim Diamond from Saved by the Bell episode where he says Brass Rings is the guy who sold it to the NBA. But I just know it was someone who looked a lot like how Jim Jim Diamond would look 45 years later. Okay. Like, it just it was an old, greasy, overly tanned man. And he had a case of these things and he had a he had a few in his coat lining where he opened them up, say, hey, NBA, y’all want some rings? I got some rings for you.


Jamel Johnson: My guy, Rhinestone, Ronnie came by and held him down.


Zach Harper It didn’t. But unfortunately, I didn’t hear the weight of it. I didn’t get to feel the weight of it, but I just I saw it in someone’s hand and I thought, nah, this isn’t this isn’t a thing? Also it shouldn’t be a thing. Stop it. It should not be used for, like, division champs or like or the All-Star team or what. No, get out of here. That’s so, such a dumb idea.


Jason Concepcion: One of the greatest things I’ve ever seen in my life was many years ago now, when Nate Robinson’s jersey was retired at Summer League in the Thomas and Mack. And what occurred there was literally like a janitor came out with a fold up ladder.


Zach Harper Yeah.


Jason Concepcion: And and some of the Knicks training staff was like, hey, put this guy’s jersey up on the wall. And then they put it up with, like, nails or thumbtacks or something like on the paneling wall. Just nailed it up there. One of the that’s to me what Summer League is. Stop trying to make it cool. It’s it’s a funny, weird summer camp for athletes.


Zach Harper When they when they put up Nate Robinson’s jersey on the wall, it was with less care than what I put on my Tupac jersey with that double sticky stuff in my dorm room. Right. Like that. That’s the that like I put way more thought into my Tupac poster and my Vince Carter poster of my dorm room that I did any of that any any jersey retirement in the Thomas and Mack Center.


Jason Concepcion: And any players stand out to you? It’s.


Zach Harper Paolo, Paolo Banchero was really good yeah he’s really damn good like he is he’s going to be absolutely exceptional like the magic have been looking for a number one dude. Within a year, he’ll be the number one dude easily and he’s just like, he’s huge. He’s a massive like he’s a legit 6’10. He’s got to be  240. I mean, he’s he’s a big dude. He made Jabbar like because I was looking at Jabari Smith Junior I walked by, I was like, oh man, he’s got like he’s bigger than I thought he was like, okay. And then I saw him standing next to Pablo. I was like, Oh, shit, he looks small next. Paolo’s like, like Paolo is a big dude. Chet’s just weird, like, Chet Holmgren like, I’m not in. Yeah. Well, some people some people would say, like, he’s given he’s given skinny guys hope. And I’ve be like, get out of here with this. Like, I’m not I’m not in on this. Like, he might be good, but the fact that Kenneth Lofton Junior gave him the business in in Salt Lake City Summer League like what gave me all the life because I love Kenneth Lofton Junior that kid the fact that he just absolutely bodied Chet Holmgren out of the gym was great to me.


Jason Concepcion: Too much too much dip on Chet Holmgren’s chip for me. Like you’re a rookie. This is like, I get it. I get being like I am a fan of a team that had a fucking parade after the third game of the season. So I get being excited about something that doesn’t matter. But Chet is a little too swaggy for me in Summer League right now. A little. It’s just a little too much dip on the chip for me, that’s all. That’s all I’m saying.


Jamel Johnson: He’s the thinnest man in league history. He needs at least one year of weights. But I mean, hey, that’s what it is now. Too many. The problem with Summer League is too many games are on TV now that we get to see it. If a guy or if a guy scores 20, you have no choice but to think he’s the next Detlef Schrempf.


Jason Concepcion: With six blocks.


Zach Harper Well, also.


Jason Concepcion: Seven fouls.


Zach Harper Hold up. I have a real issue with this six blocks thing because they went out there and said this was a record. There’s no way it’s a record. Okay. There’s no way. We’ve had so many guys have 10,000 a game and I just don’t believe that six blocks was the record in any Summer League. But I was they just made it up. So who’s got to who’s going be who’s going to check this fact? No one. I’m not going to do it and I don’t belive it.


Jason Concepcion: They don’t keep this like the stats are not kept. I will tell you right now, you’ve been there like every quarter they come out with a printout of all the stuff that happened in there. But that doesn’t get put into like a database or anything.


Zach Harper No.


Jason Concepcion: Like there is. You can’t look for Summer League stats in particular, like steals, blocks, all that stuff they point, you’ll find, because it’s reported on, but you’re not going to find anything else.


Zach Harper They take those printouts, they take those printouts and they fold them into a championship ring and then hand them to the players at the end of Summer League. That’s what they do.


Jason Concepcion: He is Zach Harper of the Athletic, live from NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. Zach, thank you for joining us. Feel better.


Zach Harper Thanks, guys. I’m going to go vomit now.


Jason Concepcion: Wimbledon is among the most prestigious sporting events in the entire world. Since 1877, the All England Club in Wimbledon has been hosting the event and champions throughout those years of etched their names into the storied trophy of the Wimbledon All England Club. To join us now and tell us, recap the the championship weekend from The Guardian, Tumaini Carayol, sports reporter for The Guardian, is going to take us through the events of Wimbledon 2022. Tumaini, thank you for joining Takeline. How are you? How was your Wimbledon?


Tumaini Carayol Good, thanks. Thanks. Thanks for having me on. My brain is fried, but I’ll try my best.


Jason Concepcion: So Novak versus Kyrgios, it was a matchup of one of, you know, one of the greatest champions ever in history in the men’s game, Novak Djokovic. Unvaccinated. And we’ll tell you about it against a player who this is his first time in it in a Wimbledon final in Nick Kyrgios from Australia and also a player who’s been broke through as a teenager. Showing lots of promise has struggled at times to deliver on that promise. But who played a spirited match against an all time great but then lost. Your thoughts on the men’s final and everything around it.


Tumaini Carayol Yeah, I guess firstly it’s just that the circumstances around it are weird because you know, I mean, you mentioned unvaccinated Djokovic and for for reasons of his kind of undoing, he came into this tournament under even more pressure than normal. You know, he was deported from Australia,you know. Yes, that was the thing that happened. Yes. Still crazy. And then when he struggled after that, you know, with his form and he lost, he, I guess, had the misfortune of drawing Rafa Nadal, Roland Garros in the quarter final and lost there. And we still he still, as things currently stand is not able to enter the states because he’s not vaccinated and he is not able to enter Australia right now because when you’re when your visa was canceled, you’re not allowed to apply for another visa for three years. So basically this Wimbledon was his year in a nutshell. If he not if he didn’t win it, it was the what you know, essentially the worst year of his career. And that’s, you know, added pressure. And then you had, you know, Kyrgios, who, as he said many times afterwards, like it wasn’t supposed to be. It’s just it was just weird to see him in the Grand Slam final playing for one of the biggest trophies in the world. When you know, a lot  of how he carries himself. What’s done in the past was not very not seriously. He got by on his talent.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah.


Tumaini Carayol But and, you know, was obviously was open about not being as committed as, you know, other players.


Jason Concepcion: He will tell you about it. Yeah. He’ll he’ll just be like, I don’t want to play anymore. I don’t want to play this tournament. I’m tired. I don’t want to play, you know, has disappeared at times. You’ve I mean, this is a guy who will dump entire games because he’s just like in a mood during the match will just be like well now I’m going to play with with my off hand or I’m going to hit balls behind my back and just not be serious about it. Very, very interesting fellow. It came to light, you know, over the course of the of the tournament that he’s facing charges back in Australia due to a domestic assault case that has been levied against him. He was talked about how that affected his ability to to focus, which is always been an issue. What’s what is the what he’s been one of the biggest mysteries in men’s tennis for as long as he’s been on the scene. Give us a sense of Kyrgios as a player. What is your read on him?


Tumaini Carayol I mean, as a player, he’s he’s incredibly talented. Obviously, he has one of the best serves of all time, I think, and can just, you know, get by on. You know, he does things like he doesn’t even have to practice much. You know, he can walk up and and beat a lot of very good players because of his serve. He has amazing like hand skills. So that’s why he does all the kind of crazy trick shots and slices and joke shots and angles and things that a lot of players can’t do if they practice that now for the next 100 years. So he has all of that talent, but yet, like throughout his career, he’s just not been motivated, you know, hasn’t he hasn’t wanted it. Well, he says that he doesn’t love tennis, for one, and he is a basketball fan. You know.


Jason Concepcion: He loves the NBA.


Tumaini Carayol You know, he’d much rather be playing basketball with boys and in Canberra. And yeah, and he also just he had this week he’s talked about issues he had in which he, you know, he played Rafael Nadal a couple of years ago at Wimbledon and he said he was out drinking until like 4a.m. before playing one of the best players of all time. You know, so that’s been kind of what as far as a tennis player that’s what’s held him back. But and it seems like this year for whatever for some reason, he, you know, whatever reason, he seems to be in a better place. And so he was, you know, just going about his business quietly, you know, during the tournament, you know, not going. You wouldn’t like go to like a pub called the Dog & Fox right near Wimbledon and any other year, you’d walk up there after the, after the tennis and you’d see him with, you know, drinking with some random, you know, 50 year olds or something. I don’t know, just but but this time he was just at home, you know, with his girlfriend, with his family, just being a professional athlete. And the result is that he’s he was in the Wimbledon final.


Jamel Johnson: I mean, he still had to pull I think he is the Joker. Like, I know Joker’s Joker, but Kyrgios has the real joker antics. He’s really crazy, like the scissor pass match. I feel like that was where he was like, All right, I have to, like, just be unhinged. The only way I’m going to beat this guy is if I am a maniac. He’s spitting on people. And then you see a then they cut to a video of him talking about the importance of mental health.


Tumaini Carayol Yeah. You know.


Jamel Johnson: It’s unreal.


Tumaini Carayol But but. But it’s the best match with them. The most, like, chaotic. One of the most chaotic sports event I’ve seen. You know, he like. Yeah, as you said, I think he knows that his antics and him, you know, screaming at the umpire and, you know, shouting at anyone who listens like that, disrupts opponents and a completely Tsitsipas, pro park player. One of the best game players around. And like Kyrgios just broke his brain basically, you know in the early on in the match to Tsitsipas well after it went to one set or after he bought into the crowd and it just I think it missed someone hit the back fence and maybe like cut someone on the shoulder or something, the ball. And if you hit someone, you get defaulted. They’re supposed to get defaulted anyway. And Kyrgios was adamant that it hit someone and spent the whole match trying to get trying to spend the between sets, trying to get him defaulted and then Tsitipas lost his head and spent the next set trying to hit him with the ball like cracking the ball at him, you know, it just. And then. And then after. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. It crazy. I’ve never seen anything like it. And then afterwards, in the press conference, press conferences, Tsitipas called him a bully and said, you know, he’s just I think he I think got bullied when he was younger, so now he bullies everyone. We should you know, everyone should get together and put a stop to his behavior. And then Kyrgios called him soft and said, but, you know, he has no friends. So it was like completely unhinged.


Jason Concepcion: But I’ll just I’ll just say this. Like, obviously, Kyrgios again is facing pending assault allegations and and that is awful. It’s terrible. And it should be. And we should, you know, decry that to the to the furthest extent that we can. In a vacuum, Tsitsipas-Kyrgios. This is what tennis needs. I’m dead serious. Like dudes who don’t like each other, players that don’t like each other, where there’s just a lot of stuff going on and they are competing intensely. Tennis is in a sad state here in America, and I think it would be a lot more popular if if if players were like trying to hit each other with the ball and and arguing throughout stoppages of play that the other player needs to be defaulted and and ejected from the game. That was I enjoyed it. I did enjoy that.


Tumaini Carayol Yeah. I mean, I kind of like I, I was entertained too. Yeah. I guess I get the argument and like, I guess like we thought we were that to some extent. I just think that if you’re a professional athlete and you’re a serious, serious person, that’s probably not how you’re going to be. You know, of the reason why most people aren’t like that is because they want to win. And I think that’s yeah, even however crazy you are, if your goal is to be winning the tournament, then you’ll be trying to hit the ball in the court, not trying to hit someone, you know, knock someone out. So, yeah.


Jason Concepcion: Let’s let’s move from the from the men’s final between an anti-vaxxer and a man facing charges to the to the women’s championship where Elena Rybakina, Rybakina excuse me, where Elena Rybakina representing Kazakhstan, but but formerly from Russia, won the crown over Ons Jabeur the first Arab woman to play in a in a in a final. Your thoughts on that match. And. And then we can talk about I guess we should talk about Rybakina and her relationship to the Russian Federation, of which is pretty interesting.


Tumaini Carayol Yeah. So the match, I mean, it was 2 first time, you know, Grand Slam finalist, you know, playing against each other at Wimbledon, of all places. So they’re both, you know, it was a lot of nerves and that was kind of what was going to decide it. And and in the end Rybakina, it was like a big, you know, she’s a huge server, huge power and just kind of got herself together and it took her off the court, you know, in the end. But I don’t know if that was, to me, the best story of the tournament, just in terms of when, you know, she’s you know, she’s the first Arab woman to ever make a semifinal.  The first Arab person and the first African. You know, she’s from Tunisia, the first African woman to do it. And she just it’s not just, you know, it’s the history making that she’s done, you know, coming from a country that isn’t represented at the top of the sport. And also having that she has a whole team around her is just this Tunisians as well. It’s not you know, she didn’t go to some American academy with a scholarship. So, you know, there’s all that. And she’s just a cool person. But she’s one of the that the nicest people just the coolest. Like if you see her around, you know, you can just have a a regular conversation with her and yeah, just I think she just she’s also like, funnily enough, like she’s similar to Kyrgios and that they’re both just mad talented and and do all these, you know, just can do just have great crazy have magic in their hands basically. She can play all these crazy top shots and, you know, trick shots and can do anything on the court. And she really kind of just made any time she goes on the court, if fans don’t know her,  she’ll win them over and they’ll be trained for her by the end, she just so yeah. Just cool to see her just have her moment and just get to the stage and kind of put herself in the position to do it again. It was also cool that, you know, before this tournament, she played doubles with Serena Williams in Eastbourne women tournament. And I don’t know, it was cool that, you know, Serena was coming back and that she was the person who Serena, you know, saw and picked and wanted to play with. And that was something that was about her. And that probably helped the confidence even more just to see who’s who’s watching and who’s impressed by her. And yeah, yeah, she’s she’s a cool, cool, cool, cool person.


Jamel Johnson: Um, a lot of big names was out this year speaking to Serena, you know, out in the first round, Nadal with the big torn abdomen. He’s getting up there in age. Does this feel like this is like the beginning of the changing of the guard? I mean, I know Djokovic won and it’s Djokovic, but it seems like we’re about to see a whole new cast of characters.


Tumaini Carayol Yeah. I mean, is this true on the women’s side. I think I mean, Serena, you know, she she came back and she hadn’t played the first time she played in a year. And I think the big question is what is is this might be the last Wimbledon she plays. And I mean, she’s 40 years old now. So like, I think, you know, my take away from Wimbledon with Serena was that she doesn’t really know. You know, she has all these all the stuff outside of tennis now. She has this venture capitalist company, Serena Ventures and all of this other stuff. And so I think she doesn’t know if she’s ready to or willing to commit and do what it takes, you know, to play the matches, the tournaments, to be a top player again. And and so we’ll see we’ll see what happens in the face of the U.S. Open, because it seemed that she’s committed to do that. But, you know, aside from that, I think tennis is kind of women’s tennis is kind of it’s in a weird place. It’s kind of moved on from her since the world number one egos Sean Booth. She lost early in Wimbledon but she had won 37 matches in a row which is of mad to watch one of the French opens and then with the men I mean if it feels like there should be some sort of changing of the guard. But, you know, as it stands, we have Rafael and Djokovic. Nadal and Djokovic still just, you know, just splitting titles between them. You know, both of them are on beat. You know, the only person the only person who’s beaten one of them was Nadal beating Djokovic against them with without beating Djokovic at the French Open in Grand Slams this year. So they’re just I don’t know. They’re just they’re just no better than the rest of them. And the other players is not good enough so far.


Jamel Johnson: So you expect Nadal to make a full recovery? He’s just he’s going to come back and be ready?


Tumaini Carayol Yeah, yeah. So so his his injury seems like it was quite it wasn’t a bad one. He said he’ll be back training within a week. It just, you know, without serving and then he’ll he’ll be back in the U.S. for the states. And I didn’t actually talk about, you know, Kyrgios-Djokvic was kind of like the actual match, which was Kyrgios played really well, I thought. Like he started. It was unbelievable at the beginning. And, you know, no, nerves, none of that, you know, for first time final. But Djokovic just like it just smothered him in the end, just took over and was just he was I was really impressed with Djokovic, just how well he played and that just better tennis players, they know what’s the best of five sets. Why it’s even harder to beat them. You know, they’ll drop a set and be like, you know, they beat me that for win three sets against me. And most players can’t do that. So until then, until there’s any hint that their, you know, the level is falling, I think it’s going to be very hard for other players to beat beat them consistently.


Jason Concepcion: Nadal did manage to beat American Taylor Fritz despite the abdominal injury. Taylor Fritz, kind of encapsulating 15 years of American men’s tennis in one player in that he’s got a big serve and the rest of it is like, whatever. But I wonder if you could. I’ve been watching with some interest the English press responds to Taylor Fritz’s girlfriend, Morgan, who is was on social media a lot, as she often is talking about, among other things, reasons why tennis is not popular, which I thought was great. While you’re while your partner is playing in Wimbledon, to  be like, Hey, I know tennis isn’t really popular, but here’s why. It’s kind of like got social media posts like that. Could you explain to us, like the the English press fascination with Taylor Fritz and his relationship?


Tumaini Carayol I I’m not sure. I think I would I think the with the thing about English press, especially here when you have news news journalists is that they just they’ll find something and fixate on that completely.


Jason Concepcion: And it was like, yeah, I mean, they kept like cutting to her and like, talking about it. It was crazy.


Tumaini Carayol Yeah. Well, I mean, I don’t I personally I don’t I don’t think she was wrong. You know, there’s a lot of reasons why why tennis isn’t like doesn’t cut through and isn’t a popular mainstream sport. But I’m not sure why why they’re so with to be on the know because I’m not because I’m not.


Jamel Johnson: I feel like in America we just need to see an American person. That’s our issue. U.S. Open coming up next.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah.


Jamel Johnson: Is there any American player who you’d like to make a deep run? I’m a big Francis Tiafoe guy. Personally, what’s it going to take for him to get over the hump? Do you have any any hopes for any Americans at the U.S. Open?


Tumaini Carayol So with the men but the strange thing is that a lot of them did. Like there was a good tournament for them. Quite a lot of them made the fourth round of maybe like six, seven, eight. But, you know, standards are so much lower now than when you were when Americans were dominant in tennis. I think, Francis, I love him as a as a player. He’s he’s like he’s so fun. He’s charismatic. He’s creative and he had a good run at the U.S. Open last year. I don’t you know, I think he can have another run. I don’t know. I don’t see him winning a title or something like that. But, you know, he’s he’s he’s he’s a talented player and loves to love the stage , loves  the show. So in terms of men, I think they have like a bunch of good players who are like between age 20 to 25 or something. And a few of them could break through, of course, I mean, but I mean, at the moment everything’s just. Again, until I see otherwise, it’s it’s Nadal Djokovic. Maybe Daniil Medvedev, who is a Russian number one who was obviously banned from Wimbledon but will be back.


Jamel Johnson: Yep.


Tumaini Carayol In the U.S. Open and defending champion. Yeah.


Jason Concepcion: Joker going to be allowed in the country. Your thoughts? Do you think he’s actually going to be able to play in the U.S. Open?


Tumaini Carayol I mean, you guys know more than me. I mean.


Jason Concepcion: It just seems no. I’m going to just say no, I think it’s a no for me. But I’m just wondering, you know, like because he has he obviously been talking about it with some with some act, with some obvious acrimony about the about the various vaccination rules and COVID protocols that exist in the entire globe where he does, you know, end up competing.


Tumaini Carayol Yeah. So, I mean, I don’t think that’s going to be a there’s any chance of any kind of exemption or anything like that. It will have to be that, you know, the US decides to allow all visitors, you know, unvaccinated visitors into the country. And I, to be honest, I don’t know what else, some, some Americans, you know, some American journalists I’ve been talking to, etc.. It seems like things are moving in that direction. I don’t know that that might change. No, you don’t. You don’t.


Jason Concepcion: I mean, the mayor of New York, Eric Adams, who I don’t know if you’re aware of, is a wild card type of guy who has been much more interested in like partying at clubs and like riding sea doos like around the bay in Brooklyn and not so much in running the city. But he is also been the the type of guy who might just be like, hey, is there any way we can get Novak in the country despite not having any kind of power to change those rules? So you never know in that from that regard. But, yeah, I don’t think that there’s. It would be a huge issue, I think, if they offered him an exemption because why you know, it would just set a terrible precedent.


Tumaini Carayol Yeah. And I mean, he’s he he’s been through that. It didn’t end well for him. I don’t think he used to be. I mean, I don’t I don’t think he should be even looking for that if the rules change. Usually go. I mean, he could also just get vaccinated. But if the rule changes.


Jason Concepcion: He said very loudly after the game, after the final that he’s not going to do that. So. Yeah. Tumaini, thank you so much for joining us. Have a great day. Really appreciate it. Thank you. That’s it for us. Follow and subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Jamel, what do you have cooking?


Jamel Johnson: Man, I got all types stuff. I got to roast in the oven right now. Oh, and I’m in Portland. Yeah, I’m in Portland. On the 28th, Faded Portland shout out to the Faded guys. Mike Malloy, the general.


Jason Concepcion: Folks, See you next week. Goodbye. Takeline is a Crooked Media production. The show is produced by Ryan Wallerson and Zuri Irvin. Our executive producers are myself and Sandy Girard. Engineering, editing and sound design by the great Sarah Dubalaska and the folks at Chapter Four. Our theme music is produced by Brian Vasquez. Mia Kelman is on the Zoom for vibes, and the vibes are fantastic all the time.


Zayd Ayres Dorn: In the 1970s, a young group of violent revolutionaries joined forces to create the Weather Underground organization. A group of radicals who brawled with police officers and bombed the Pentagon, all in the name of ending racism. Hi, I’m Zayd Ayres Dorn, host of Crooked Media. His new podcast, Mother Country Radicals, which dives into the true story of how my parents and their friends went from peace-loving activists to toppling the FBI’s most wanted list. New episodes of Mother Country Radicals are out every Thursday. Listen and subscribe wherever you get podcasts.