In This Episode
Game six of the NBA Finals in Boston may be the final game of the season. The Golden State Warriors are taking a 3-2 back to the east coast, and need just one more victory to claim the NBA title. Dan Devine, who is covering the NBA Finals for the Ringer, joins Jason Concepcion to recap the Warriors 104-94 home win in game 5 and what Golden State has to do to close out the series, as well as what the Boston Celtics have to do to see a game seven. Then, Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street journal returns to Takeline to break down the budding golf war between the PGA tour and the Saudi backed LIV circuit. But first, Takeline producers Zuri Irvin and Ryan Wallerson join Jason to give their knee jerk reactions to game five in a conversation recorded moments after the final whistle.
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Ryan Wallerson Honestly if I’m Wiggins and I dropped 40 A.D garden I call an Uber like right after they give the trophy and when the commissioner like looks to give me the MVP and I’m not there he’ll give it to Steph instead and all will be well.
Jason Concepcion If Andrew Wiggins scores 100 points in game seven, you have to still give it to Steph Curry I. Hello and welcome to Takeline. We’ve got another great show lined up for you. As Game six of the NBA Finals in Boston looms, the Golden State Warriors up three two after their ten point victory back in the Bay Area to help us pack everything going on with the Celtics and the Warriors. But my former colleague, Dan Devine of The Ringer will join us. We will also be joined by the incredibly smart Andrew Beaton of The Wall Street Journal, who’s going to help us figure out what’s going on with Saudi sovereign wealth fund backed Golf League, Liv. Which has thrown the entire golf ecosystem into a tizzy and driven my mom actually insane. But first. I want to top it up with super producers Zuri and Ryan to talk about Game five. Welcome to Takeline. It is moments after game, the pivotal game five. Boston Celtics have fallen to the resurgent Golden State Warriors 104 to 94. Steph Curry, absolutely ice cold in the game, 0 for 9 from three, seven of 22 from the field, doesn’t matter. Golden State wins by ten. Jayson Tatum started absolutely dead cold, couldn’t throw the ball into the ocean, couldn’t throw the ball outside of a door, couldn’t do anything. Then came on. But in the end, it’s that old. It’s that turnover number. You’ve heard the stat by now when the when the Celtics notch less than I think it’s 16 turnovers they’re 13 and two and they do more than that that’s when they lose and they lost tonight with a team total of 18 turnovers and once again that was the that was the Achilles heel for the Boston Celtics to help me unpack this. Zuri and Ryan. Zuri and Ryan. When Jayson Tatum started 0 for 12, and he’s -13 in the game. Do we? Now, he did end with 27 points. You know, shot 50% from from the field. Ten rebounds did have four turnovers. But at what point did. We were talking earlier in the in the playoffs that Jayson Tatum is taking the leap. Many were saying this. Many were noticing that I wasn’t saying it because I don’t like the Celtics, but I was acknowledging it inside, deep inside. At what point do we start wondering? Is is this moment a little too big for Tatum?
Zuri Irvin No. I mean, he’s 24 years old. I don’t know what you’re doing at 24. I didn’t have all my stuff together. Maybe at 26. At 28. If he does this again, then we can come down hard on him. And maybe there’s also a mulligan for your first finals.
Ryan Wallerson But that was going to be my point that the the Tatum supporters, the Boston Celtics faithful, you know, our dear editor, Spence, whose in his feelings right now, they all believe that or will tell you that even if the Celtics lose this series, this was their first go at it. You know, you would love to just hit your first finals and be amazing, like the Spurs or the Warriors. But, you know, for most people that or for most teams, it’s not the way it works if you lose before you win. LeBron’s Heat lost before they won. Yeah. I don’t know. I feel like there’s still a lot of space for Jason Tatum’s potential and for his supporters to defend him. I do think he had a lot of good moments in this postseason. And, you know, I don’t want to be a prisoner of the moment and say that, you know, a bad game six or bad game seven, bad game five can undo all of that. Let me let me not assume bad games on him. He’s had he’s had a couple he’s been inconsistent in these finals. But the finals are a big platform. He’s been really, really good to get the Celtics to this point. But maybe he’s going to take lessons away from this experience that will make him even more dangerous in the future, as you say, he’s only 24 years old.
Zuri Irvin Well, I called it I was just going with from friends before Game four, and I just thought that he was going to blow it that game. I think that he’s kind of a front runner. I think this Celtics team is kind of a front running team. I think that we were talking in free for all about what they’re lacking. I think they need a ball handler to just kind of set things up on offense. I don’t think Marcus Smart, I mean, we know he’s not that type of player. But at the same time as we’re discussing this, it sounds like we’re making excuses for Jayson Tatum, you know, amidst calling him, you know, the next upper echelon player in the league. And it’s like, well, if he is that, then maybe.
Ryan Wallerson We were talking about him dominating KD on both sides. We talked about him out helping the Celtics outlast the Superman Giannis. He got past Jimmy’s defense but Andrew Wiggins is eating his lunch man.
Jason Concepcion I think, you know Zuri, I think you’re on to something about that with the with the Celtics kind of being a front running team, obviously a good defensive juggernaut. But they started the season shaky and a lot of that had to do with the fact that they don’t have a you know, their their best natural playmaker is Marcus Smart, who can be a little wild. He’s part of the reason that they are a team that makes bad decisions on offense. Marcus Smart is a big part of that, although he did rein it in and that was a large part of their success. But. They’re a team. Once they kind of flipped a switch in January, they were either blowing teams out or they were losing like they were. Whenever they have to, whenever it’s close or they have to come back, that requires them to make as many high efficiency, good quality decisions and as few bad decisions as possible. And they’re just not a team that can do that. They they just press when it’s close or they’re behind. Now it’s, you know, Jaylen Brown will, you know, will decide, well, I’ve got to make something happen. So I’m going to drive into like two guys and that’s going to be a turnover. I’m going to try and force up a shot over guys or Al Horford’s like I’m going to get right under the rim and then I’m going to get swallowed up and I’m going to try and throw it out to one of our three point shooters or Jayson Tatum will decide like, I’m going to back you down and I’m going to take this contested two. And it just kind of like. They stop doing the things that got them there. And I think it just makes them a team that’s tough to rely on when it’s close and in when it’s in crunch time. And they just they just there is an X factor that the Warriors have in an experience that you’re really feeling right now because the Warriors just kind of never get rattled by the moment. They never seem to. They never seem to believe that they can. They know when they’re behind, how they can come back. Like if you look at the game one comeback that the Celtics made, it was, it was really just like Al Horford was open, which is what the Warriors had designed their defense to do. And he just hit like every shot that was available to him is that’s like not a repeatable thing. The Warriors, when they’re behind like have lineups, plays different things that they can run out there. And you feel like, okay, I’ve seen this before, I know how they can do it. The Celtics, because they had so rarely come back or have to come back, don’t really have that muscle memory yet. And I think that you’re just seeing that weakness get exposed right now, at the biggest moment. I think that the Celtics were the better team, like on paper. I think they’re the better team from top to bottom. I just think the Warriors have that wealth of playoff experience having been here. That’s the difference right now.
Ryan Wallerson But you know, the crazy thing is, is that the playoff experience that you speak of is working for the Warriors twofold, because obviously you have the guys with the rings names we know, but then also like the play of Wiggins and Poole, these kids who are also here for the first time just like Tatum and you know same age comparable but playing like as like they’ve been in every finals game alongside Draymond and the Splash Brothers. Like the the pool play where he forces that offensive foul on Marcus Smart.
Jason Concepcion Well a foul?
Ryan Wallerson Obviously he’s acting obviously he’s acting but like I mean no, no, it’s not but he but he’s taking advantage of the moment and then he comes back with the three that’s you know, that continues the I think that made it a ten oh run when Golden State pulled away. It’s just these moments.
Jason Concepcion It’s different, though, when you can be when you can play free. You know, the thing about Poole is like nobody’s asking him to go out there and do his thing for like 35 minutes or so, you know, like, what did he play in this game? 14 minutes. He did his damage in 14 minutes in this game. And that’s the thing is he comes out here, pushed the pace. Make the right decision, don’t get burned too much on defense and just go out there and fucking score. Like that’s what you’re here to do. You’re not here to be the guy.
Zuri Ivin Well it seems like he thinks he’s the guy every time he’s near a basketball.
Jason Concepcion No, but they put him they put him in these very, very constricted situations in which he can be the guy for a four minute, five minute stretch, whereas Tatum and Brown, like, have to carry all this weight for the entire game. And I just think it’s a different. I just think it’s a different skillset. You know, it it hearkens back to the bus driver, bus passenger TNT conversation. But that’s kind of what it is, you know Wiggins. You know older than Brown and Tatum has been around the block but also like you know is playing really well right now. But let’s also acknowledge that he did suck for a long time and did suck initially upon coming to the Warriors, but now is getting it and is also benefiting from the fact that there’s all these other players on the court that are getting all this attention, all this spotlight, and he can thrive in that environment where there’s less pressure on him. But you’re right. Obviously, these guys are playing great. Let’s talk. Let’s let’s get our project’s predictions in. So obviously, again, it’s just turnovers. Like Warriors six turnovers to the Celtics, 18. That’s the game. That was the game. Potentially one more game left, maybe as many as two. What do we think? What what do we think happens? It feels like at this point, like, listen, everybody. Everybody who is drawing breath right now knows it’s a game of turnovers for the Celtics, including the Boston Celtics and a Ime Udoka and the entire team and they can’t limit their turnovers. So clearly considering this game and the previous one. So where do we go from here? What what do we what do we think is going to happen?
Zuri Ivin In the minutia of Game six coming up? I think some Celtics role player is going to go off at home because they’re going to be comfortable.
Jason Concepcion Sam Hauser had let’s go.
Zuri Ivin Sam Hauser. Derrick White’s going to make a shot? I don’t know I think. I think maybe so. I think I think Boston probably has enough energy to take it at home. Also, I mean, I do want to talk about Robert Williams.
Jason Concepcion He’s been he’s been amazing. He’s I mean, yeah. Plus 11. The only starter in positive plus minus is been so important defensively obviously.
Zuri Ivin A menace and it seems like Golden State looks like a trap door when he’s when he’s in the paint. Also, he just seems like he’s going to be $100 million player fairly soon for like the Mavericks or the Magic or something like that. So I’m rooting for him, but it does seem like I don’t see Golden State losing two games in a row.
Ryan Wallerson Oh, we’re right on schedule for my pre finals prediction. I had Warriors in seven. I’m sticking to Warriors in seven.
Jason Concepcion Yeah, I also picked Warriors in seven and I think it will be Warriors in seven. I think that. I can see Boston winning Game six, but in one of these next two games, Boston is going to figure out again how to, how to, how to get the ball off of the Boston Celtics to the tune of 15, 16, 17 assists. And that will be that that will be the series that will be at the title.
Ryan Wallerson I’ll be honest with you, I think that Boston is going to show us exactly how they got here in Game six. And I think they might even come out and give us a competitive first half in Game seven. But I do not have any faith in their ability to execute in the fourth quarter of a Game seven against the Golden State Warriors. I think that Golden State, just on the strength of experience, is going to once we get there, we’re just going to see them earn that. We’re going to see one of the teams earn the championship. I’d be shocked if it was Boston. If Wiggins drops 40 on the road in Game six to close out the series? Would you?
Ryan Wallerson No. Honestly if I’m Wiggins and I drop 40 in in TD Garden I call an Uber, like right after they give the trophy and when the commissioner like looks to give me the MVP and I’m not there, he’ll give it to Steph instead and all will be well.
Jason Concepcion If Andrew Wiggins scores 100 points in Game seven, you have to still give it to Steph Curry. You actually have to do it. You can’t not do it. Up next, The Ringer’s Dan Devine.
Jason Concepcion Well, with the Celtics now on the brink of the ultimate disappointment, they want to have the NBA down 3-2, in the NBA finals to the Golden State Warriors. I decided that there would be nothing better than to have a completely unbiased conversation with one of my favorite ex-colleagues and Knick’s fan, Dan Devine. Dan, how are you?
Dan Devine Jason It’s pretty hard to do this with a heavy heart over the Celtics being one win away from elimination today. But I’m going to power through it and I’m going to try to just, you know, have a stiff upper lip about it.
Jason Concepcion How heavy is your head? And what do you make of. What do you make of the scene, the Celtics game that arguably is the better team on paper than the team that they’re going to beat tonight.
Dan Devine It’s almost like they’re two teams, right? It’s like there’s the defense, which is all world and constant, and then there’s the offense, which is like completely frenetic and changing constantly from one game to the next. When they don’t turn the ball over, they don’t lose. And when they do, they are awful. They they look like they they’ve barely played together, let alone play like 100 games together. And that’s really I mean, it’s the kind of thing that you wind up with, like Marcus Smart is a point guard, but he’s not that kind of point guard that settles everybody down. And I think you sort of see that where like Tatum’s not quite there as somebody that settles everybody down, Brown is not quite there. And as somebody that settles everybody down. And, you know, Brown said it last night after game, he said it after game five, like we were kind of looking for somebody to bail us out. And when you look around and I get the Spider-Man meme, everybody’s pointing at everybody else to do it. All of a sudden, you wind up like breaking 19 different possessions and losing a game that you definitely could have won.
Jason Concepcion You brought up something I think is important, which is the Celtics’ best three guys: Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart. Our turnover regime. Turnovers are very, very obvious and loud Achilles heel that everybody, including the Celtics, completely knows about. And one of the main formulations of the make up of this team, the DNA of this team is when everything breaks down. Jayson Tatum is the guy that helps us out. Kobe in that sense. But I think what we’re seeing is, you know, the strengths of the team are also baked into the weaknesses of the team. Is it possible that they can improve their turnover problem, which absolutely needs to be solved without either adding to or taking away from the scheme? For insance Marcus Smart for Titus or something like that? Like this is just me talking about him out of my ass and already driving this version of the Celtics. But is that something you know, in your experience? Teams have improved without personnel changes?
Dan Devine Well, I think before we go any further, we should note that it’s possible Jason Tatum is just doing sort of a Kobe tribute by shooting 24% in the fourth quarter. That that might be just an homage to his hero in the series. Yeah, but I mean, as far as the way the teams improve, as, you know, going from turnover prone to kind of more cautious, it’s it is difficult to see that happen with I mean young guys can get better at that over time but it’s not like Smart is 22 in his third year in the league like you kind of you are a leopard has its spots at a certain point. Ime Udoka has talked a lot about like it’s kind of just about how we space and if we space then our driving kick our driving lanes are great are drive and kick game is great we generate beautiful shots but like it’s you wonder if maybe in the second year of his sort of offensive system saying we really have to pay much more attention to the way that we don’t like cut into a drive or we don’t mess up and sort of clutter the paint that could kind of decongest things even more when they I mean, when they play more like four out of five out, whether it’s just Al Horford with Four Wings or just Robert Williams with four Wings, that really opens things up too in a lot of those driving lanes are much cleaner, so the reads are a lot simpler. I think some of it is Tatum and Brown are going to as you know, this is their first real first trip to the finals. They’re going to learn how to make some of those reads a little more cleanly, but it might need instead of two bigs all the time, which has been their defensive identity four Wings and one big, which then sort of creates some different, different alignments. Yeah. I mean all of which to say it’s not going to get better like right away. So they have to do a much better job of staying clean in the next game if they want to even have a chance to go to seven. And then we can worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.
Jason Concepcion You know, it’s an absolutely perplexing Celtics game. But on the other one hand, is historically great when you look at the underlying numbers post Miami alright. And on the other hand, you know, six, seven games to beat a Miami team that they probably should have beaten in six struggled against the Bucs team without its second best player. It’s kind of just who the Celtics team is so, you know, like incredible defensive juggernauts and it’s just going to boggle your mind on offense. And just your other point, you know, like this game is 24 young team, and you get open the first year but. You know, we all thought, okay, if we go to five finals, you know what I mean? Like if I am a Celtics fan, I’m kind, of I would be anxious for that improvement right now. It’s not really a question it’s just an observation and a willingness to tap into the fears of self-exam. But is it a feel for my personal journey in my life?
Dan Devine I appreciate that. Yeah, we all need our batteries. And this is a pretty sight, a pretty solid one using the anxiety dropping off like the Matrix. Yeah. I mean, I think it’s I think it’s it’s exactly. It’s a real concern. You know, you talk about like the Celtics have been a bad crunch time team all year like all season long they’ve been awful on offense and crunch time believe was that a fifth worst clutch time offensive efficiency all throughout the regular season even worse in the postseason. And it’s a it’s a function of, like you said, if the bailout option is okay, Tatum, go to your like turnaround midrange fadeaway. Well, you’re not necessarily always generating great looks on that, especially when you got really good defenders. Like, I mean, the fact that Andrew Wiggins has basically just put Tatum in Alcatraz when once they’re inside the the half court has been totally insane in the series and you need abilities to generate easier shots when you get in the game. And I think they tend to go because a lot of their of their the dry out that sort of driving kick creation is just like spread it out, ISO one on one somebody beats somebody off the dribble collapse the defense in kick. That’s a lot harder to do when it’s like a loaded up defense at the end of a game. And when you’ve got a really good one on one defender on your best creators. So like if it’s not Smart doing that against like your third best perimeter defender, which he can do, but like do you trust that if you’re Boston? I think that’s been the kind of like the push and pull when they get really good games from him or when he’s able to get downhill and sort of create in that way, it makes them so much tougher to guard. But then like if he tries to post up Steph and then like spins into three bodies and throws the ball away, like all of a sudden they’re off to the races. And that’s kind of like that is what has been their Achilles heel all season long. It’s it’s manifesting in this postseason, in this finals in particular. But as you said, like, there is no you know, tomorrow’s not promised for any of these teams to say, like, if you don’t do it now, well, this will be the beginning of a long run maybe. I mean Al Horford is older Robert Williams is the health has obviously been a major concern. It was a question mark like when they looked at when they were going to extend him, was that going to be something that they really felt comfortable doing? You know, Tatum and Brown, obviously, that’s a that’s a core and something to keep together. But like they they know the East is deep and tough. I don’t want to say the East is big. I don’t want to evoke Mike Woodson. But like, there’s a lot of there’s there’s a lot of really good teams in the east and they might only get better. So like you need to seize this opportunity now and the fact that they’ve kind of they had a they got the Steph game they needed and then they booted it. And that is like, you know, to see that. Now doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t come out in game six and of a much better performance, but you got to feel like that was such a golden opportunity that you blew in Game five.
Jason Concepcion Let’s say the Warriors win this game seven. Legacy question. We got to do it, we got to ask it. Where do you put this we put this Warriors in in the pantheon of great runs from dominant NBA champions?
Dan Devine I mean, I think the best dialog is something like the Spurs. I know that’s kind of like the the that’s kind of been Joe Lacob’s goal was like what if awesome but for 20 years and this would be this would be what you know four in four in eight, four in nine. And that’s like that four and that’s that’s an incredible starting point. And to be able to say, like, I think the thing that’s that’s been most interesting to me about the discussion of the of this individual bit of the Warriors team is like, well, yeah, you know, I mean, you see, when they’re struggling, oh, they totally should have packaged Wisemen and Moses Moody and draft picks to go get like insert third guy here. It’s like I think there’s like the KD development broke all of our brains where it’s like, well, if a team is not bullet, if a team’s not bulletproof and a sentinel, then it’s not that good. It’s like, No, no, they are like, this is what the Warriors were like before. They were really good, but it was like relying on Leandro Barbosa minutes in the first season of that run, right? Like you can be a really good team and have vulnerabilities and then like what makes them compelling is the overcoming of that. What makes the Warriors compelling is like, Can you win on a night where Steph is, you know, 0-9 from three? Can Draymond Green go to the depths of hell and come back up? You know, can Klay Thompson come back from two years away and hit the shots that keep them in contact in the third quarter of a must win game like the the the spine of this team, that the ability of this core of guys to, you know, face down these most difficult moments and then rise above it. Like that’s the kind of stuff that’s going to go down in history. You will remember the shooting, will remember the game six is for Klay. You will remember everything that Draymond yelled at everybody. But like, that’s the stuff that makes this team special. And that’s why, you know, as they passed, I believe it was last night, they passed Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili for the most or second most finals wins of any trio. I think that’s the legacy. I think that’s the analog, that kind of core where they got completely laid low and had to come all the way back up and were able to do it at the highest level. And, you know, that puts you into awfully rarefied air, all time.
Jason Concepcion Dan Devine. It was good to catch up with you, especially over a Celtics loss, of course, in a crushing Celtics loss. I’m tempted to ask you, is it too soon to worry about Jayson Tatum being scared of the moment running from the ground? But we’ll leave that for a later date, maybe after maybe after a devastating Celtics loss that actually fits my prediction. Dan, it was a great to catch up with you. Thank you. Thank you for putting up with me, calling you on a phone.
Dan Devine Jason. It’s my pleasure. And if you excuse me, I got to go back to The Ringer Slack, which is all funeral dirges right now. It’s all just just just sadness. It’s all Morrissey songs. It’s a lot happening. This I got to hop back over there, but wonderful to catch up with you as well.
Jason Concepcion <A.D.>.
Jason Concepcion In the words of the PGA Tour, I’m all right. Nobody worry about me. Why? You got to give me a fight Liv? Can’t you just. That’s right. The Saudi backed Liv Golf Invitational series kicked off this Thursday in London with a bunch of golfers, you know, and a whole bunch of golfers that you’ve never heard of. And there were very few commercials because sponsors don’t want to touch this. And so it was an up and down in terms of quality, an up and down, Liv came out stronger than a lot of people were expecting. And to help us unpack everything around the the the topic that is tearing golf apart, is Andrew Beaton of The Wall Street Journal. Andrew, you’ve been following this closely. Thanks for joining us.
Andrew Beaton No problem is a pretty strange week out in London for this.
Jason Concepcion So, catches up with what Liv is before we delve into the kind of nuts and bolts of of of what we saw last weekend.
Andrew Beaton So just to catch you up, Liv golf, upstart golf tour, that’s offering gobs and gobs of money to try and attract some the game’s biggest stars. The only problem just happens to be where for some people, where that money happens to be coming from, which is the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia.
Jason Concepcion Aha. Saudi Arabia. Who numerous human rights abuses, we could go on and on. Homosexuality, a crime. These are all things, you know, internal things for the Saudi nation in their own culture. But like when you when you become involved with them internationally on a scale such as the golfers who have joined this, you now have to answer questions as to your association with the Saudi wealth fund. Also the you know, the involvement at the highest levels of the Saudi government with the the murder and dismemberment of a of a Washington Post reporter. Small things to answer for if you’re a golfer. So what is why why? Why do this? What what what is the point of Liv even existing?
Andrew Beaton You know, depends who you ask. They, Liv, says they want to grow the game. They want to introduce new, fun, quirky new formats. But to a lot of people, there is this pretty new term of sports watching. And that’s what some and that’s what some people believe this to be. And that’s the idea that in order to burnish its global image, which is obviously controversial, troubled, so on and so forth, depending on your perspective, that they get a they may see a global halo effect by being able to associate themselves with the likes of incredibly popular people like Phil Mickelson or Dustin Johnson.
Jason Concepcion So you mentioned Phil and Dustin. I think clearly the two marquee names, along with Bryson DeChambeau and some others, Sergio Garcia, for the most part, the the the marquee names who have joined Liv have been guys like Sergio who have even Phil who are kind of past past their prime, so to speak, that, you know, there are there are few counterexamples of that. But can you give us give us an idea of the the price tag associated with bringing these players over to Liv.
Jason Concepcion So the reports out there for a guy like Dustin Johnson or Phil Mickelson have been that they’re getting a nine figure payday for this. You know, Phil Mickelson was asked, you know, did you get $200 million? He said he doesn’t want to get into contractual details cause he thinks they should be private. So that’s not a confirm or deny. But it’s clear huge money and the players don’t really shy away from this. You know, Phil Mickelson at his press conference Monday at the U.S. Open, he’s when he was asked why he’s playing in this. He began his answer by saying, no, there’s an incredible financial commitment. I mean, it’s money that is ultimately attracting them. And they can also earn far more money in any of these tournaments than they can right now on the PGA Tour, in this tournament in London or just outside of London, had a purse of $25 million. That’s a lot of money.
Jason Concepcion That is a tremendous amount of money. Now, the PGA Tour has responded by by suspending the players involved who have who have decamped to Liv. They can’t do that with with a player like Phil who has a lifetime membership, essentially because of his standing as a as a as a golfer. Is that correct? So they can’t, like, pull his membership in the PGA.
Andrew Beaton I mean, that’s a fight that I think we’re going to see play out because they suspended him. Their memo suspending the 17 players included Phil Mickelson. Several other players resigned their memberships. Dustin Johnson resigned from the PGA Tour. But Phil Mickelson, he did not. And he says, I don’t think I should have to because I’ve earned my status as a lifetime member. And so that’s actually a fight that we’re probably seemingly going to see play out in the coming days, weeks and months because he thinks he shouldn’t be able to get banged for this.
Jason Concepcion Is fascinating. But look, let’s zoom out for a second, obviously. We are watching the global economy kind of shudder under the weight of of various pieces of massive baggage that is carrying, including the war in Ukraine, the ongoing disruption of the supply chain from COVID 19, etc., etc.. When Joe Biden came in and began his run as president, he was quite outspoken about, you know, wanting to punish Saudi Arabia for and other things, among other things like that. The murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the reporter Jamal Khashoggi, that has since gone away with seemingly normalized diplomatic relations flowing again between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Clearly like the fact that gas costs so much fucking money gives them tremendous leverage. It feels as if, you know, for all the talk about sports, washing Liv is just one piece of a much larger global campaign to you know, burnish the reputation of the kingdom abroad. Would you say that that is accurate?
Andrew Beaton Yeah. I mean, there are too many different cogs on this wheel to unpack in even a short or a long conversation. But I think the one thing that stands out to everybody as being different with Liv golf than all those other factors is yes, the Saudi Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund throws around a lot of money. There’s a lot of businesses that are intertwined with it. But this is a situation where it doesn’t appear to be about doing business. You know, they this is a situation where a lot of people see sports is different because, you know, if you invest in a company. You’re not getting some reputational boost by doing that. It’s a business transaction. Whereas when you are throwing around tremendously large stacks of cash to associate with professional golfers. You know, that is something that people could look at and say, oh, this might be just too really, this isn’t business. It’s to change image, to change the reputation of a country that might be interested in doing that.
Jason Concepcion It seemed in recent weeks and months as Liv got closer and closer to debuting. You know, it was on again, off again, seeming like it wasn’t going to go. You had multiple people who are now involved with Liv, you know, saying, oh, I’m not sure what’s going to happen with it. Now, all of a sudden it’s launched what are what are its you know obviously incredibly early in that in the, in the lifespan of this endeavor but, does it have staying power? Do you think without without the connections to like to the major tournaments that have the kind of like name recognition that even people who aren’t fans of golf understand, without an ability to hook into those things, what kind of staying power can Liv really have and what can the what kind of like long term career do we think the golfers who are involved with it can can expect?
Andrew Beaton So I think it’s been fascinating to watch this progression because you have not long ago in February, Rory McIlroy calls this thing dead in the water. And I think he was, he wasn’t out on a limb when he was saying that. I think after Mickelson’s controversial comments, everyone was looking at this and saying, you know, who would really go risk their careers, go play here? And so then it started to become clear that, like, you know, the golfers you were mentioning earlier, the guys who might be towards the end of their careers and might be looking to chase a payday that’s not necessarily available to them, like the Lee Westwood, the Ian Poulter is that they might go. But still, I mean, listen, is anybody tuning in to a golf broadcast these days to watch them? Probably not so much. And so then the big bombshell comes and it’s Dustin Johnson. And when he says that he’s playing in this, that really seems to change the game, both for Liv, but also when you start thinking about his long term future, which is what you’re asking about because you have guys and some pretty big names lined up to play, not just this first event or the one that’s going to be next in Portland or, you know, when there’s one at Trump Bedminster, you guys were clearly linking on to this for the long haul because they knew that the PGA Tour was going to suspend them. The PGA Tour hadn’t really been subtle about that. And they’re joining to play a long time because there’s a lot of money in it for them. And so the staying power, I mean, it’s impossible to predict three, five, ten years. But I think what’s been made clear over the last couple of weeks is this is going to be a thing for a little while now you have Dustin Johnson and then Phil playing there and then guys like Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed. You know, these are big name golfers that they’ve gotten commitments from. They don’t have any of the top ten golfers in the world still, but they’ve got guys on the wagon for some time now.
Jason Concepcion You mentioned Phil’s controversial comments. Those were I’m going to paraphrase now because they really are so, so funny to think about. He he was asked about his his relationship with Liv, what’s going on with and he said something to the effect of, hey, man, the Saudis are really scary. They beheaded Jamal Khashoggi. They kill, they execute homosexual people over there, but you know what? The money is fucking amazing. Folks. Like, it’s pretty great. And and also, you know, I have a gambling problem. That’s a different story. Now I’m. Now I’m squeezing on a different comment from more recently. But, you know, he was recently asked again about it and he said, yeah, I’ve got a gambling problem. I need the money. What are the. It seems as if for people like Dustin, for Bryson, the idea is make, you know, the money I would have made in my whole career in these next couple of years. And then we’ll we’ll see what happens as as it plays out. But for guys like Phil and Sergio, Greg Norman, even. It’s almost like man. It makes you have to look inside yourself and wonder, what’s my price tag? Have you wondered that, Andrew? What’s your what’s your inside yourself? What’s your personal price tag to just be like, fuck it. I will. I will take that money and and just get into business with terrible people. I’ll do it. Fine.
Andrew Beaton You know, I’d like to think that I ended up being a reporter because I hopefully don’t have too high of a price tag or don’t have a price tag. Excuse me, but I think that’s the overarching question, right? There’s this idea that these guys are making sums of money and then huge sums of money and then having to basically apologize for them for winning that much money.
Jason Concepcion I mean, some of the questions that they’re being asked are, you know, are truly insane at the end and they are absolutely fair. You know, I saw one reporter asking, you know, would you you know, would you play? You know, would you play for a tournament that was that Vladimir Putin had like thrown like would you do something, you know, like various golfers would have to say, oh, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals. These are the kind of questions that people are being asked because of this.
Andrew Beaton Yeah. I mean, I think one was asked if he would play in apartheid South Africa. I mean, that’s that’s where we are with this. And. It sounds absolutely crazy, but you’re asking what’s your price tag, I guess? Another way of looking at the same problem is where do you draw the line? I mean, you have 911 victims families calling out these golfers. So these are aren’t just important questions, they’re like really uncomfortable ones, all painted against the backdrop of Charl Schwartzel, who won the first Liv event. You know, go down in history for winning the first Liv event. Congratulations to him. But he won more than $4 million for winning this golf tournament, which is a huge, huge amount of money. And then you win that much money and then you get asked afterwards, how do you feel about it knowing where that money came from.
Jason Concepcion The PGA Tour, the suspensions came with a kind of a tone of,not to say pettiness, but it seemed like the PGA was a little caught off guard with what to do, maybe what their response might be. Do you just in your reporting, do you have what’s your. What’s. What’s the. Like what is the tenor of of anxiety right now around the PGA Tour and the shot callers there? Are they are they concerned?
Andrew Beaton I mean, I think they’ve been concerned about it for a while. I mean, it’s clear that they see it as a threat because there’s times when the PGA Tour grants waivers to players to play in non PGA Tour events. Happens somewhat normally, can happen a few times a year for each guy. They didn’t grant the waivers for this event because this isn’t just seen as a one off where a guy can go collect an appearance fee, they see this as a threat to the PGA Tour and someone trying to start a rival golf league. And the the anxiety has to be real, right? Because even after this first tournament kicks off, then it continues with more names getting added on for the next one, DeChambeau and Reed being two of the big ones. And so they can look at their ranks right now and know that they still have the best golfers in the world. The fields aren’t closed. The PGA Tour players are still leaps and bounds, way better. But the reality is that money is attracting guys, and maybe that stops. Maybe we’ve seen the guys who are going to go, but maybe it’s just the beginning. And I think, you know, this feels like the beginning of a golf war.
Jason Concepcion Who would have thought it? A war in golf? He is Andrew Beaton, sports reporter for The Wall Street Journal. Andrew, thanks a lot for for joining us. My mom’s going to love this segment. That’s it for us. Follow and subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts wherever you get your podcasts. And don’t forget to subscribe to Takeline show on YouTube for exclusive video clips from this episode. Plus my digital series All Caps NBA, which airs every Friday. Check it out.