Adam McKay on NBA Basketball & Reaganomics | Crooked Media
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May 04, 2021
Adam McKay on NBA Basketball & Reaganomics

In This Episode

Writer, director and avid hoops fan Adam McKay joins the show (35:05) to explain how Reagan-era social policies intertwine with an unfortunate series of basketball tragedies & the exciting game we see today. But first, Jason and Renee unpack LeBron’s recent criticism of the NBA Play-In Tournament (2:19), Aaron Rodgers’ looming departure from Green Bay (9:35), Floyd Mayweather’s exhibition (cash grab) vs. Logan Paul (20:08) and a violent protest staged by Manchester United fans in backlash of the foiled Super League (30:37). All that and more on the latest episode of Takeline.


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Check out Adam McKay’s Death at the Wing podcast





Renee Montgomery: Damian Lillard, to that point, he said, you know, he wasn’t irritated that Chris Haynes wrote it, he’s a writer, that’s what writers do. He’s like: but I do know because of our relationship that people might assume that I was tied to the story—you know, so that’s the only thing that bothered me about it. But I’m just saying hypothetically, if he liked what, he never said—


Jason Concepcion: He never said that he didn’t like it. He never said that what Chris Haynes wrote was not in line with what he was thinking and feeling. He never said that.


Renee Montgomery: Ok!


Jason Concepcion: LeBron James calls for the job of whoever came up with the play-in tournament. Aaron Rodgers and player empowerment, possibly coming to the NFL? Plus, is boxing still good? And filmmaker, writer and producer Adam McKay joins us to talk about his podcast “Death at the Wing” plus, other projects. And a play Take Survivor, its Takeline right now. I’m Jason Concepcion.


Renee Montgomery: And I’m Renee Montgomery. Let’s get it!


Jason Concepcion: Welcome to Takeline. A quick note about today’s recording, Renee Montgomery, you are coming to us from Atlanta, as you always do, but the weather in Atlanta is threatening, if not dangerous. What’s going on?


Renee Montgomery: The weather is wild here in Atlanta. We had a tornado warning. It’s kind of crazy because I was on a staff meeting call this morning and all the staff just kind of jumped out of the call, like dropped from the call. And we’re like: well, that’s weird.


Jason Concepcion: Oh, my gosh.


Renee Montgomery: And then they all were like: yeah, we’re going to probably have to go down some floors because our office building is high. But there’s a real tornado warning that happened here in Atlanta, just so people know. And it’s kind of knocking out the Wi-Fi’s, it’s making some people have to shelter in place. My best friend had to go in a closet. So it’s like, it was pretty bad weather here today in Atlanta.


Jason Concepcion: Well, I’m glad you’re safe, and I’m hoping that everybody else in the Atlanta area is safe.


Renee Montgomery: Right.


Jason Concepcion: That is truly alarming.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah, it’s crazy because it’s like, I don’t know, I didn’t really expect that here. But long story short: we in here!


Jason Concepcion: Let’s do it! Let’s do it.


Renee Montgomery: OK, so after missing 20 games with the high right ankle sprain, LeBron James returned to the lineup over the weekend. And needless to say, the games didn’t go necessarily how he had wanted to go. [laughs]


Jason Concepcion: Did not.


Renee Montgomery: They were underwhelming to a lot of people. But after the game on Sunday, LeBron had some pointed comments that the play-in tournament, he said whoever came up with that, basically needs to be fired. And when I’m saying basically, he literally said: whoever came up with that needs to be fired. I don’t know if this is just, you always have to take things to players say with a grain of salt. Like, I say that all the time. If somebody puts a mic in front of you after you just lost the competition, and they want you to be grateful—that’s always something that I think athletes do on a regular, that doesn’t get commended enough. However, sometimes after a loss, players say things. So, Jason, what do you think about that? Is LeBron, is this just him blowing off some steam after a rough couple of games? Like what what do you feel about that?


Jason Concepcion: Well, first of all, let’s explain that the play-in tournament is a wrinkle that the NBA added after—it had been talked about for many years—but they added it last postseason in the bubble. And the way it used to work in the NBA was top eight teams in both conferences, Eastern and Western, would just go on and play in the playoffs, right? The way it works in the play-in era is the seventh and eighth place teams play each other and the ninth and tenth place teams play each other. And then the winner of the ninth and tenth place team bracket goes on to play the loser of the seventh and eighth place team bracket, and then the winner of the seventh and eighth place team bracket just goes on and becomes the seventh seed in the playoffs. So in other words, we’ve added extra games. It’s still the playoffs, but it’s just conceptually something different, much like the wild card in NFL. You know, like I get it. If I’m LeBron, I get it. First of all, as you mentioned, coming right after a loss, the defense is still there, and it was there when LeBron and Aidee were out. But obviously, Aidee and LeBron are the scoring engines for that team. That’s where the points are going to come from, and that’s the team. Any team with LeBron James is a team with finals aspirations, and coming off of the deep playoff run all the way to the NBA championship in the bubble, the short off season, and now the extremely dense current season that we are in, the prospect of playing more games to get into the playoffs, when in the past you would have just been in as the seventh or eighth seed—I can understand why that is supremely annoying to LeBron James. That said, the whole reason for having the play-in was to generate interest in these late April, early May games coming down the stretch of the season when fans might tend to tune out. And I think the fact that you’re getting these kind of like snippy comments from LeBron James as well as Mark Cuban—we’ll get into that in a second—mean that it’s working as intended, right? Like people, people are caring about these games. LeBron James in particular is caring about this game. Like this is a game that really mattered. And it’s so, therefore it’s working.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah. And to that point, if you’re an organization, and the NBA is a business—I always have to say that because people need to realize sports is a business—if you’re a business—


Jason Concepcion: It’s a business.


Renee Montgomery: And you have one of your stars bringing more attention to the business, there’s never a bad look for the NBA. Like they want the discussions to happen. You know, I remember when All-Star happened, right? And the captains, and choosing the captains, and choosing the teams—that they thought that that was the craziest thing. They didn’t like it. The NBA didn’t stop it because everyone thought it was crazy and they didn’t like it. They kept on the course because it’s generating more attention, is generating more media. And we know, anybody that knows that works in the business, that’s always a good thing. There’s no, there’s no such thing as bad press in a sense of: if you are talking about you, that’s a good thing. Now, having said that, if you make the top eight, like you’re like: look, we’ve got to be one of the top eight teams at the end of the season, all we got to do as a player—what we talk about is all we got to do is get into the postseason. And that’s a brand new season, you start a brand new slate. Once we make the playoffs, you have a new season. And so now conceptually, what players we talk to, and tell ourselves: you’re changing it. Because now you don’t just have to make it to the eight or seven spot, you’ve got to make it there, then you got to win a game to still stay there. So I think that’s the problem. It’s almost like, you know, we talked about the super leagues—we don’t have that fall-out, fall-in accountability type of thing. And so, we’re not liking it!


Jason Concepcion: Let me ask you a question. So J.A. Adande, former ESPN personality, currently the Director of Sports Journalism at the Medill Journalism School, tweeted earlier today—we’re taping this on a Monday—if the play-in ends up costing the NBA the Lakers and Celtics for the playoffs, you’ve got to figure there will be consequences, maybe not lost jobs, but that the format would change. Do you buy into this? Like, this is always a point, a talking point as we enter the postseason is that: oh, man, the Spurs, you know that the NBA doesn’t want to see the Spurs in. I’m sure, like as a player coming from UConn, you must have gotten these same kind of like criticisms leveled at at your teams. Oh, you know that the NCAA wants UConn in this—


Renee Montgomery: right.


Jason Concepcion: to make a deep run. Like it’s so important to them. What do you make of this idea of the NBA paying that close attention to teams with regards to the amount of ratings that they would garner? It’s like, do you buy into this, like, conspiracy theory at all?


Renee Montgomery: So this is what I buy into, I buy into that the league probably had no idea that the Lakers or the Celtics would be a part of this play-in game.


Jason Concepcion: Of course.


Jason Concepcion: I think when they were thinking about the playing game, they were thinking about teams like me and you, the Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks. Imagine them usually not being a playoff team. But now, these are some big market teams that maybe now there’s a way to get us in the playoffs. I think they were thinking of it from the other side of it. I think that most people going into the season where this was already in place, the play-in game, I think that if you had to ask before the season started: would the Lakers be playing in a play-in game, would the Celtics be playing into a play-in game? I think that most people would be like: uh, no, they’re going to be a top seed. Now is starting to get interesting because of that. Now, to answer your question, though, I do think the NBA has a wish list. Like I don’t necessarily know they would try to go and conjure up how to get them there.


Jason Concepcion: Right. Same.


Renee Montgomery: But of course, the NBA wants their big market teams—I mean, they would love, it would be nothing better than the Lakers-Celtics finals. You know, like, of course, that’s going to generate interest. Now, do they go about trying to do things to make that happen? I really don’t think so.


Jason Concepcion: I don’t think so.


Renee Montgomery: I think that they’re in the money making business. What more ways can they make money? What more ways can they bring excitement? Like I said, it’s the same as the All-Star Game. I think people thought it was starting to get a little boring. So what did they start to do? They wanted to switch it up: let’s have captains! I think this is a money-making idea in a sense of how can we switch things up to generate interest?


Jason Concepcion: You know, I think that the Lakers and the Celtics should have just tried to win more games in the playoffs. You know? Have they thought about that?


Jason Concepcion: [laughs] so there’s that.


Jason Concepcion: Have they considered to do try to do that?!


Jason Concepcion: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers picked the perfect moment to sneak attack the NFL, the sporting world, when he announced, or it was reported during last week’s NFL draft that he, after years of clashing with the Green Bay front office, wants out of Green Bay. Green Bay took an offensive lineman, Josh Myers, out of Ohio State in the second round. But, of course, they took a quarterback in the previous year’s draft. But is this a little too late? And how, are we beginning to see, you know, with this, with Tom Brady moving out of New England—are we beginning to see the kind of hints of the kind of player empowerment movement that we have seen in the NBA now coming to the NFL?


Renee Montgomery: You know, it’s interesting because in the NBA, like people are moving around all the time. It’s very common now. It’s not even, very rare. Now from this point on, are you going to see a player that probably plays for one organization their whole career.


Jason Concepcion: Right.


Renee Montgomery: But when you look in the NFL, it’s not so much movement because, you know a lot of basketball players faces, well, football players, you really just don’t. It’s just the nature of the sport. They wear helmets. But for Aaron Rodgers to do this, I mean, I think everybody saw what Tom Brady did. A lot of people thought, people were torn about the Tom Brady move. I don’t know if everyone assumed that he would be able to win a championship right out the gates. But now, once it’s happened, once you’ve seen a player that’s a little bit up there in age—you know, he’s an older player, it’s no question Tom Brady’s older—and now you saw him move to a new team, find a way to be successful. Well, now Aaron Rodgers is like: hey, look, I could do what Tom Brady did. You know, I don’t have to stay here and just finish out my career because I’m old. I think players taking back that power, that’s, that’s new. You know, that’s 2020-type of new. And I will almost pose the question to you: is there a right way to seek change of scenery? Because I remember when James Harden did it in the NBA, you know, that didn’t go over well. But then I remember when other players have done it, and it has not been as big of a deal. Every time LeBron James moves, it’s a big deal. But there’s some players that have demanded a trade. And, you know, like Kyrie Irving, he’s moved around, and people don’t really mind. He’s a superstar. So is there a right way, Jason, or is like, what is that?


Jason Concepcion: You know, it’s interesting because I feel like. This is the kind of conversation a player taking agency in their own career outside maybe of the window afforded to them by their contract that is inevitably just tilted against the player. On the one hand, you have the fans of a particular team that are just going to be hit in an emotional way about a star player wanting out, right? That’s just going to affect them differently, even if there is some blame to go around with the GM or a front office, the star is the star. The star is the person in the spotlight, and that’s just the person that is inevitably going to garner most of the heat, most of the press, and most of the criticism. It’s just kind of like a no-win. Now, I do think that time kind of heals all wounds. And then especially if player, when players move on, like Kevin Durant—who moved on from Oklahoma City and then went to Golden State and is now in Brooklyn—I think if you win, some of that criticism is blunted. There is still that “oh, you joined a super team” kind of way to, like, discredit the accomplishments. But I think, I do think the the criticisms are then blunted. But I, you know, in any kind of situation like this, the everyday fan I think is just, we are just kind of programed over years and decades, an entire lifetime of watching sports to side with teams over players. I don’t know that that’s necessarily fair, but it just feels like it’s that way. I do notice, too, there is, there’s like a real difference in the way these players are perceived. Like LeBron James. They burned his jersey.


Renee Montgomery: Yes!


Jason Concepcion: It was his fault. He was disloyal. But like when it’s Aaron Rodgers, well, Tom Brady, first of all, didn’t get that kind of criticism, one) at least not outside of Massachusetts. And then if it’s like, you know, if it’s like a white player, then it’s like the Yoko Ono story. Like how did Shailene Woodley, how is she influencing Aaron Rodgers and causing him to leave his team? It’s always like that. All of which is to say we always blame the player, right? It’s always the players fault. There’s no way for a player to want out that’s going to insulate them from this kind of thing.


Renee Montgomery: So having said that, when you get to a player, and a player knows that in the back of their mind, like even when I was a player, you know that people aren’t going to perceive you basically outright asking to leave. Then when we look at the Damian Lillard situation, does it make sense? Like, you know what I mean? Like a player, if a player knows that if I come out right and say, and I’m not saying that Damian Lillard told Chris Haynes anything, I’m just saying but knowing what we know about how fans perceive players, like what do we feel about the Damian Lillard situation now? That is what I’m saying.


Jason Concepcion: That’s a great one. So Chris Haynes last week at Yahoo! Chris Haynes is a great reporter, NBA reporter for Yahoo! who has historically, throughout the course of his career, had a really good connections to Damian Lillard as a source of stories and just seems to always understand what Daim is thinking and what his intentions are. He wrote a story last week basically saying that Daim is unhappy. Part of the story says, quote “from the oppressive collection of corporate partners to the national TV spots to repping the trailblazers like no other, to the arduous task of trying to recruit high-level talent to the Pacific Northwest, Damian Lillard has displayed an unprecedented loyalty to the franchise.” It goes on to say that he’s the greatest player in Blazers history. I’m not actually sure about that, but we’ll table that for now. He has never issued an ultimatum to the management, and approach most superstar venture, most superstars venture down when they feel the roster hasn’t been up to par for years. Lillard recently said that he had no role in the writing of this column, which is again not a thing that anyone said. I think it’s very interesting, right, because, you know, to me there’s a real value as a Knicks fan, right? As a Knicks fan who’s watched my team be bad for 20 years, there’s a real value to just kind of always being in the mix. Like the thing I love about Damian Lillard, aside from his loyalty, is he has the Blazers just always in the mix. Yes, there are a few down years, but they’re always like in the playoffs and they’re are always a very dangerous team to play. And that in and of itself, as a person who is starved for playoff content from the team that I follow, I think there’s a value to that. That being said. This is the way we talked about, like, you know, is there a right way and a wrong way for a player to ask out? I think that this is part of it, that teams and team executives, they have an entire marketing department, they have an entire social media department. They can issue official proclamations. A player often doesn’t have that. And I think that if this is the way that you need, that a player feels that they need to to broadcast that: hey, pick it up. I don’t have a problem with it. This is kind of the way the world works. Like coaches, execs, team owners, they take shots of players all the time and they do it like out in the open, like if this is the way that Daim Lillard felt that he needed to move the needle—


Renee Montgomery: Jason, you are preaching to my heart right now. Yes, I agree. And that’s the game.


Jason Concepcion: This is part of the game. This is part of it.


Renee Montgomery: .And you know what has really changed the game? Social media. Because now a player actually has somewhere where they can actually release a response. I mean, JJ, Watt? Let’s use him. For example, he released where he was going. He did that all from his social media. That’s your new platform. That’s your new media. But that’s new. Because before that wasn’t a thing. Fans would only hear one side of every story. A player is a problem in the locker room. Why? You know, is there something going on in the locker room with the coach and or the player? But we don’t hear about that. All we hear about is a player is a problem. And so I think that when you look at if a player does want to leave, you know, I remember people were trying to say Bradley Beal earlier this season, they were like: get Bradley Beal out of DC.


Jason Concepcion: He has never said, he never said anything ever!


Renee Montgomery: He never said anything ever! But it was the fan base that was basically trying to save him. But to that point, how does a player save himself without now not being called loyal or, you know, now not having the fans burn up all my jerseys because I want to leave. Like there really was no out for players. So, you know, Damian Lillard to that point he said, you know, he wasn’t irritated that Chris Haynes wrote it. He’s a writer. That’s what writers do. He’s like: but I do know because of our relationship that people might assume that I was tied to the story. You know, so that’s the only thing that bothered me about it. But I’m just saying hypothetically, if he liked what the, he never said—


Jason Concepcion: He never said that he didn’t like it and he never said that what Chris Haynes wrote was not in line with what he was thinking. It really never said that.


Renee Montgomery: OK, OK. He basically said: look, I didn’t tell Chris to write it, but maybe I should read what Chris is writing and talking about, because we do got a little bit of issues over here. That’s all I’m saying. So I think this best case scenario for Damian Lillard, like if Chris wrote an article that said all of his feelings, and he doesn’t have to be tied to it. Amazing! Like that’s amazing.


Jason Concepcion: I could not agree more. Listen, loyalty is a word in sports that was created to get players to take less money than they are worth.


Renee Montgomery: Hello somebody! Woo! You better, let me snap for that because I’m trying to tell you if people don’t know—because the only people that have to be loyal is sports are athletes. Teams have never been asked to by loyal.


Jason Concepcion: No no. They’ll cut you in a second.


Jason Concepcion: Coaches have never been asked to be loyal. It’s only players that are asked to be loyal. So you’re asking players to be loyal to someone that doesn’t have to be loyal to them. It’s very difficult in that aspect. So like I said, that could be best case scenario for Damian Lillard. He’s like, look, I’m not irritated, I’m not attached to it. But hey, there’s an article there.


Jason Concepcion: All right, so undefeated champ Floyd Mayweather is scheduled to fight notable YouTuber Logan Paul in a June 6th exhibition in Miami. What is happening?! [laughs] OK so, the fight was originally scheduled for February 20th, and includes a possible—listen to this—$100 million payout for Floyd Mayweather! So in case anybody was wondering, why in the world would Floyd Mayweather, the undefeated, undisputed champ of the world, be fighting a YouTuber? Well, yeah, a hundred million dollars might change anyone’s minds. So I’m just like, how do we feel about these Jason? Are these exhibition fights a good or bad thing for boxing? Like if you remember Nate Robinson with Logan Paul’s brother, Jake Paul.


Jason Concepcion: I hope that Nate is OK, by the way, because he got put down in a way that was actually like scary. Like he got knocked out in a concerning way.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah! Very much so. So are they good or bad for boxing? Because, like, I feel bad, I’m torn. Like, I know that as a boxer that has been fighting your whole life, you pray for an opportunity like this. You put in the time, the blood, sweat and tears to fight Floyd Mayweather, and then you see a YouTuber rocket up and fighting them. So I know that that’s not good. And then I also know that I’m the terrible consumer that I’m going to watch it. I hate to say it out loud, but I’m probably going to watch it. I don’t know what to say. So I’m torn. I’m shamed with my own self, but I’d watch them.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah. I think that, first of all, I’m sure like boxing purists, like Max Kellerman-type people have very serious feelings and arguments about this particular topic. To me, it’s like bad for boxing. Boxing, like historically has been one of the most corrupt sports that there: Fight fixing, paying off of judges, people taking dives—that’s not just stuff in the movies, that stuff that’s like has actually happened throughout the course of boxing’s history, you know. And I think that obviously boxing was it was for a time one of the major, major sports in America, one of the major sports in this country, along with like horse racing and baseball, for like a good five decades, six decades. Those were like the big sports in this country. I just think that we’re in a place right now with boxing where it’s almost in its most purest form, which is: it is a spectacle based on an audience’s interest in watching two people beat each other up, who we really want to see get beaten up. And I think that this is a perfect example of that. Like, there’s a lot of people out there who want to see Logan Paul get beat up. Similarly, there are a lot of people out there, though I don’t expect it to happen at all, who would love to see Floyd Mayweather get touched up. I think, listen, I think I expect Floyd Mayweather to toy with Logan Paul for like two rounds and then just kind of like slowly, slowly, slowly close the boom on him. But I think this is just like boxing in its purest form. It’s like schoolyard stuff. We want to see two people who don’t like each other, who we don’t like, fight. Just like we did, like when we were back in elementary school. Like, that’s what it is.


Renee Montgomery: No, I mean, it makes sense because you look at it, some of the bad guys, like look at a Conor McGregor. We know that he’s not even just a villain in the octagon, but we also know that he actually gets in trouble. But that made his stock rise. He started getting bigger fights, bigger paydays, because—.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, we want to see him get his face pushed in.


Renee Montgomery: And the same thing is happening for Jake Paul! Everybody is so mad that Jake Paul is getting these fight options and these big paydays, but this is basically like an entertainment. This is an event. Almost think concert style. And to that point, the fight is taking place in Florida. The promoters are able to sell tickets to a full crowd. That would be 65,000 people going to an event.


Jason Concepcion: Unbelievable.


Renee Montgomery: So like everything about this event, it’s at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens in Florida. 65,000 capacity availability. It’s called a special exhibition, but I mean, this is just, think concert. That’s why I said this is an entertainment.


Jason Concepcion: You know, formally in the past, like for a real like a sanctioned, quote unquote “boxing match” the weights would have to match. We’d care about reach. You know, like Logan Paul is 20 years younger than Floyd. He’s 50 pounds heavier with a six inch reach advantage. Do we care about any of this? No.


Renee Montgomery: No one does.


Jason Concepcion: Like, do we care if Logan makes weight or if Floyd like bulks up. No. That’s like, we just want, people just want to see them fight. And like.


Renee Montgomery: There’s no rules!


Jason Concepcion: And this is, I think that, you know, as sad as it might be to real boxing aficionados and people who really care about the sweet science—so-called—I think this is like kind of the future of what this sport is. Like, this is kind of the future of boxing is these stunt fights.


Renee Montgomery: 100% . And then you look at it at the, again, entertainment aspect. So Logan Paul, his brother Jake Paul has been in three fights. He’s had three knockouts. He, we talk about Nate Robinson, Ben Askrin, and the reason I say that is because they’re putting on a show. And as long as there is a show to be put on, they’re going to keep doing it. They have Snoop Dogg as the announcer for these. So I’m talking about, when I talk about putting on a show, like they had in the past ones with his brother, Jake Paul, they had performances by famous rappers. They had, it was an A-lister star-studded event. So when you look at it as in, this is not a sporting event, this is an entertainment event—well, then it makes a lot of sense. I mean, they’re getting millions of dollars in these fights, as much as you would for any other big-time pay-per-view special. So, I mean, I don’t I don’t see it stopping anytime.


Jason Concepcion: I don’t either. And here’s the other thing about the appeal is if you like either one of these people, great. You might, you’ll tune in. If you hate either one of these people, guess what? You’ll tune in because it’s a perfect heat watch.


Renee Montgomery: Exactly.


Jason Concepcion: It’s amazing. I really do think that this is maybe the direction that that boxing is heading in.


[ad break]


Jason Concepcion: Finally, we have to check in on the fallout from the European Super League. It continues, Renee, it continues.


Renee Montgomery: Oh Lord!


Jason Concepcion: So over the weekend, Manchester United and Liverpool, two teams that were supposed to be in the European Super League, were scheduled to play a match Sunday at Old Trafford, Manchester United’s ground. There were a, there was a crowd of reportedly about a 1,000 fans that protested outside the arena. It turned aggressive, violent even, like scenes—this is like hyperbolic—but kind of reminiscent of like the Capitol with like fans fighting through lines of police officers who were beating them back with, like truncheons and stuff. One officer required emergency hospital treatment after sustaining a significant slash to the face when they threw a bottle at him. The fans then managed to breach Old Trafford and were dancing around on the grounds. They had flares. They had signs wanting the Glazers out. And this protest was from a real hardcore section of Manchester United fans who just want the Glazers, who—the Glazer brothers are, the owners of Manchester United. They are also the owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Glazers bought Manchester United back in 2005 using a, basically credit, like they didn’t have the money. They borrowed the money. And since that time, Manchester United’s finances have been significantly hindered because they’ve been having to pay the debt down. So they basically have, they bought something and then funneled the profits off of that team into the debt. And the fans absolutely hate it. So this is part of the fallout from the European Super League and also the fact that American owners and the influence of American owners are so front and center to the conversations around the Super League. So you’re seeing fans just act in a way that we’re kind of not used to here in America. It is, wild scenes. Like imagine here if fans of the Denver Broncos or something, or the Jets—the Jets are good because they’ve been historically like really struggling over the past couple of decades, were so upset with the way the team was run that they broke into the stadium on game day and like had flares and stuff such that the Jets would have to cancel the game. Really incredible scenes over in, over in England right now.


Renee Montgomery: That’s the that’s the negative part in a sense of, like they will storm the building and get you out of there, and even if it’s your team, but the cool part to me is imagine being that passionate about your sports team. The reason I say that is because, like we saw with LeBron when he was playing with the Cavs, his fan base was there at the Cavs and when he went to Miami, they went to Miami. When he went back to Cleveland, they went back to Cleveland. And now his fans are over there in L.A. because that’s kind of how things work here. We’re almost more of a fan of players in America than we are necessarily sports teams. Like people will easily switch their fan—whoever they’re a fan of. But when you look at these teams—


Jason Concepcion: Not the same.


Renee Montgomery: You might be born into what you watch here for for the rest of your life. Like if your dad or your family is a fan of Manchester, you’re a fan of Manchester because you grew up in that household.


Jason Concepcion: Absolutely.


Renee Montgomery: It’s that serious. So it’s just way different to see over there. And like I said, I played overseas for ten years, so I’ve seen it at the basketball level it’s like that. But there is nothing like soccer, or football, over there. Like that, it’s just different.


Jason Concepcion: It’s is way, way different. In Scotland’s top flight of football, the big rivalry there is between Rangers and Celtic. And over the years, that rivalry has become a stand in for tensions between Protestants and Catholics. The Protestants support Rangers, the Catholics support Celtic. So you can imagine like the kind of battles that happen on the game day there.


Renee Montgomery: Right.


Jason Concepcion: And the kind of banter that goes back and forth. It’s just like a different level of engagement with sports over there. Like we think that we’re intense. There is a different level of intensity.


Renee Montgomery: They will die about their sports teams over there.


Jason Concepcion: They really will.


Renee Montgomery: They are about that life.


Jason Concepcion: Coming up next, we are joined by Adam McKay.


Jason Concepcion: We are so psyched to have the following guest on with us today. He is director, producer, writer. You’ve definitely seen many of his projects, whether it be sketches on SNL, the movies like Anchorman, TV shows like Succession, movies like The Big Short and Vice,  just to name a few. He’s got a new podcast out now called “Death at the Wing: How Drugs, Tragedy and the Reagan Revolution Defined a Decade of Basketball.” please welcome to Takeline Adam McKay. Adam, how are you?


Adam McKay: I am good, Jason. Thanks for having me on.


Jason Concepcion: Adam, well, first of all, how are you feeling about the NBA this season? How are you feeling about the Sixers? What are you thinking?


Adam McKay: I, well first off, it’s incredible that we got the bubble.


Jason Concepcion: Yes.


Adam McKay: It’s incredible that we got this season. So given that we’re in the middle of, you know, historic once every, what, 100-year pandemic, the fact that I’m actually watching basketball that’s entertaining and enjoyable is remarkable. So mostly I’m grateful and kind of astounded. That having been said, you know, there’s been a lot of, you know, COVID protocols. Players going out. There’s been some injuries because of the weird schedule. But, you know, at a certain point, I’m just going to be incredibly happy that I’m getting to see Zion Williamson play point guard and shut my mouth.


Jason Concepcion: It is an unbelievable experience to watch a human being of those proportions handle the ball and seemingly roll with just like an unstoppable amount of force to wherever he wants on the court. It seems like nobody can stop him. People just bounce off him. It’s like a video game.


Adam McKay: I mean, it’s like, I was trying to explain to my wife the other day who’s completely humoring me and wanting to leave the room and I couldn’t even describe it because the game was on and I was like, look at this. And I did a bunch of really bad comparisons. I’m like, it’s like Orlando Pace, one of the great offensive lineman in NBA history is dancing in a ballet and is really good at it. And then I like tried 10 other things. I’m like, just look, he like physically doesn’t look right for an NBA court. Like he shouldn’t be on that court and he’s tiptoeing between, you know, hot coals go into the hoop with this soft touch. It’s an incredible thing. My big take away from it was every team should have someone play the point guard that shouldn’t be playing the point guard. That we need to see Mo Bamba play the one for the Magic. Like, that’s it. Like who cares? You’re out of the playoffs. Give the rock to Mo Bamba. Let him dribble it up the court.


Jason Concepcion: I love it. I’ve been listening to Death at the Wing and it’s such a fascinating throughline and idea for a sports podcast. Tell us a little bit about this podcast and how you came up with the idea and how it came about.


Adam McKay: It basically came out of a “what if” game that I think we all play, which is what if Len Bias had actually made it to the NBA, and was the guy that maybe, maybe—I mean, Jordan’s the, you know, arguably the greatest player ever—but if there is anyone that could have maybe taken it to him, it was Len Bias. Had the athleticism, the skill. And then we would play the same game with Drazin Petrovic, who was kind of Steph Curry before Steph Curry. And then we would play the same game with Hank Gathers, you know, six nine power forward who could shoot. What would have happened, Reggie Lewis on his way to possibly a Hall of Fame career. Benji Wilson—and at that point I started to just say: wow, this list is really long of players from the ’80s and the ’90s. And it was lucky enough that our new company, we had started a podcast division, a Hyperobject Industries, and we were lucky enough to hook up with Jody Avirgan and a bunch of great producers.


Jason Concepcion: Great. Love Jody.


Adam McKay: And one of the amazing things about a podcast, you can dive into it with the question intact. So that’s exactly what we did. We started interviewing a bunch of people and, to find out why did it happen in this decade, in the early 90s, and not in other decades and in other sports.


Jason Concepcion: It’s really been a theme of your work, certainly recently: The Big Short, Vice, Succession, this idea of this kind of like structural rot at the base of American politics, world capitalism. And I think that that is, you know, if people have been closely watching the stuff you’ve been doing, even back to sketches at SNL—I think that that kind of throughline, that criticism of, you know, modern capitalism, I think has always been there. Do you feel that as well, and do you think that it’s just been, it’s just become more overt, certainly over the years? And what do you think has spurred that?


Adam McKay: Yeah, I was joking with a friend of mine that, you know, for decades we would talk about this stuff and I would have to argue about it and people would say, well, that’s my opinion. And the only small, tiny, infinitesimal silver lining to the last five, six years of basically utter collapse, is that it’s no longer an opinion anymore. We’re clearly in trouble. We’re clearly overrun by special interests. It’s you know, it’s something, through the years, a lot of us have laughed about it. A lot of us have been very upset by it. But it’s, the reason we did this podcast was I remember it as a very visceral thing when it started in the 80s.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah.


Adam McKay: You could feel the wind change when we went from the society of FDR and LBJ, the Great Society and the New Deal, to individualism, Reaganomics. It’s har—it’s really one of those strange things. Usually the macro doesn’t, you can’t feel it that personally really, really good. But it also, as often happens, happens to coincide with a lot of really exciting things. The explosion of African-American culture in America with hip hop and basketball, which was something I just loved right from the get go. So, you know, when you look back at things, it’s never one clean line. I have a lot of fond memories of the ’80s going to Fresh Fast at the Spectrum in 1986 and seeing Stetsasonic MCs and Public Enemy and and playing a lot of basketball and seeing Black basketball explode, and seeing comedy explode in media. There’s really good memories from the ’80s. But then I also saw my friends struggling more and more as their paychecks got leaner and leaner, and the country coming apart. So this seemed like a great format, a great framework, this investigative podcast to kind of dive into that duality.


Jason Concepcion: And you’re known, of course, for your comedic work. How do you marry those two instincts? Like, you know, the, on the one hand, this incredibly funny streak that I think has created some of the most emblematic comedy moments, certainly over the last 15, 20 years. And also this like real vein of, I think, anger and discontentment, which you can find in the Big Short, you know, Vice, Succession. You’ve managed to somehow meld these things together. And how do you manage to do it? Like what, do you have a formula for doing that?


Adam McKay: I, I’ll use the podcast as kind of the perfect doorway to that that point of view, which, you know, isn’t obviously just me. There’s been a lot of people through the years that have expressed that. If you look at the show, Wonder Showzen and is a legendary comedy show, is a perfect example of a mixture of absurdity with anger, with genuine worry, and at the same time, sometimes just straight up funny as hell. And the perfect example is really Ronald Reagan. I mean, people forget that guy starred in a bunch of movies opposite a monkey. Like just take that, like when we were living through it, my parents and grandparents couldn’t believe what they were seeing. The guy from Bedtime for Bonzo. Like if you ever Google Bedtime for Bonzo, look at the movie poster. That was the guy who was the face of the right-wing revolution. And he wasn’t the, you know, the conductor of it, he was a spokesperson, don’t get me wrong. But just that. The guy who starred in a bunch of comedies with a monkey became President. I mean, that’s what we lived through. So that’s it right there. My reaction to that is life is far stranger than you think it’s ever going to be, life is hilarious. And at the same time, that dude from the comedies with the monkeys really did some dark, dark shit in this country that was pretty infuriating and awful. So all of that lives on the same plate together with the same gravy, unifying it.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah. The nine scariest words in the English language are: I am Bonzo’s costar and I am here to help. You, on your podcast you unpack several of the tragedies. You mentioned the death of Drazen Petrovic, the shocking passing of Len Bias. Was there anything that in the course of these, the research for these, anything that that really stood out, that struck you and anything that, you know, really affected you in a way that maybe you weren’t expecting?


Adam McKay: By far, the craziest, most affecting, emotional interview was with Billy Moore, who is the gentleman, young man, he was 16-years old at the time, who pulled the trigger to shoot and kill Benji Wilson. And I interviewed him. And first off, it’s just incredibly emotional to talk with a guy who took, you know, another man’s life, a rising star, a beacon of hope for Chicago—but also to talk to a young man who was imprisoned at that age, treated like an adult, railroaded, not afforded an attorney, basically coerced into signing a confession. But most moving about it was the last act of his life, what he’s dedicated his life to, which is stopping violence in the streets, reaching out to people who have been traumatized by the same violence he was a part of. And there’s a story where he meets with Benji Wilson’s two brothers in an attempt to reconcile, that I won’t tell the story now, but it’s one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking things I’ve ever heard. So that, that interview for me really stands out. And hearing Jerry West, Hall of Fame basketball player really, truly open up about his battles with mental health. That, I mean, that guy’s a legend, he’s an assassin, he’s a badass. And there’s a vulnerability and a courage in the way he expresses himself that was so inspiring for me.


Jason Concepcion: I could not agree more. The Jerry West, some of the Jerry West things were truly startling. Adam, lastly, the Knicks are good. What does this mean? What does this mean for America? What does it mean for the world? What does it mean for all of us who have to share this globe? It hasn’t happened in a long time and it’s happening now. And I find myself every day waking up completely at odds with how to deal with it. What do you think? What is your take on this?


Adam McKay: It’s a lot. It’s a lot to handle. You know, the eco-philosopher Timothy Morton calls forces that are simply beyond our understanding “hyperobjects” which is what our company is named after. And the Knicks being good as a hyperobject. If you look at the early ’70s, poverty was at its lowest in U.S. history.


Jason Concepcion: That’s right.


Adam McKay: The middle class was stronger than it’s ever been.


Jason Concepcion: That’s right.


Adam McKay: Wages for the majority of Americans were higher. Guess what else was happening during that time Jason. The Knicks were winning championship rings.


Jason Concepcion: That’s right.


Adam McKay: The Knicks being good, it’s a bellwether for human civilization. It’s, the amidst the climate catastrophe, amidst raging—borderline genocidal income inequality—military industrial, we see one little sprout bursting into a new day’s sun, and that is Julius Randle becoming LeBron James Jr..


Jason Concepcion: Listen, I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that over the last two decades we have seen, you know, the debacle of the Iraq war, the collapse of the subprime loan scheme, which led to an incredible collapse of our banking system, that we have now seen this pandemic and now hopefully a ray of sunshine. I hope that is the case, Adam McKay.


Adam McKay: It’s all we got.


Jason Concepcion: It’s all we got. And I’m hanging on to it with dear life and all the strength that I have in me. May Reggie Bullock continue to hit threes. May Julius Randle hold up under this incredible onslaught of minutes that Tom Thibodeau is laying upon his shoulders, because in fact, the entire fate of the human race lays upon their shoulders.


Adam McKay: Jason, it’s no coincidence that ten minutes after Steve Francis was signed by the Knicks, we commenced the bombing of Baghdad.


Jason Concepcion: That’s right!


Adam McKay: I could I could read a list of these. Eddy Curry, twenty minutes after his contract was signed, the stock market started to tank, default rates started to shoot through the roof. The list goes on and on. There’s a strange parallel, corollary between the health of the Knicks and the U.S. economy and the fate of mankind. So, yes, it’s very exciting what’s happening.


Jason Concepcion: much like quantum entanglement, we don’t understand how it works, but we must accept that it does work. Adam, thank you so much.


Adam McKay: My absolute pleasure.


Jason Concepcion: Adam, please stick around to join us on Take Survivor, next.


[ad break]


Jason Concepcion: And now are you ready for Take Survivor, the game in which only the strongest take survives? Today, we have four incredible contestants. Before I get to that, let me quickly explain the rules. We have three rounds, three prompts. Our contestants will vote on who must leave the island at the end of each round, leading to the finals, at which point the strongest take will be crowned. Joining us today: you know him as a director, as a producer, as a writer, Adam McKay. Adam, how are you today?


Adam McKay: I’m good. I’m, the brain’s feeling loose. I feel like my mouth’s going to say some things that will get clicks on social media. They’ll be, if not scalding hot takes, at least lukewarm takes.


Jason Concepcion: That’s what we want. We want to feel absolutely comfortable as our hand slips into the take such that our bladder then loosens. Joining us next, producer for this podcast, Elijah Cone. Elijah, how are you?


Elijah Cone: I’m feeling good, Jason. This might just be my week.


Jason Concepcion: I somehow doubt it. Also, a producer for this podcast, Zuri Irvin. Zuri, how are you today?


Zuri: I’m feeling good. I just hope we all have fun and may the best take win. Or the worst one, if it’s mine.


Jason Concepcion: Tone of voice kind of went up and that, that inflection, that that betrays a nagging lack of confidence. But I can’t wait to see what happens today. I am the fourth contestant. I am completely beside myself at any moment in time with just absolute terrible insecurity and depression, but I’m going to carry on. Our first prompt today. What is the most ideal name for a horse in the Kentucky Derby? Winner of the Kentucky Derby this year? Medina. Medina. What is the ideal name for a horse competing in the Kentucky Derby? Let’s start with you, Zuri Irvin, Zuri, what is your horse name?


Zuri: First of all, I’m thrilled to own a horse in the Kentucky Derby. Let’s start there. But the most ideal name I’m looking for is: This Horse Will Win Its Next Race. This Horse Will Win It’s Next Race. If you struggle, it doesn’t matter, the wagers will be on his side. He’s there for the long, for the long haul. And if the worst happens to speak a little bit of English, maybe he gets a little confidence boost knowing that greener pastures are ahead.


Jason Concepcion: [buzz] A horse that speaks English, incredible stuff. Ronald Reagan sitting up suddenly in his grave and taking notice. Zuri Irvin’s answer is: This Horse Will Win Its Next Race. THWWINR. Elija Cone: to you, your horse.


Elijah Cone: I’m going to keep it simple. I’m just going to say the best name for the horse will be The Rock, because if I wanted to see human in horse form, it would be The Rock. And also I picture the call as he enters the last stretch of the race. He’s taken the lead. The announcer shouting: Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?


Jason Concepcion: Unbelievable. [buzz] That actually works. Shouts to our probably 46th or perhaps 47th president, Dwayne The Rock Johnson. Adam McKay: up to you. Your name for a horse in the Kentucky Derby.


Adam McKay: I don’t know if there’s a rule about how many words you can have in a horse’s name.


Jason Concepcion: Well . . .


Elijah Cone: I’m going to assume there’s not. And I’m going to do the old joke that people used to do where they would get people paged at the airport giving names that sounded like dirty words. I’m going to make the announcer say something he doesn’t want to say. And I’m going to say the horse’s name is “I, your announcer, have a serious drinking problem and I need immediate help.”


Jason Concepcion: [buzz] I, [laughs] and coming around is “I, your announcer, have a serious drinking problem and I need serious help. .Adam McKay, it’s a little bit of a mouthful, but I think it’s hilarious. And now it’s up to me. Jason Concepcion, I will now choose my name for a horse. And listen, I think that we’ve got to, I think branding is so important in today’s sports world. You want to call back to something that it’s existing in the popular culture and therefore my name for a horse will call back to the biggest movie of all time: Avatar. My horse’s name will be “Avatar is the biggest movie of all time” that is my horse name. “Avatar is the biggest movie of all time.”


Jason Concepcion: [buzz] Let’s go to the voting, everybody. Here we go. It is time to vote. Who is voted off the island? Will it be Adam McCain with “I’m your announcer and I have a serious drinking problem.” Will it be Elijah Cone “The Rock”—can you smell what Elija is cooking. Yes. That’s right. Will it be Zuri Irvin with This Horse Will Win Its Next Race. Some would ask, what about this one? What about the race the horses currently in, which is the Kentucky Derby? Or will it be me who is voted off? “Avatar is the biggest movie of all time” is the name of my horse. James Cameron agrees and the votes are coming in now. We have one vote for Zuri Irvin to be eliminated from the island. We have two votes for Zuri Irvin. And then finally three votes for our first elimination. Zuri Irvin. This Horse May Win Its Next Race, but Zuri Irvin will not be here to see it. Zuri, what do you have to say?


Zuri: Not much. I don’t think I brought it today but I guess I should my name to “I Will Advance In Take Survivor. [laughter] But I’m honored to be here, and may the best man win.


Jason Concepcion: Well, see you next time. And we are on to round two. Round two and our prompt: which character from the Adam McKay universe would make the best coach for the 1980’s Show Time Lakers. Elijah, let’s start with you. Which character from the Adam McKay universe would make the best coach for the ’80s Lakers?


Elijah Cone: Jason, I’m going to have to go out on a limb and say the best coach for the Lakers would be Dick Cheney. [laugher] We know he’s a leader. He was president of the United States for eight years.


Jason Concepcion: He was! Yes, he was.


Elijah Cone: He motivated the whole country to go to war on false pretenses. So I can only imagine the bulletin board material he would put up that would help Celtics. Have like Sarin gas or something in the arena. The only downside is that he would be a very inaccurate shooting coach, so you would have to get someone else. [buzz]


Adam McKay: [buzz]  Nice. Nice.


Jason Concepcion: Elijah Cone with Dick Cheney. Dick Cheney, suffer of a dozen heart attacks, still with us. Adam McKay, which character from your universe would have made the best coach for the ’80s Lakers?


Adam McKay: I’m going to go Brian Fantana.


Jason Concepcion: Oh, wow!


Adam McKay:  I mean, here’s what I like about him. First off, he’s got the style, he likes to party. He’d be in the Forum Club, you know, about an hour left in the game, he’d already be in the Forum Club. He’d probably wear a neck scarf, kind of ala Doug Moe and Larry Brown. I miss the days of the neck scarf on dudes. Also, no idea what he’s talking about. No real knowledge of basketball, which with that team, all respect to Pat Riley, let’s face it, you didn’t really need like Magic Johnson was the conductor. So I’m going to go Fantana. The only problem is, would miss a lot of games from STDs. [laughter] And the second, the notion of sexual harassment started to emerge, which I think was the early ’90s—his career is over.


Jason Concepcion: [buzz] Yes. That’s correct. But listen, but by then, the team had run its course. Adam McKay selects Brian Fantana. Fantana from the Anchorman series. It’s up to me, Jason Concepcion. I am going to select Roman Roy, from Succession. Now, we’d have to explain to him that it is in fact the Lakers and not the Clippers. There might be some confusion about which team he is coaching. Notably, he bought the wrong Scottish Premier League team for his father, Logan. But after that, like, you know, as Adam said, I think that that’s a team that runs itself. Roman would have a tremendous time having a lot of very weird sexual dysfunction in 1980s Los Angeles. The team would continue to be successful. That is my answer: Roman Roy. [buzz] Let’s go to the voting folks. Who will it be, will it be Elijah Cone who says Dick Cheney, the president of the United States for eight years, would be the perfect coach for the 80s. Will it be Adam McKay’s selection of Brian Fantana from the Anchorman Universe. What a stylish man. What a, what a good, good looking man. Actually, the styles would fit for a lot of that run of the Lakers, of the Lakers championship years. Will it be me who is left off the island? I selected Roman Roy from Succession. The votes are coming in now. One vote for myself. Terrible. One vote for Elijah. And breaking the tie, our second person voted off the island: Elijah Cone. Dick Cheney not compelling enough. Elijah, what do you have to say?


Elijah Cone: I just have to say that I hope that history will remember me more fondly than it’s currently remembering Dick Cheney. And I’m just happy to play today.


Jason Concepcion: Elijah, sad to see you go. But we are on to the finals. It is myself against Adam McKay. And here is our final prompt: recently Conor McGregor, a good person—I haven’t Googled that, but that’s what I hear, has sold his whiskey company Proper 12 for 600 million dollars, proving yet again that capitalism absolutely works for everyone. Our question, what should Conor McGregor create or promote next? What should Conor McGregor create or promote as his next entrepreneurial venture? Adam McKay: to you.


Adam McKay: You know, I really like that Connor found his lane, or is a lot of the young people like to say these days, his brand. And I appreciate the fact that he’s made his fortune putting people into submission holds, pounding their heads into CTE and filling their bellies with whiskey. So I’m going to stick with this line here, I think he’s in the right direction. I’m going to go with vape pens, Baby’s First vape pen. So applesauce-flavored vape pens to get your child comfortable vaping from the age of eight months on, peach-flavored vape pens.


Jason Concepcion: Oh, delicious. Yeah.


Adam McKay: Yeah. I think it a, nicotine is very addictive chemical. Vape pens aren’t going anywhere. I think Conor McGregor could really get in front of that business.


Jason Concepcion: [buzz] Conor McGregor and the vape pen. Baby’s First vape pen. And an incredible pic. It’s on to me. What should Conor McGregor create or promote next as his next entrepreneurial venture? I’m going to say McGregs! What are McGregs? You ask. McGregs are Conor McGregor’s trademarked truck nuts. You’ve seen trucks nuts. You know what they are. They are the silicone testicles that hang off the back bumper of a vehicle, and we would hope an SUV-type gas guzzling vehicle. I think Conor McGregor needs to get in on this. And as I said, he would name the product McGregs. McGregs, and they’d be, they’d be bigger than the normal truck nuts. They’d drag along the ground. But it would just show you how strong and how powerful, and how much stronger than the asphalt these McGregs actually are. McGregs. [buzz] That is my answer. And we move now to the voting. Now I want, like to remind our contestants we are voting for the winner here. We are voting for the winner today. Will it be Adam McKay, who says Conor McGregor should create a line of vape pens, including vape pens specifically for children. Let’s get ’em started early, folks. Or will it be me who wins today? I pitched McGregs. Conor McGregor’s branded truck nuts, truck testicles. They hang off the back bumper of your truck. The votes are coming in now.


Adam McKay: I like Jason’s. I would, in honor of Conor McGregor, but I’m going to trust the vote. I would almost submit, because I think Jason’s is the winner. But I will trust the vote. I will abide by the election.


Jason Concepcion: Well, I’m so glad to hear you say that, Adam. We definitely don’t want any kind of stealing situation here in this democracy that is Take Survivor. And our champion today: two votes coming in to you, three votes coming in for Adam McKay, our winner of Take Survivor today. [song] Adam, what do you have to say?


Adam McKay: I mean, I was trying to be gracious when I said I was going to submit to your take, but now that I’ve won, it feels shockingly good. I know this is kind of just a fun little game, but, man, I need, my esteem needed this badly. So my heart’s just pounding like a rock in a dryer right now. And this is, this is way too exciting. I don’t know what it says about my mental health that I’m this jacked up about this win.


Jason Concepcion: Well, I would just like to note that one, that is normal. That does happen. One of our former contestants on Take Survivor, Trayvon Free, recently won the Oscar for Best Short. So the Takeline bump in the Take Survivor bump is real. And that’s what you’re feeling in your bloodstream right now. Adam McKay, thank you so much for joining us.


Adam McKay: My, I mean, to say pleasure is an understatement. My, my orgasmic life moment, thanks to you, Jason and Zuri and Elijah. This was honest to God, like, it’s a cliché, but thrill of a lifetime.


Jason Concepcion: Thank you so much, Adam.


Adam McKay: Thanks, you guys.


Jason Concepcion: It’s time for our buzzer beaters. The place where we talk about the stories that are on our minds that maybe don’t fit into the larger conversation. Renee, what’s on your mind?


Renee Montgomery: OK, so the Kentucky Derby. Yes, I’m talking about the Kentucky Derby, but not for the reasons you would think about. I’m a sports person, so I like to see trends. And something that I saw was that Bob Baffert, the trainer, you might not have heard his name, but what you should know about him is that he has won now a record breaking seven Kentucky derbies. So you guys might have been looking at the winning horse, which is Medina Spirit, Authentic in 2020. OK, Justify in 2018. American Pharaoh in 2015. War Emblem in 2002. Real Quiet in 1998 and Silver Charm in 1997. If all those things mean nothing to you, what they should mean to you is those are all his winning horses. He’s won with all these different horses at all these different times, starting in 1997 to 2020. And now most recently this most recent one. It’s crazy, and so before we go I had to give Bob a shout out because he’s a champ, and he’s worth about thirty million. I’m just saying he’s doing good for himself.


Jason Concepcion: I want, I want player empowerment for the horses in the Kentucky Derby.


Renee Montgomery: Oh my God.


Jason Concepcion: Or, as I call it, the Derb. I’m trying to rebrand the Kentucky Derby for the GenZ. Let’s call it the Derb. My thing is like, let the horses decide, let the horses decide who they want to train them, where they want to go, and what they want to be named. Player empowerment for Medina, War Spirit, Authentic and the rest of them.


Renee Montgomery: I’m going to counter you. I’m going to counter the Derb. I love it. Give the horses extra sugar cubes. If they win, they better receive preferential treatment. But for the GenZ group, I’m going to counter your name with K Derb. Just give it a little bit of—


Jason Concepcion: K Derb!


Renee Montgomery: K Derbs! Ok. What you got for your Buzzer Beater this week, Jason?


Jason Concepcion: Well, my vax is locked in. My vaccine—


Renee Montgomery: Yes!


Jason Concepcion: I’ve been slowly catching up with friends in person. It’s been great to see people that I haven’t seen in the flesh in over a year and I’ve been putting some money back into the local economy. On that note, I went and got a massage, and I’d like to say this. I got beat up for 90 minutes.


Renee Montgomery: Oh my. What!?


Jason Concepcion: Like, it felt like I was in a Muay Thai match, absolutely getting my ass beat. But then, you know what? At the end of it, I felt great. I walked out of there. I felt a lot better.


Renee Montgomery: OK, but Jason, that’s kind of like a sports massage. Like every time I used to get, we call em sports massages because like they use their elbow, it’s painful, is torture, it’s not what you would think of. You sound like you got a sports massage. Do you feel athletic now? Like you could go, run, jump.


Jason Concepcion: I don’t feel, I absolutely do not feel athletic. But let me tell you, it was, it was wild.


Renee Montgomery: And she left there, like: you’re welcome. [laughs]


Jason Concepcion: That’s it. I’m feeling relaxed, Renee. I hope you’re safe. And I hope everybody else in the Atlanta area is staying safe right now due to the inclement weather. But that’s enough for us today. Please follow and subscribe to us on Apple podcast.


Renee Montgomery: You better!


Jason Concepcion: Or wherever you get your podcast. That’s right. Don’t forget to subscribe to Takeline show on YouTube for exclusive video clips from this episode and every episode, plus my digital series—


Renee Montgomery: All Caps!!


Jason Concepcion: Every Friday. Check it out. Goodbye.


Renee Montgomery: Let’s go!


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