Damian Lillard vs. The Trailblazers, NBA Coaching Carousel + LZ Granderson | Crooked Media
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June 29, 2021
Damian Lillard vs. The Trailblazers, NBA Coaching Carousel + LZ Granderson

In This Episode

This week on Takeline, Jason and Renee react to the latest games in the Eastern and Western Conference Finals, the recent string of NBA coaching hire controversies, and Damian Lillard’s reported unhappiness with the Portland Trailblazers front office. Plus, LZ Granderson joins to talk about Carl Nassib being the first openly gay active NFL player, the wave of anti-transgender legislation in youth sports and his new podcast, Life Out Loud.

Don’t forget to smash the subscribe button at http://youtube.com/takelineshow for exclusive video clips and to watch ALL CAPS NBA. New episodes every Friday!






Jason Concepcion: Mike Breen, in his Mike Breen call way said: Kawhi Leonard, going crazy! And then they cut to him and Kawhi looks like, I don’t know, he looks like he’s waiting for his car to come out of the car wash.


Renee Montgomery: Oh, my gosh.


Jason Concepcion: There was no reaction at all!


Renee Montgomery: None.


Jason Concepcion: He just looked absolutely dead-eyed.


Renee Montgomery: It was crazy. And no one was surprised, right?


Jason Concepcion: No, nobody.


[theme music]


Jason Concepcion: NBA conference finals continue, hoping for a long series, the Bucks certainly look like they have taken control of the series—sorry Renee—from the Hawks after a playoff career high from Khris Middleton, and the Suns are gunning for their first finals appearance since ’92, ’93. First, Renee, we must, we must speak about the Hawks.


Renee Montgomery: Oh, Gosh.


Jason Concepcion: What is your level of concern right now after Khris Middleton’s career game and the Bucks taking a two-one lead in the series?


Renee Montgomery: Well, my level of concern about Khris Middleton and the Bucks are not very high. My real level of concern.


Jason Concepcion: [laughs]


Renee Montgomery: Yeah, no, I’m not I’m not too much worried about that. My real level of concern is that the Hawks just released a statement saying that Trae Young’s MRI came back with a bone bruise on his right foot. That’s my real concern, Jason. Because, again, I said it in the broadcast last night: no one’s figured out how to guard Trae. Everyone thought they figured out how to guard Trae, and then he drops a 40-piece nugget. So it’s like you have a game and he might not—guarding Trae and Trae missing shots are two different things. So do you know Trae’s shot charts and what shots were open? That’s the thing. So coach Nate McMillan talked about in the fourth quarter, Bogi had two wide open threes in the fourth quarter, Trae had two wide-open threes in the fourth quarter. Whether or not they make or miss doesn’t mean people know how to guard them. So Trae talked about it in his presser last night. He said: look, I had a terrible game two, I couldn’t make a shot. Look, I’m an athlete that breaks down the game film. We’ve talked about it when you’re Knicks are playing. Making or missing shots, does it mean somebody’s guarding someone correctly. That means that they’re making or missing shots.


Jason Concepcion: Sure. I agree with that. The Hawks certainly in game two, which was a blowout win for the Bucks, just missed a lot of shots that they would have made. That said, you know . . .


Renee Montgomery: The defense isn’t, I mean, let me get the Bucks credit.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah. Coach Bud gets criticized all the time. He never makes adjustments. And he, they tweaked the defense, they made Tracy bodies in that game.


Renee Montgomery: They did.


Jason Concepcion: Now, I’m not saying that’s why the Hawks missed a lot of shots, but they did tweak it.


Renee Montgomery: They did. And this is survival of the healthiest. We know this and so Trae, what was Trey’s tweak when they just started do all those bodies, Trey made—and this is not even like an exaggeration—he made a 36 footer from the logo in the first quarter, then he went ahead and made a 35 footer to follow it up to make sure you know that he can shoot those on a regular. He made a 28 footer, another 26 footer—they tracked those with the Hawks on the broadcast. So that’s why I say that whether, if like if he would have taken those shots and missed them, the adjustment wouldn’t have been, it wouldn’t have been that the adjustment worked. He just made or missed the shots. Trae in the first three quarters: unbelievable. If anybody’s watching the game is 32 points in 31 minutes. Then he got hurt and everything changed. So to answer your question at the top: yes, the Bucks—I’m not saying that the Bucks aren’t a good team, but I’m usually never worried because I know that we have Trae Young, we know how to make adjustments, we play well together. But right now we have a Bogi that’s running around that he just is not there. He he’s shooting all arms. He’s not the Bogi that we’ve seen. The April showers Bogi were the only person that shot better than him was: Steph Curry was the only player shooting better than Bogi in April. We don’t have that Bogi and now we have a bone-bruised Trae Young, who in his presser, he said: look, I’m frustrated, you know, like it hurts while I play, my first step isn’t my same first step anymore, people are staying in front of me. That makes me concerned. OK, like that’s, now I’m concerned, because now the results of the MRI came back that there really is something there. So, yeah, that—I still believe Atlanta! But whew.


Jason Concepcion: I mean, health obviously has been such a theme of these playoffs. And for Bogi to get hurt, that’s one thing. But then with Trae now, all of a sudden the ball handling is not the same. Trae, you could tell when he came back from stepping on the refs foot that it was, it was different. He was playing off ball.


Renee Montgomery: It was night and day difference.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, and you know, Kevin Huerter, can he pick up the slack? And these are, these are open questions that really change the kind of entire way the Hawks play. But that was such a freak thing. I mean . . .


Renee Montgomery: Like what!?


Jason Concepcion: That was, I just, that’s one of those plays where it’s like, why hasn’t Steph Curry stepped on the refs foot a million times? Like, that’s just one of those weird—


Renee Montgomery: Because they all, it’s called a false step and everybody does it, where you step backwards instead of stepping forward. And, you know, to that point when Trae Young got hurt last time, because he talked about it, he said: I always get hurt by stepping on people’s foot because he does floaters and different things of that nature. Bogi became the backup point guard. I don’t know if people knew this, but when Trae Young got hurt and missed a couple of games, we had Bogi. And then that’s when the April showers happened. And so Trae Young’s hurt, Bogi’s hurt, I mean, Lou Will is going to have to play some way bigger minutes now. You know, we’re going to lean on him. Red Velvet, it’s—I mean, like I said, I’ve never been concerned until now. And it’s not because of an opponent. It’s about health. I mean, we’ve seen that take down the best of the best teams. Look at the Nets.


Jason Concepcion: Let me ask you this. So the Hawks fans have been counting out Giannis’s free throw time, and they’ve been doing, you know, much the same way the Nets fans were doing. And of course, the NBA told the Nets team to stop putting the shot clock up on the up on the jumbo.


Renee Montgomery: Oh, my gosh.


Jason Concepcion: And it was reported that the Hawks, you know, the coaching staff front office were just were annoyed, certainly with the NBA, that, like this rule apparently doesn’t count. It hasn’t really played a role in the Bucks taking control of the series. At the same time, it’s like, is this a rule or not? Like, here’s my annoyance with this. There might come a point in this series where Giannis going over the allotted 10 seconds actually does matter in the course of this series. Is this a rule or is this not a freaking rule? Like I’m so annoyed by this.


Renee Montgomery: It is a real live rule. I mean, like the NBA, when they put out their statement, they acknowledged that they had messed up and missed it one time when it was more than 10 seconds. So it’s clearly a rule that’s in the rule books that’s basically not being enforced. Probably because the referees during a free throw, they probably take their little break, they get their mind together, they catch their breath—they need to start counting, OK! Because to your point, of course, these games are so close, all of them. It’s not like these games are—of course, there’s a blow out here or there—but these are games by one to two point margins. Yeah. We want, especially for a player like that where we saw what had Hack-a-Ben did. You know, the last series with Ben Simmons? He didn’t even shoot a shot in the fourth quarter. So imagine if now you’re starting to get violations if you’re Giannis and now the rule is starting to be called and now they have to sit you. Giannis said himself—shots to Khris Middleton, by the way, because I had yell  at him on the broadcast. I say: calm down, Khris! I’ll say it again. Calm down, Khris! We liked you, OK? Like, you don’t have to do all that. But Giannis basically was like: yeah I don’t mind Khris being the man in the fourth quarter, that’s a two-time MVP saying that by the way. So that was pretty interesting to me.


Jason Concepcion: Did you see when there was a moment late in the game, Middleton was, it was hot on his run and he called a timeout rather than throw it to Giannis, and have Giannis like potentially get fouled because that was the only pass he could make?


Renee Montgomery: Business decision.


Jason Concepcion: I got to say I have, I can’t remember the last time I saw a team where the best player was not the best player for the entire game. Like Giannis obviously in the open court and as a athletic marvel who pulls down rebounds, goes the length of the floor, gets into his spin move and just attacks, attacks, attacks the basket—he’s incredible. But down the stretch of games, it’s obvious, like Middleton can get his own shot in the half court, that’s they go to. Have you ever seen anything like this, where it’s like this two-pronged approach where you have a two-time MVP, MVP-level player who for three quarters of the game is essentially the guy. And then in the fourth quarter, when everything grinds down, you turned it over to a completely different player. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that before.


Renee Montgomery: I don’t know. And that, like to me, that’s crazy because this is a two-time MVP. I just keep saying that because if you’re the most valuable player of the entire National Basketball Association and on your own team—twice! And on your own team, you are not the man in the fourth quarter, I just, like my mind, has a really hard time processing it. Like I keep trying to process it. It’s like that meme with numbers flying around, I’m like, I’m trying to make sense of it, because even as he’s talking out loud at the press conference and they’re saying it, they’re acknowledging it: yeah, Khris Middleton is the man for the fourth quarter—he literally said it. And he said when Khris Middleton retires, that’ll be the saddest day of my career. I just, like my mind, my mind explodes. I just can’t even believe it because it’s like, wow, this is, like when you get MVP, first of all, people need to understand how hard that is to do with players. And it’s hard to make All Star. You know, every year we talk about All Stars snubs—this guy was MVP, and like when it matters most—we know the fourth quarter—when it matters most, the ball can’t be in his hands.


Jason Concepcion: He is a again, a two-time MVP. Forget like, yes, winning the MVP one time is really, really hard, really hard. Winning multiple MVPs is like, that’s, here’s the list. Here’s the list. Kareem with six, Bill Russell and Michael Jordan with five, Wilt and LeBron James with four, Moses Malone, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson with three, Bob Pettit of the old St. Louis Hawks, Karl Malone, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, Steph Curry and Giannis with two.


Renee Montgomery: That’s an elite group!


Jason Concepcion: That’s a handful of players across the breadth of the NBA, and the only person on this list who you would say is not the best player on his own team during stretches of games is Giannis. It’s wild.


Renee Montgomery: So let me ask you something, Jason, when you go through that MVP list and you look at those players, do any of them have a glaring weakness? That’s why it’s so interesting to me. I mean, who would you say has like such a glaring weakness?


Jason Concepcion: You know, Wilt famously struggled with his free throws, but it was a completely different game then.


Renee Montgomery: I was just going to say, I was going to say disregard the old school versus new school in the sense of—but the point I’m trying to make is that, like, when you’re the most valuable player the entire league, that means that obviously your numbers were there, you were the best player. But I just find it hard to understand that a two-time MVP candidate, they don’t want the ball. Khris Middleton would rather call a time out than give a two-time MVP the ball?


Jason Concepcion: Yes.


Renee Montgomery: Oh, my gosh.


Jason Concepcion: I mean, Tim Duncan notably struggled for stretches. I think he has a career free-throw shooting percentage of just under 70. But that’s, again, like leaps better than Giannis. And I have never, I’ve really never seen anything like it. It’s really unique and is again, a two-time, not all, not all NBA.


Renee Montgomery: Right.


Jason Concepcion: A two-time MVP.


Renee Montgomery: Wow. You know you said something that triggered my mind about free throws. Paul George has really received a lot of criticism. A lot of talk has been: Playoff P. You know, and when you self-name yourself, that already gets, that makes it tough. I’m just going to say, like, when you give yourself your own nickname and it’s something as fire as Playoff P, of course, the Internet, the trolls, they don’t want you to thrive. But the reality is, Paul George has struggled late in the game at the free throw line. Now, we’ve seen this a lot. Ben Simmons, Giannis, Paul George. Like what? Like if you’re a superstar, is it just a part of the contract? If we’re paying you X a million dollars, are you supposed to make it? I mean, look, I miss free throws, too. I get it. But when you’re on this level, like, what are your thoughts on that?


Jason Concepcion: I mean, I think it’s interesting because so much of the way we talk about sports is like a re-litigation of these like established legacies. And players like Giannis or KD, what KD did in game five against the Bucks, we look at those performances and we judge them through the lens of basically, Michael Jordan, right? I mean, that’s the way it happens. Like Michael Jordan kind of laid out for right or wrong—we can think it’s unfair or fair or whatever—but Michael Jordan laid out the template of basically what’s expected of a NBA superstar, right?


Renee Montgomery: Yep.


Jason Concepcion: You guard the best guy, you take all the big shots, and you have a very short memory when it comes to your own failures, and you come through when it matters. And you want that moment, you invite the pressure, you don’t run from the smoke, you run toward the smoke.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah.


Jason Concepcion: And so it is in that sense part of what we’re saying about Giannis when we’re like, wow, look at this, is basically Michael would never have done this! You know? And that’s—fairly or unfairly—that is the case. We look at these players through the lens of the greatness established by Jordan, we do it with LeBron too, and you know, LeBron early in his career when he was passing to open guys, we were like: well, why are you doing that? And it was obvious—


Renee Montgomery: Yeah, and he’s a past first player, we still did that comparison.


Jason Concepcion: So I think that to me, when we look at Paul George and when we consider him naming himself Playoff P and all the kind of like the jokes and the memes that came from that, part of that is the fact that we’re not used to players who talk that stuff, then failing. It’s very rare that that happens. Like Tim Duncan didn’t say anything. Kawhi Leonard, of course, doesn’t say anything. Trae Young talks a lot but backs it up and also has that extra layer of kind of like bulletproof ness—


Renee Montgomery: Charisma.


Jason Concepcion: Even when he fails, you know, he doesn’t care. Like he doesn’t care.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah. He says, see you in the A. For instance, when they were cussing them out and yelling at him, he’s like, all right, yeah, I’ll see you in the A.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, he doesn’t care. He could airball, he could airball five straight big threes. And I guarantee you he doesn’t care.


Renee Montgomery: Facts.


Jason Concepcion: But there is something like on the one hand, like compelling and vulnerable about like Paul George, a guy who you can tell really wants to be great.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah.


Jason Concepcion: And has been open about his own struggles with that pressure and with mental health. That kind of struggle is fascinating under the glare created by this template of Michael Jordan’s greatness. It’s just really interesting to view some of the stars that we have, the young stars and the current stars—not LeBron stars, I should say—that we have in the league right now through that lens.


Renee Montgomery: You know, you said something interesting because Michael Jordan set the bar higher than a lot of superstars are reaching in a sense of how often do you see the best player guard the best player? You know, a lot of people were upset in the Bucks-Net series because they were like, why isn’t Giannis guarding KD? He’s in the press conference saying that KD’s one of the best players to ever play the game. And so that’s not, that doesn’t even happen. You might see the match up when it’s like crunch time and the minutes matter, but Michael and them really were guarding the other team’s best players and then dropping a gazillion points on the other end. So I just wanted to say that is different. But to Paul George’s thing, that’s interesting because I think you’re right. And you know what? This is where branding and everything, I remember Paul George released some playoff shoes, some PlayStation type of shoes. Where—


Jason Concepcion: PlayStation. Yeah, those were cool. Actually, I like those.


Renee Montgomery: Those were cool and so there was this whole playoff-PlayStation-P, it was like I, I could see how the brand got all mixed in to where it became Playoff P. But to your point, if you talk about it? Oh my gosh. With the Internet these days?! The Internet is not let you forget anything like nothing.


Jason Concepcion: No, no, no.


Renee Montgomery: And he talked about it and now this is happening.


Jason Concepcion: He’s just a very compelling player to me because in a sense, he can’t he can’t win. You know, it’s like when he misses, when he bricks two crucial free throws, 100%, we’re going to see those memes, we’re going to see those jokes. Then when he plays well, as he has been playing well, like over the course of the series.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah.


Jason Concepcion: Even within that game where he missed the free throws, you really don’t hear about it. You know, he had, he had 23, 16 and 6 in game four and like we don’t talk about it. It’s an interesting situation that Paul George is. He’s a really good player who is, just we will not let him forget the things that he has said.


Renee Montgomery: You talked about interesting players. How do we feel about Kawhi Leonard in the, in the box office? OK, he has his own suite. Now, if this was anyone other than Kawhi Leonard, I would say I think this is pretty unacceptable because even though you’re not playing get your swaggiest outfit, get on the sidelines, talk to your teammates, be there, be vocal, be present. But we all know Kawhi Leonard and his personality type. Is it OK that Kawhi is not on the bench? Like is that OK?


Jason Concepcion: I mean. Really, I should be asking you. I will say that, you know what’s, here’s the thing that I love about the playoffs: Kenny Tthe Jet Smith kind of talked about this, and it was fascinating on a couple of weeks ago on Inside. It’s like the Clippers are in the conference finals for the first time ever. There’s no one on that roster, there’s no coach, there’s no one in that organization who, if they want to say something, will not have everybody’s attention in that moment. Everybody is locked in. You’re in your conference finals for the first time. You’re a, you’re a step away from the finals. If anybody on that squad wants to say, hey, I’m seeing this, they will have the undivided attention of everybody on that team. And that’s part of what makes the playoffs so exciting. It’s that other level that gets unlocked where you really realize, oh. Not to say that players are coasting during the regular season, but there’s a different level of intensity.


Renee Montgomery: Oh, yeah, definitely.


Jason Concepcion: And I think you’re right that we, because of Kawhi extreme reticence, his quietness, the uncanny quietness, and low-keyness that he has, that we just kind of like, we just let this go. Because in that moment, if he was down there on the floor, even though he’s in street clothes, if he sees something, if he sees an assignment, if he sees an opportunity, if he sees something that a player could be doing, he could offer that. And I, 100%, everybody on that sideline will be locked in on what he has to say.


Renee Montgomery: For sure.


Jason Concepcion: And it’s interesting that he’s not taking that opportunity,.


Renee Montgomery: You know, well, that made me think back to, I don’t know if anyone remembers, but when he was playing for the San Antonio Spurs, it became a really big thing that he wasn’t showing up to the facility. You know, Pop would be like, I don’t know where he’s at. You know, it was that kind of like they didn’t know what was going on, and he was kind of doing his own thing. So in the Spurs organization, they didn’t like that. But we all still kind of gave him that same pass, like, well, it is Kawhi. I mean, he’s quiet. He’s the fun guy, sarcastic title that they gave him. But it’s like I don’t, I don’t I don’t see any problem with him being up there. And in the same time, I say that, if that was any other player, I would be like, no way. You have to be on the bench. You have to be present. Even just having you there gives a calmness to the team. If you can go to the huddle and say something, that’s what you do. Even when you’re that superstar leader, if you can’t be there on the court, you have to be there in spirit with them and talk to them and give them energy. I would say that about every single other player in the world. He is the one player that I’m like, huh? I mean . .  .like, you start to like: I mean . . . because you even see how he is up there. You’re like, would that enhanced the bench any? I mean, I don’t think so.


Jason Concepcion: Mike Breen, in his Mike Breen call way said: Kawhi Leonard, going crazy! And then they cut to him and Kawhi looks like, I don’t know, looks like he’s waiting for his car to come out of the car wash.


Renee Montgomery: Oh my gosh.


Jason Concepcion: There was no reaction at all.


Renee Montgomery: None.


Jason Concepcion: He just looked absolutely dead-eyed. Like, nothing.


Renee Montgomery: It was crazy and no one was surprised, right?


Jason Concepcion: No, Nobody.


Renee Montgomery: Like it was like the perfect call in the perfect moment, so if he was doing that on the bench, I don’t know if that would help. Like, I just, I don’t, so then knowing that he would be doing that exact same thing on the bench, that’s kind of what gives him a pass, because it’s like, well, I mean, that’s not helpful.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, don’t bring down the energy. Yeah.


Renee Montgomery: I mean, well, I mean, I don’t think he will be bringing it down. I just don’t think he would be lifting it up. I think that they’re used to his energy like that. He’s, that he vibrates low. I think his teammates see a different him, by the way, too. I want to throw that out there. I think we see Kawhi a certain way but I know his teammates see him different. But also I do know that if he’s in his street clothes, I would assume that he would probably be just sitting there just like that. So, yeah, why not get your own suite, have the family up there, eat some food? Why not, you’re Kawhi? It makes sense.


Jason Concepcion: Renee, in your runs to the title, whether as a professional or as a college athlete, was there ever a moment where like you were, you had a concern, you had something you wanted to say and you stepped up to address the team? And what was that energy like?


Renee Montgomery: Oh my gosh! I mean, I don’t know if there was a time where I didn’t. I’m a point guard. So the point guard, if people don’t know, we talk a lot, we’re like the extension of the coach on the court. And so that’s why it popped in my mind, like, imagine if Kawhi was a point guard or imagine it—


Jason Concepcion: I don’t know how it would work.


Renee Montgomery: You know what I mean? Like, that would, that would have to be a [unclear].  He wouldn’t be in the, he couldn’t be in the suites then. He would have to be down there. But no, I mean, there was plenty of times where if you just, you know, the temperature of your team. I can tell in warmups if our team doesn’t have it or if our team ain’t right. Like in warm ups, if we, I feel like our energy is off, I do a temperature check. I’m like: are we good? Like is everybody good because we got a game to play and we ain’t trying to get embarrassed. Like I just, I’ma just say it. I would be like: we done miss three layups in warmups. Nobody’s guarding us. How are we going to make it in the game? Like snap into it, get into it. Like I would say that, no doubt. But again, it’s so interesting because we’re dealing with players that aren’t necessarily known for their vocal presence. So it’s such an interesting dynamic here.


[ad break]


Renee Montgomery: You know him as the host of sports journalists from places like ESPN, CNN and the L.A. Times. His new podcast, Life Out Loud, aims to preserve the history of the LGBTQ community. It’s available now wherever you get your podcast.  LZ, welcome to Takeline.


LZ Granderson: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited, especially since I know we’re going to spend half the podcast, breaking down what’s in your spot right now.


Renee Montgomery: Oh my goodness. We are not going to do that! Just look at it as a whole. Listen, I wanted to talk to you about some things, because in terms of sports and how it relates to the LGBTQ community, we’ve seen a lot of legislation get passed banning transgender athletes from competing in competition within their gender identity. Now, clearly, this is a manufactured problem because we haven’t seen enough data to prove that this is needed. But how do you see sports’ landscape changing in reaction to these type of legislations?


LZ Granderson: That’s a very good question, because 10 years ago, I would have said that what happens in D.C. and what happens on the field and what happens on the airwaves are still in silos. But one thing that is definitely true post-the other guy’s administration, is that it’s almost impossible now to pull apart these pieces. That if you say, for instance, wore a Tom Brady jersey, you may be making a political affiliation statement now, that you weren’t making 10 years ago. So when I think about the LGBTQ people in general, and these trans kids—these trans youth, specifically to your question, you know, I don’t know if sports, if professional sports or any level sports can begin to have this conversation without also being cognizant of how this will play out politically in terms of will so-and-so so-and-so tweet about me? Will, so-and-so so-and-so say this on Fox News about me, or CNN about me? So I think these things have always been married, Renee, it’s just that they’ve come into a clearer focus because of social media and because of what the country went through over the past five years.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, we’re seeing these kind of tensions play out not just here in this country, but but internationally. Recently, German football stadiums defied UEFA, the European football organizing body, by lighting up their stadiums with Pride colors. You’ve covered sports internationally for a while. How do you see other countries handling what seems to be the more conservative leanings of their international governing bodies?


LZ Granderson: Well, I would say that the world as a whole is responding to these issues in very much the way we are here stateside. Case in point, [unclear] type you’re talking about—forgive me, but I ain’t following German soccer like that, so I didn’t know what the hell is going on, but I do follow Nicolas Kiefer, who is a retired German tennis player, and he simply put up a rainbow flag on his Twitter feed one day. And I was like: no way! Nicolas Kiefer is gay?! Oh, hell, yeah. We in the cut like that! But it wasn’t that. He was just showing support for the community. Because of what you’re talking about right there, and that reminds me so much of the way that we have domestic athletes who will show support for very, you know, a wide range of subject matters using their own social media platforms to let people know: we’re not all like this, we’re not all thinking the same way. So I think there’s one aspect of it where there are certain countries where being LGBTQ, you, can lead to death, right? That is a different conversation to be had because we’re still having sporting events held in those spaces and we haven’t even begun having those conversations. Why is the ATP holding tournaments in countries where LGBTQ people can be killed? Stuff like that. That’s one aspect of conversation. But then there’s what you’re talking about, which is how are citizens navigating this, and how are other athletes navigating this? And I think that one example I just showed, and I know there are other examples of athletes doing what they do here stateside, something happens policy-wide, they got something to say and they’re not afraid to say it and challenge.


Renee Montgomery: Now, that’s true. Athletes are, people are not afraid to say anything any more. Like that time has passed where people are quiet and an athlete that stood up very loud in a post last week was Raiders defensive lineman Carl Nasab, who came out as the only player actively playing in the NFL, that’s gay. And he’s having, like I want to say this to make sure we acknowledge that he’s a great football player, he’s having an amazing career so far, 20 1/2 sacks in five seasons. But what do you make of the rigors involved in the decision making of athletes and coming out? As we’ve seen, sometimes it works well and sometimes you have people like a Michael Sam who just couldn’t find his footing in the NFL after he came out.


LZ Granderson: You know, it’s a case by case basis. And I’m not trying to duck the question, but I think every sport has a different culture and every athlete has a different journey. And so I don’t know what Carl’s journey was. Right? I can make certain assumptions for sure based upon my own experiences in my years of reporting, but we don’t know what it was like for him because he hasn’t shared that yet, that degree. So I don’t know how to speak specifically to him. But what I will say is, having interviewed other NFL players who have come out in retirement, I can only assume the environment that Carl is coming out into hasn’t changed that much from where Dave Kopay was, or [unclear] or, you know, Michael Sam in your case. There are definitely policies domestically that have made things better for us legally. There’s a shift in attitudes that in people’s hearts that have made things better for us culturally. But you know this, Renee, sports is a different beast, man.


Renee Montgomery: Oh, yeah.


LZ Granderson: It’s a work environment, but it’s not a ‘work’ environment, if you know what I’m saying. Like, there are a lot of things that are more acceptable in a sports professional environment than it would be in any other environment, whether you’re on the field or reporter or a commentator or anything. You’re attached to sports. It’s just a different set of rules. So I don’t know how Carl process everything, but it certainly helps that he has that contract.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah, definitely.


LZ Granderson: That’s the thing that’s different. That’s the thing that’s different this time. Michael Sam, he was drafted, he was a late pick, he had a OK pre-season, and then he didn’t make the team. And we can certainly, you know, think about all the different reasons why he didn’t make the team. You know, we can say homophobia played a part. We could say his size played a part. We can say the reality TV show that he was planning on doing played a part. But we can’t definitively say it was homophobia that kept Michael Sam out of the sport. But in Carl’s case, to your point Renee, he’s an excellent football player. He’s got a nice fat ass contract and he’s got the numbers. So what are you going to say? All of a sudden now he can’t play because he’s gay. Come on, now.


Renee Montgomery: Make it make sense. They’ll have to make it make sense.


LZ Granderson: They have to make it make sense.


Renee Montgomery: You said something about like the environment that it was for the retired players. What was that environment? Because you talked about it, but what was that environment that you don’t think has changed that much?


LZ Granderson: The presence of toxic masculinity is still there. The need to project this sort of tougher than tough, tough, tough presence at all times for survival in the NFL is still there. And the reason why I say that is because we are still trying to have an intelligent conversation about mental health.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah.


LZ Granderson: And the biggest, I guess, stigma about mental health as it pertains to men is that if you admit this, that means you’re weak somehow. And that’s mental health, right, which is at this point, you would think basic as hell, and no one would still be trying to push back over this notion that, you know, we need to take care of our minds the same way we do our bodies.


Renee Montgomery: Right.


LZ Granderson: But we haven’t even evolved there yet. So this idea that an entire league, which is still grappling with mental health, which quite hasn’t figured out yet how to handle domestic violence and sexual assault allegations, which is still even processing the fact that Black players who actually have lives outside of the football stadium, and may actually be concerned that if not them, then someone they love may be, you know, confronted with a hostile situation as it pertains to law enforcement—how in the hell are they going to process different sexual orientations? Heaven forbid somebody comes out as pansexual. The NFL might just blow up.


Renee Montgomery: Oh, my gosh! [laughs]


LZ Granderson: Pansexual?!?. What the hell? What is that? Roger. Roger, you ready for a statement? No, no, no. Ignore it. Pretend it didn’t it happen? Pansexual?! What?!


Renee Montgomery: Oh, my God.


Jason Concepcion: Actually we don’t want to speculate on what it was that led Carl to feel like now is the right time. And you mentioned the presence of toxic masculinity within locker rooms. I think, you know, what I’m getting at, is some of my friends who are not like super sports people, right, sports fans—


LZ Granderson: I don’t know those people.


Jason Concepcion: Right. To them, to them they’d said, like, you know, I would have discussions with them about, oh, yeah, there are surely gay players in the NFL and MLB and  NBA. Then why don’t they just come out? Like it’s a totally different world, you know, like what’s the big deal like? Why don’t they just do it? And toxic masculinity aside, what would you say to them as some of the other pressures that are just, that are inherent in sports that aren’t the same in you know, you’re kind of like general office culture?


LZ Granderson: Well, I think, one, the people who are closeted that I know are closeted for a variety of reasons. It’s not just simply, the culture has changed. I know men who won’t come out because they come from a very conservative family background and they don’t want to manage that conversation come Thanksgiving or Christmas. I know men who don’t want to come out because they are concerned about their next contract. Now, of course, these men have been concerned about the next contract for 10 years so I’m giving them the side eye, but nonetheless, that’s what they’re saying. That’s what they’re saying, is that they’re concerned about their well-being. The idea that it’s not a big deal because Lil NasX could get as grind on at the BET Awards— which I highly appreciated by the way.


Renee Montgomery: Oh, my gosh. [laughs]


LZ Granderson: He had me thinking impure thoughts about the young man, he needs cut that out.


Jason Concepcion: [laughs].


LZ Granderson: The idea, though, that we’re there as a culture doesn’t mean that every pocket is there. You know, we’re in the midst of Pride month, and that doesn’t mean that every community has flags waving. That doesn’t mean that every Target has a, has a Pride display. And I can say this because I’ve been to Target in sort of like more conservative parts of the country that were just like going: nah, eh, mmm. And then I’ll be in L.A. and it’s just like [pyew]. So just as there’s different approaches to the displays that a Target may have during this time of month, that’s also true for people’s realities. And so I try not to judge these men. And I’m saying men, because let’s be real about it, that’s what we’re talking about, right? Like we understand that the country certainly has a much more accepting attitude about women coming out in sports than about men. The numbers would suggest it any way. But these men aren’t coming out for a variety of reasons, but it all boils down to one core essential part of all of it, and that’s fear. There is shame and there’s fear. And so when people say, why don’t you just come out? Well why don’t you look at the 250+ anti-LGBTQ bills that have been introduced in this year alone and ask me if that feels good to you. Well, why don’t you go back and just listen to the confirmation hearing for Dr. Rachel Levine and the line of questioning that was being asked about her? We had a US senator in the midst of a pandemic questioning her about a child’s genitalia and mutilation, but not once about the pandemic that we were trying to recover from. So if you’re asking me, you know, “what’s the big deal?” I would simply say to you, you tell me because we just trying to live our lives. Y’all the motherfuckers that won’t let us just live. I’m sorry. Can I curse in this? I’m sorry.


Jason Concepcion: [laughs] Yes, absolutely.


Renee Montgomery: No, this is exactly why your new podcast that out, Life Out Loud, it’s available now—people can hear your personality. You’re hilarious. Tell us what’s in store on future episodes and why this project is so important to you, because clearly you’re a handful and it’s fun to hear.


LZ Granderson: Thank you. Future episodes, I’m actually really excited about the second half of season one, which is crazy because the first half of season one was bonkers, right? Dr. Fauci, M.J., Rodriguez, Dr. Levine—like really, really important figures—Senator Tammy Baldwin. But the second half is where do I get real gully, I think. And it is because—


Renee Montgomery: How did you get gully on ’em? How did you get gully?


Jason Concepcion: [laughs] Did you get gully on Dr. Fauci?!


LZ Granderson: I didn’t feel it was appropriate.


Renee Montgomery: OK, OK so you set it up.


LZ Granderson: So the second half of the season, like for instance, there’s a sports conversation that we actually recorded prior to Carl coming out—listen to me calling him Carl like we boys. I’d never even heard of the dude before last week. But still you in family now, so we good! It was myself. It was Keyshawn Johnson, it was Jason Collins and it was Rick Welts, the outgoing president of the Golden State Warriors, two openly gay men in professional sports and then obviously Keyshawn is an ally. And we just have a real conversation about that intersection of sexual orientation and sports. And we go everywhere. We talk about sex and the shower, we talk about this—not sex in the shower, sex and the shower—just want to make sure no one got confused.


Renee Montgomery: Oh, lawd.


LZ Granderson: I also spent some time talking to this actor by the name of Daniel Newman for those of you who are Walking Dead fans—Daniel came out a few years ago, and we have a whole conversation about his thirst trap videos on Instagram. And then he actually rolled up on my page and actually posted something like I was thirst trapping, and then he at the same day, he posts something up with him standing there in a jockstrap. And I’m like, you have got to be kidding me. Your whole ass is hanging out.


Renee Montgomery: What is going on!


LZ Granderson: And you’re on page so I’m also thirst trapping.


Renee Montgomery: What?!


LZ Granderson: So these are conversations, legitimate conversations that we have, you know, on future episodes of the podcast. But they’re meant to be fun. Right? And they’re meant to talk about things like the male figure and the body and why we act so squeamish about it. And when we talk about men in sports and like, what is it about the idea there’s a gay man in the locker room that makes you so nervous and upset you can’t manage it and that your response is to make sure he can’t be there as opposed to you just doing simple work and figuring out why your homophobia has got you so caught up like that. So we have those conversations and then we get back to some seriousness, because I do go back to interviews with politicians. But there are some real fun conversations in the second half where we have, I won’t say inappropriate conversations because I think all conversations are appropriate.


Renee Montgomery: It sounded like it! It sounded like some of them got a little spicy.


LZ Granderson: Well, you know, I mean, it was Pride girl! We were proud.


Renee Montgomery: Ok, OK. Look, listen, don’t threaten me with a good time. That’s all I I’m saying, OK.


LZ Granderson: It was, it was really, really a lot of joy. And then the very last episode of Season one, right before the Olympics, we talked to gay Olympian Tom Daley and his husband, who’s Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black. And we have an amazing conversation about their marriage, how they met, their value system, they’re raising a child, so parenting, as you know, these two gay dads with these big careers. And we have a lot of laughter and fun with that. So, you know, as much as I love the first half of season one, season two, I think is equally, if not as, as joyous.


Jason Concepcion: Well, he is LZ Granderson. Listen to his podcast, Life Out Loud, on all major podcast platforms. New episodes dropping every Thursday. LZ, thank you so much for joining the show.


Renee Montgomery: Yes, LZ!


LZ Granderson: Thank you guys so so much. And I’m taking a screengrab Renee, because I’m going to break down your background.


Renee Montgomery: Oh, my gosh. Oh, well, speaking of, look at the wifey down there, right there, so when you screen grab that, make sure you get her.


LZ Granderson: Oh! Let me blow that out.


Renee Montgomery: OK!


LZ Granderson: I do feel, but you got to help Jason, though. He’s got way to much New York Knicks stuff behind him. They make one little postseason in 20 years, and he’s like, he threw a whole parade in his whole apartment.


Jason Concepcion: I don’t, listen, it’s like family. Just because someone’s going through a tough time for 20 years, you don’t walk away from them.


Renee Montgomery: You love them anyway. You love them anyway!


LZ Granderson: You all ain’t won a championship since I was in diapers. Be gone with that.


Renee Montgomery: Oh my gosh.


Jason Concepcion: You don’t have to tell me.


Jason Concepcion: Thank you. T.


LZ Granderson: Thank you.


[ad break]


Renee Montgomery: The NBA coaching world was shaken up last week with a flurry of reported moves, including Rick Carlisle returning to Indiana, Ime Udoka landing the Celtics job, Jason Kidd heading to Dallas and Chauncey Billups. This was the story: Chauncey Billups becoming a first-time head coach in Portland. All not without controversy, of course. Now, here’s the thing. He’s a first-time head coach. He also received a five-year deal.


Jason Concepcion: Five years. Wooh! OK, let’s talk about the Billups Portland, Dam Lillard situation. So just to catch everybody up, Portland had a number of candidates, but it certainly seems like Billups was the leader in the clubhouse. He has relationship with GM Neil Olshay, who signed Billups as a point guard with the Clippers back in 2011. And that’s often how these things go, right? Is, is, you know, the front office, he’s the coach as kind of, you know, when any kind of upheaval, disappointment happens, you want to be able, it’s the coach who gets fired first. Right? Because if it’s not the coach, it’s going to be the front office, so there needs to be a high level of trust there. So this is often how it happens. Right? GM has a relationship with a proposed coaching candidate, and that’s the person who gets hired. Then the thing with Billups that became controversial is apparently—and I did not know this, this was, this is one of those things that, like happened like pre-Internet and is a thing that people had forgotten about—when Billups was with the Celtics, this is ’97, he and his teammate Ron Mercer were accused of sexual assault. They ended up settling the case but the the details are pretty troubling. And then when this emerged, along with Billups, you know, being the, seemingly the leading candidate for the job and about to get hired, the discourse online then kind of turned against Blazers star Damian Lillard because it was assumed as the star he would have had some kind of say in who gets hired. And Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports then wrote a story.


Renee Montgomery: Shouts to Chris! That’s my guy.


Jason Concepcion: And Chris is well sourced in all things Damian Lillard so when he writes something about the Blazers and about Dame in particular, it is viewed as being in line with Dame’s own concerns. And this piece, you know, basically said that the backlash from the fan base, from social media about this has Dame rethinking his relationship with the Blazers. There’s a lot to unpack here. First of all, what is your reaction to this story, Renee?


Renee Montgomery: You know, it’s interesting because I didn’t even know about this until it came out, like to your point, and so, you know that though any NBA team, they know every single thing about the person they’re going to hire, just because when you’re hiring people and you’re paying millions and millions of dollars, you do your research. And so, I mean, we know that sports is very forgiving when it comes to domestic violence, domestic abuse. We know that because we’ve seen it happen not only just in basketball, but in football, too. We’ve seen the brightest stars like have murky waters and then it just kind of go away and then we just go cheer on them being a star again. So I’m not surprised. In the same breath, it’s like, are there not other candidates or is that not, like we don’t know all the details of the case, but, you know, it’s such a tough nuance.


Jason Concepcion: So I’ll say this, I, I think that there’s a world in which both the Blazers and Billups thought that this would not be an issue.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah.


Jason Concepcion: After all Billups, he’s been present on NBA broadcasts. He’s been working as an analyst. And again, you and I are extremely plugged in on all things basketball and this was the first we had heard of it. So . . .


Renee Montgomery: Yeah.


Jason Concepcion: In a sense, I guess there’s a world in which, in which both sides could have thought this is not going to come up because it hasn’t. Obviously, that’s not the correct way to think about this. And I think that there is—


Renee Montgomery: But is that OK? Like—


Jason Concepcion: No, that is not OK.


Renee Montgomery: OK, if we don’t get caught . . .


Jason Concepcion: That is decidedly not OK. Now, there’s another argument from you know, you see people online and different commentators saying, well, you know, this case has been settled, nothing else has come up, Chauncey is an upstanding citizen in the years certainly since then, why should his opportunity to be a head coach be cast aside because of something that happened so many years ago? To which I would say: one, I think I’d say that Chauncey Billups has had, in terms of opportunities, has had plenty and is certainly not hurting in terms of like his employment, etc. And that two, really, what we’re saying is you don’t want to look for somebody who doesn’t have this kind of thing in their past? Like no one is saying, send Chauncey Billups to jail—just saying, is there not someone else?


Renee Montgomery: Right.


Jason Concepcion: This is similar thing is going on with the Mavericks right now. Of course, the Mavericks have had a bad record in terms of employees with records of domestic abuse and sexual harassment. And now they are hiring as their head coach, Jason Kidd, who, you know, has a charge of domestic violence against them, lodged by his then wife and then during the divorce, she then raised other issues about spousal abuse. Is there really not another person who doesn’t have that in their past? And what does it say to people who have suffered this, that the world is just willing to let it go if an executive has a relationship with this person and sees them in a completely different light? Those are all things to consider when looking at head coaching positions, a resource and a job that is extremely, extremely rare and competitive.


Renee Montgomery: You know, you ask the question and I know it was rhetorical, but I’d love to answer it anyway. Is there not any others out? Well, I know Becky Hammon. She’s a name, that we know that she’s studying under the best of the best. There’s nobody in their right mind that will say that Pop is not the best. And he’s the head coach of the Spurs. Gregg Popovich is going to go down as one of the best coaches to ever coach in the NBA. She is studying under Gregg Popovich. She has paid her dues. She has sat on the bench. She has done her job well. She has one summer league as the head coach of the Spurs in summer league. She’s done it. She’s, like the resume is there. I’m just curious when we’re asking rhetorically, are there any other candidates? I just have to raise my hand and say, Becky Hammon! Because I just don’t get it in a sense of I know they’re still current openings out with Orlando, New Orleans and Washington, but when you’re weighing the pros and the cons and you know that they do this on the umph level, when you have a lot of money, when you’re running a big business, every single decision you make gets dissected on so many levels. So for, to know all of those things, to your point, we’re not saying put the guys in jail or whatever, but I just want, Becky Hammon, you know. And there’s Teresa Weatherspoon out there, but some people might not, she might not have been coaching long enough. Becky Hammon is one that I just, I know that there’s this coaching carousel where if I know you and I play golf with you and you’re the homie, I hire you. And I think that that’s a bigger problem in a sense, too. But it’s, you would rather have to deal with the media backlash and the fan backlash that’s going on right now, then maybe take a chance on a Becky Hammon. That’s what’s kind of crazy to me.


Jason Concepcion: So now to the Dame Lillard of it all. Have it all here is the first graph of Chris Haynes’s report on Yahoo! Quote “The enormous backlash from the Portland Blazers’ process to hire a new coach and his concerns on whether a championship contender can be built have become factors that may push the franchise player Damian Lillard out the door, league sources told Yahoo Sports.” Now, first of all, it must be said, Dame is 30. He is among the best offensive players in the NBA. Top seven, top six, whatever the case may be. So Dame wanting out of Portland is an absolute earthquake.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah.


Jason Concepcion: The question in my mind is: how much of this, you know, backlash from the process to hire a new coach is legit, and how much of it is Dame Lillard was already looking on his way out, he was already looking for a way to move, right? He’s 30, again, the championship window is closing. His peak, you would assume that age he’d be on the downside of his peak—how much of that is kind of like opportunistic, like: oh here’s an off ramp I see coming, maybe I’ll use this and take this. Because, you know, one thing we know about Dame Lillard is he is really establish a brand, as along with Bradley Beal, of the guy who’s like, I want to do it here, I want to do it here. I don’t want to be like the rest of these players how go chasing rings. I want to make it work in Portland, the team that drafted me.


Renee Montgomery: Listen, I think that he really, like had the pieces fallen in place, I 100% think that Dame Lillard would have started in Portland and retired there. But players start to get fed up along the way of just little things that happen. And it could be something minor one year, it could be the next year. We knew we need a shooter and we didn’t get one, you know, any little things that could happen. And, and then all those little things turn into a big thing. And now all of a sudden he’s saying, he’s tweeting out people that he wants to be the coach. And let me read this tweet he said real quick, because we talked about Billups and he said “Really? I was asked what coaches I like of the names I heard, and I named them. Sorry, I wasn’t aware of their history. I didn’t read the news when I was seven or eight years old. I don’t support those things. But if this is the route y’all want to come at me, say less.” This is, this is terrible for the Portland Trailblazers. I’m sorry, but . . .


Jason Concepcion: It’s not good. [laughs]


Renee Montgomery: This is, the fact that he has to tweet and defend himself on a coach that has just signed a five-year deal? I’m telling you right now, all those little things, all the many million little things, they add up and then Chris Haynes comes in there with a statement and different things, and it’s you can’t be surprised. You know, players just want to win. He’s, we know Dame Lillard is Dame Time. And what we mean by that is we know that he steps up in the biggest moments. He wants to be that guy, he wants to be on the stage, but his teams can never get him there.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah.


Renee Montgomery: I think that right now what’s happening, it’s looking like an exit ramp.


Jason Concepcion: I mean, here is it—just think about it this way, right? Who is the second best player? Who’s the best player that that Damian Lillard has played with in his time as a Blazer? CJ McCollum? CJ McCollum is a nice player, but the kind of running mate All Star-level, second option that like Steph has enjoyed? No, certainly not. That KD is enjoyed? Certainly not. That Kyrie has enjoyed? Certainly not. That LeBron has enjoyed? Certainly not. And that is for nine years now with the Blazers under the, under the run of Neil Olshay. Some of this is on Neil and I understand the fans lashing out regarding the choice to hire Chauncey Billups as the head coach and I understand lashing out at anybody who you thought might have had something to do with it.


Renee Montgomery: Right.


Jason Concepcion: Because it’s a tough decision to defend. That said, this is on, this is on the front office. Whatever, whatever, Dame actually can’t draft up the contracts and send them over! You know, like he may have given a thumbs up or thumbs down or I don’t know, or this guy is fine or I don’t know about him—at the end of the day, the person who sends the contract over is still the front office is still Neil Olshay.


Renee Montgomery: And that, and that’s why I said to that point, you know, millions of dollars goes through these organizations so somebody had to do their, somebody has to do their due diligence. And if that did happen, they need to be telling, Dame, like, I really believe that if you’re going to hire somebody where in this day and age, look at where we are, you know, that matters. There’s civil unrest when it comes to all categories. It’s not just race, it’s equality, it’s rights, like there’s a civil rights movement going on, whether it’s LGBTQ, whether it’s about protecting women, whether it’s about women’s rights. So knowing the climate of 2021 coming off 2020, I think that’s a huge oversight to not at least mention it to your players so that now he’s not defending himself on the Internet. He said, look, I didn’t read the news when I was seven or eight, but your team maybe could have told—like, I don’t know how to tell someone that, but I don’t feel like it’s on Dane.


Jason Concepcion: Well, I 100% agree with you. And this honestly feels like, you know, I was on a group chat about this and someone was like, is it just that, is it that they didn’t know or is it they know and they just kind of don’t care? And unfortunately, I do think it’s the second thing. You know, Neil, is friends with Chauncey Billups. I think we’ve, you can, you can’t really look at sports and point to too many episodes in which incidents like these have meaningfully hurt the, you know, the ceiling of an individual. And so I think that it is, I think that it’s unfortunately not a stretch to think that, not that they didn’t care, but they didn’t think that it would be a meaningful factor—


Renee Montgomery: Yep.


Jason Concepcion: On any level, in the way that the franchise was perceived, in the discussions around it, in the way, in their ability to attract free agents, make trades, deal with other teams. I just think that they didn’t think it would be a hindrance at all. And I think that they would probably look at, you know, the way people have reacted to Chauncey up to this time and thought, OK, well, this thing is is buried, nobody has talked about it, Chauncey’s on TV, nobody’s talking about it, and therefore it doesn’t, it doesn’t move the needle for us. And I think that that is probably what they thought. Fairly or unfairly. I think that, it’s a sad statement, but I think that that’s probably what they thought and they thought it was unfortunately is now—


Renee Montgomery: They thought it was out of sight out of mind, I think, yeah, they probably thought it was out of sight, out of mind and in a sense of it happened so long ago. Like you said, he’s been a great guy since then. And so they probably thought, OK, we’re clear here, you know, we’re in the time frame, we’re good. And I guess this should be a lesson, I think, to all, everyone that, you know, if it’s out there, is going to keep coming back. Like I don’t care how long ago it happened, with the Internet these days. We said it when it came to Paul George: they don’t let anything die on the Internet! It will keep resurfacing forever, almost.




Renee Montgomery: I don’t have to tell you now, you should be a regular listener that listens every week, so when you hear that sound, you know what time it is. This is the stories that we didn’t get in the show, our buzzer beaters. I’ma start this thing out because I’m excited about my buzzer beater. So I’m excited to announce that the Renee Montgomery Foundation, which is my foundation—got real creative with the name.


Jason Concepcion: Whoooo!


Renee Montgomery: We’re launching Renee’s runs, which is pick for women, so that we don’t have to wait for games in the Y to get picked up by dudes, basically. We’re not having that anymore. We’re changing that. So Renee’s runs is going to be pickup games every Monday and Thursday here in the A. The ladies are going to be there. They’re going to ball out. And when I say ladies, I mean hoopers, we’re going to have somebody on the mic emceeing, and we’re going to have vibes and music so we don’t need your runs anymore. OK, we got Renee’s runs and I’m hype about it. Jason, what you got?


Jason Concepcion: I got the movies. I’ve now returned to movie theaters. I am vaccinated. Movie theaters here in L.A. are allowing people in at lower capacity. It’s basically an honor system as long as people are being vaccinated. But I really enjoyed it. I saw In the Heights and then I recently saw F9, the latest Fast and Furious in the theaters. And it’s just great to be like back in a movie theater. It was, it felt really nice to just be sitting there among other people, smelling the popcorn, paying $15 for a drink.


Renee Montgomery: Right!


Jason Concepcion: Watching the trailers, which is like you get to see the trailers.


Renee Montgomery: The best part.


Jason Concepcion: Those are the best ones. It was, it was, I really enjoyed it. It was great to be back.


Renee Montgomery: It’s crazy hearing you say that because as everyone knows, Atlanta, we’ve kind of been open for so long, and hearing you say that. I’m like, wow, that’s crazy.


Jason Concepcion: I mean, I it’s, we you know, I’ve been, I’ve been like a next-level careful. I have asthma. So I’ve always been like, and I’m one of these people that it’s like I think I just read too many, like Armageddon, like Hunger Games books, and watched too many movies. So as soon as, you know, as soon as this—


Renee Montgomery: What in The Walking Dead is going on, Jason?


Jason Concepcion: So I was like, forget it. I went on like full bunker lock-own when this shit happened. Like I bought—


Renee Montgomery: No, I’m laughing. But we did the exact same.


Jason Concepcion: I bought 35 pounds of spaghetti.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah. No, I’m laughing and my family did the same. Like we were like bunkered up. I bought a mini fridge just to store more meat. I was like, we have to have meat! So I got all kinds of frozen—I actually got a mini freezer—had all kinds of frozen meat. I did the same. So I’m glad. Welcome back to society, you know, we have to get back in there.


Jason Concepcion: It’s nice to be back.


Jason Concepcion: Goodbye. That is it for us. Follow and subscribe to us on Apple podcast or wherever you get your podcast. 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, folks. See you next week.


Renee Montgomery: Let’s go!


Jason Concepcion: Go Hawks, baby!


Renee Montgomery: OK!


Jason Concepcion: Takeline is a Crooked Media production. The show is produced by Carlton Gillispie 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.