The NBA Playoffs In Context | Crooked Media
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May 21, 2021
What A Day
The NBA Playoffs In Context

In This Episode

  • The NBA playoffs begin tomorrow after a season that’s played out during a global pandemic and a mass movement against police brutality. To discuss this season in context, we’re joined by the host of Takeline and ALL CAPS NBA, Jason Concepcion.Israel’s security cabinet voted to accept a ceasefire that a Hamas official said would start at 2 a.m. local time on Friday.
  • The full terms of the agreement aren’t clear just yet, but this comes after mounting international pressure and a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
  • And in headlines: police body cam footage released in the violent arrest of Ronald Greene in 2019, two scandals for Andrew Cuomo, and Twitter will open its public verification program.




Gideon Resnick: It’s Friday, May 21st.


Jason Concepcion: I’m Jason Concepcion, in for Akilah Hughes.


Gideon Resnick: And I am Gideon Resnick, and this is What A Day, the podcast that’s like an infographic on Instagram, but talking and also longer.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, imagine a carousel of facts on pastel backgrounds, but instead it’s people’s voices.


Gideon Resnick: I think we explained this really well. I’m proud of us.


Gideon Resnick: On today’s show, the host of Takeline, All Caps, owner of one of the best Twitter accounts on the Web, Jason Concepcion is with us. Thank you so much for joining WAD again today. It is a pleasure to have you, my friend.


Jason Concepcion: It is a pleasure to be part of the WAD squad once again.


Gideon Resnick: Yes. I cannot wait for our conversation. Before we get to that, though, some breaking news to go over. As we go to record, there are multiple reports that Israel and Hamas have agreed to a cease-fire brokered by Egypt, after 11 days of violence. Israel’s security cabinet voted to accept a cease-fire that a Hamas official said would start at 2:00 a.m. local time on Friday. The full terms of the cease-fire agreement aren’t totally clear just yet, but this comes after mounting international pressure and a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. During the last week and a half or so, Israeli forces have killed at least 232 people in Gaza, including more than 100 women and children, according to the local health ministry, and in turn displaced thousands and destroyed infrastructure there. And officials in Israel say at least 12 people have been killed there, including two children. We are going to link to some stories in our show notes so that you can follow all the developments throughout the weekend. And we’re going to return to this and what happens next in the coming days. But now we are doing something slightly different to end the week with Jason joining us today. It is time to pick your brain on the NBA. Are you ready?


Jason Concepcion: I am ready.


Gideon Resnick: OK, so the playoffs begin tomorrow, but this whole season has happened while global pandemic has been raging.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah.


Gideon Resnick: And there has been this mass movement against police brutality, both of which have, you know, heavily impacted the league in a lot of different ways. So how would you sum up how this season has actually felt?


Jason Concepcion: It’s felt disjointed. This second half of the season’s schedule wasn’t even released till after the All-Star Game. You’ve had games happening in a more condensed kind of way, with players not having the opportunity to practice. The disruptions of COVID have meant that there’s just a lot more strictures on the way players can move about. In addition to that, defenses have been down, offenses have been through the roof. There’s been a lot of conjecture that the condensed, the condensed season has led to an uptick in injury rates, although it’s really hard to draw a one-to-one causal link between that. But we that being said, we have seen injuries to some major players. LeBron James has experienced the longest layoff due to injury in his entire career. Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets suffered a season ending injury. It’s just been a disjointed and rocky and chaotic season.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, chaotic, I think is like, is the best word that I think describes it. And all of that is sort of contributed to this perhaps larger conversation about flagging mental health among players. Some of that was in this Washington Post story that I thought was interesting, where people were talking about even the small things of like not having dinner together, just, you know, like talking on the bus, like these sorts of things. So the way that this all went, do we think this is going to change how the NBA conducts itself in the future? And if so, how is it going to impact the way that other professional leagues go forward here? What are we thinking?


Jason Concepcion: Well, I think in general, sports, like every other aspect of life and the economy, has been put under tremendous stress by the pandemic. It has had to answer some really existential questions about the way it goes about its business. And, and, in fact, the very fact that we had a season this season was because, you know, people looked at the numbers and said, we have to play, or else the business could be drastically changed in ways that no one can really predict. And in fact, I think that there have been real structural changes have been put in place this season in the NBA specifically. There’s a new play-in tournament now, that is a new way that teams in the bottom end of the seeding pool are then placed into the playoffs. It started this week. We just saw the Lakers defeat the Warriors in what I think I can authoritatively say is the best play-in game of all time. There have been only four play-in games, but I will, I will go out on a limb and say that that was the greatest play-in game ever in history.


Gideon Resnick: You know, we heard a lot more this year, maybe more than ever, about players being like very candid, I think in a lot of interviews, saying we’re just sort of slogging through this, like we acknowledge this is to keep money in the league’s pocket. I think for me, the NBA has felt more guilt-free than other sports where people tend to end up with traumatic brain injuries for a long time after.


Jason Concepcion: Yes.


Gideon Resnick: Do you think, though, that like all of this that we’re hearing from, from players sort of feeling despondent in some ways about it, is going to change like how we even process this league?


Jason Concepcion: I think that as part of a kind of like holistic questioning of capitalism itself, I think that it’s probably, I would imagine it would be a factor in those kinds of queries. Because, you know, the thing that’s happening in the NBA is the same thing that is happening writ large across the globe, which is a cost-benefit analysis of the risks to personnel, to employees, of continuing a business versus the long-running success of the business as an economic question.


Gideon Resnick: I think that’s absolutely right. And, you know, we will destroy capitalism when the playoffs are over, perhaps.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah. To the barricades!


Gideon Resnick: Yes. After we watch all of the games on our favorite networks. OK, let’s close this out a little Fast and Furious style and have you do an inaugural WAD lightning round. Are you ready, Jason?


Jason Concepcion: I’m ready.


Gideon Resnick: Born ready. OK, what is the most interesting series in either the West or East?


Jason Concepcion: Wow, that’s a great question. I’m going to go with, I mean, this is kind of boring, but I’m going to say the #7 Lakers versus the #2 Suns in the West. The Suns, are the Suns for real? And can they knock off the Lakers?


Gideon Resnick: Provocative question. Another provocative question for you: will LeBron James wear a pirate eyepatch to the first game against the Suns?


Jason Concepcion: I think if they would have lost that game, LeBron James would have immediately come out and said: my vision may never be the same, my eye is basically gouged out and I don’t know what’s going to happen with my career. That being said, I think he’ll, I think he’ll be fine now. But if he had lost, absolutely. He would have been Nick Fury out there in the post-game.


Gideon Resnick: Let’s also get this recorded so everyone can be roasted later. Who is making it to the finals and who is winning?


Jason Concepcion: Real answer is Nets – Clipper’s.


Gideon Resnick: Oh, OK.


Jason Concepcion: Fake answer is Knicks – Lakers. Let’s go. I want it.


Gideon Resnick: OK.


Jason Concepcion: That’s what I want. I want Knicks-Lakers.


Gideon Resnick: I, we can all dream. To, to the point of what’s happening in New York City: Will Michael Rapaport have any further interactions with Kevin Durant or other Brooklyn Nets players throughout the playoffs?


Jason Concepcion: Let’s hope not. He’s like Candyman. If you say his name too many times, he just pops up in your mentions. We only did it once. Let’s just definitely not say it again.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I think that is a good call for the safety of us and the WAD crew. Are the 2020-2021 New York Knicks, the best basketball team of all time?


Jason Concepcion: You know, I think you’d have to say the 86 Celtics, you know, the the 97-98 Bulls, the, the 95-96 Bulls. I’m going to say it is, you know what I’m going to say it is the 20-20 Knicks. They are just incredible. Julius Randle has brought us to a home playoff berth for the first time in 20 years. Like a really, like eight years since our last playoff appearance, and eight years since our last home-court clinching appearance. I can’t believe that it’s really been eight years, and I’m just so happy to be back here. If they’re not the best by record, they’re the best in my heart.


Gideon Resnick: I’m deeply happy for you. Switching to entertainment news: will Space Jam 2 clear 39% on Rotten Tomatoes when it’s released later this year?


Jason Concepcion: I think, I think easily, easily. If you, if you really look at blockbusters like this—I can’t believe I’m giving a serious answer right now—but like, if you really look at big-budget movies, it is extremely rare for them to be like sub 50. I think that it will easily clear 39.


Gideon Resnick: OK, I love that that provoked a serious answer from you. Thank you so much. Last Q: How many triple-doubles is Westbrook going to get in the playoffs, and how many of our nation’s youth are going to be impacted as a result of this.


Jason Concepcion: Watch our PSA from a week ago on All Caps about the dangers of triple-doubles and how they can lead to crack use. I will say that, listen, The Wiz—we’re taping this before the Wizards final play-in game against the Pacers, which is happening, I think, happening right now as we speak. I hope, I want the Wizards to get through and so I’m going to say that Russell Westbrook will get three-triple doubles in the playoffs. If they lose: absolutely cut this out immediately.


Gideon Resnick: Exactly. Yeah. Anything that I say can and should be redacted.


Jason Concepcion: Yes.


Gideon Resnick: Nation’s youth to be on the lookout. Thank you, Jason, for all of your deep insight on Rotten Tomatoes ratings and basketball.


Jason Concepcion: Thanks for having me. -t that is the latest for now.


Gideon Resnick: [ad break]


Gideon Resnick: Hey, WAD squad, if you love the show, you should also check out Pivot, the Webby and iHeart winner for Best Business podcast. It’s hosted by journalist Kara Swisher and NYU Professor Scott Galloway. Whether it’s about how Congress deals with big tech, or Amazon’s expansion into health care, Pivot dives into the heart of what is happening, what comes next and what it all means for you. Listen to Pivot on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.


Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.


[sung] Headlines.


Gideon Resnick: Recently released body camera footage revealed that Louisiana state troopers violently assaulted a Black man in 2019. In the tape, 49-year old Ronald Greene was apologizing to officers for leading them on a high-speed chase. The troopers responded by repeatedly deploying their stun guns and beating him. Greene died shortly after the confrontation took place. Officials in Louisiana have been accused of trying to cover up and hide the details of the arrest, ignoring repeated calls to release the body camera footage. Troopers also initially told Greene’s family that he actually died from a car crash. Jeez. During that time, state police said that the use of force was justified, even though Greene was handcuffed for most of the confrontation.


Jason Concepcion: Huh!


Gideon Resnick: And the only reason we know what actually happened two years ago is because the Associated Press was able to obtain the footage this week. The arrest is still the subject of an ongoing federal investigation.


Jason Concepcion: New York Governor and celebrated author of the book “Beating COVID: How I Did It in July 2020 And I Don’t Think It’s Going to Get Any Worse” or something like that, Andrew Cuomo, was hit with two scandals yesterday—approximately his season average. The first has to do with Cuomo offering priority COVID testing to family members and lobbyists—who are family members of large corporations. This has been reported on before involving test processed earlier last year. But The New York Times now says that members of Cuomo’s family got special fast-tracked tests as recently as last month when most testing facilities were so empty they were in danger of getting turned into Spirit Halloweens. A Justice Department investigation into Cuomo’s fudging of nursing home data has been expanded to include these tests. Como’s second scandal involves his brother and CNN comedy partner, Chris Cuomo—he’s the one without the nipple piercings. The Washington Post reported that Chris participated in strategy calls with Andrew, where he advised his brother on how to respond to sexual harassment allegations. Chris reportedly suggested taking a defiant position, not resigning, and maybe invoking the term, quote “Cancel Culture.” Andrew has, of course, done all three. This is a major violation of journalistic ethics. So I’m going to go elsewhere for my news. I will go back to CNN, though, to watch two insanely influential members of a political dynasty do skits, just as Jeff Zucker intended.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, Jeff has been wanting to hear them talk about their mom’s lasagna for weeks. And we need to give Jeff what he wants. The world’s greatest honor next to Pulitzers and service to one’s country is about to be given out en masse: Twitter announced yesterday that it will resume its public verification program, creating a whole new wave of blue checks to create chaos on the Internet. Now anyone can apply for verification status provided they fit into one of six categories. Are you listening? Those are: brands, journalism, entertainment, sports, government or activism. FYI, you can short-circuit this by becoming an activist to protest not being verified. That is my secret plan. Applications are set to open over the next few weeks and approvals could take only a few days. The public verification process has been shut down since 2017 after Twitter came under fire for verifying a white supremacist.


Jason Concepcion: What?!


Gideon Resnick: You know, it’s hard when there are so many. I am shocked. Twitter says real humans will be managing the applications this time, so that won’t happen again.


Jason Concepcion: Right. The infallible real humans. Yesterday was a big day for people who like their drinks beige and their udders untouched because the Swedish oat milk company Oatly made a successful initial public offering. Shares climbed about 19% after the company’s debut, giving only a $12 billion valuation. God damn! Oatly markets itself as an environmentally friendly alternative to milk and milk substitutes, its second only to Sky Milk—which most people call rain—and that’s helped the company attract a strong following among millennials and Gen Z. Oatly made headlines earlier this year with an intentionally bad Super Bowl commercial featuring its CEO scream singing in a field. That man can now afford to hire every judge on American Idol to tell him to stop.


Gideon Resnick: But he won’t. When he hears: that’s a no from me, dog.


Jason Concepcion: He will not do that.


Gideon Resnick: No, he’s going to keep playing no matter what you say. He’s worth billions. And those are the headlines. OK, before we go, Jason, what is coming up on Takeline.


Jason Concepcion: We’re going to continue to check in on the NBA playoffs. We’re going to have our co-host: WNBA, two-time champion, and co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, Renee Montgomery, talk about her experiences as a new owner in the WNBA. And we’re going to explore the continuing fallout of the European Super League. Shenanigans afoot!


Gideon Resnick: Shenanigans, everywhere you look. You can’t escape them, but you can get your fix of Takeline every Tuesday. Download it wherever you get your podcasts. And that is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, drink Sky Milk, and tell your friends to listen.


Jason Concepcion: And if you are into reading, and not just the thoughts and musings of newly minted blue checks like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Jason Concepcion


Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.


[together] And help Space Jam 2 get certified fresh!


Gideon Resnick: It sounds like, it sounds like you’ll be writing some ghostwritten reviews, Mr. Everything-Clears-50.


Jason Concepcion: It mostly does. If you really look at it, that Tomato Meter, it’s so friendly.


Akilah Hughes: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media.


Gideon Resnick: It’s recorded and mixed by Charlotte Landes.


Akilah Hughes: Sonia Htoon and Jazzi Marine are our associate producers.


Gideon Resnick: Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran, Akilah Hughes and me.


Akilah Hughes: Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.