The Underwhelming NBA Conference Finals + PGA Golf Talk with Mama Concepcion | Crooked Media
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May 24, 2022
The Underwhelming NBA Conference Finals + PGA Golf Talk with Mama Concepcion

In This Episode

On this week’s episode of Takeline, Jason Concepcion, flying solo after a week off, is joined by Zach Harper (NBA writer for The Athletic and host of Cinephobe, Count the Dings & Sirius XM’s NBA radio) to discuss the NBA conference finals ahead of what could be a series ending game 4 between the Warriors and Mavericks on Tuesday night. Then, Jason phones his mother to talk about Justin Thomas’ win at the PGA Championship over the weekend and other recent news around the PGA Tour. Producers Ryan Wallerson & Zuri Irvin join the show to discuss the fallout from the racially charged incident that took place over the weekend at Yankee Stadium between Josh Donaldson and Tim Anderson of the Chicago White Sox.


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Jason Concepcion: If David Stern was still alive, he’d tell Scott Foster, Work Your Dark Jedi magic and get these series to six or seven and he would do it..


Zuri Irvin: Yeah, that’s what we’re missing.


Jason Concepcion: That’s what we’re missing is David Stern would never let this happen.


Jason Concepcion: Hello and welcome to Takeline. I’m Jason Concepcion on the mend from the novel coronavirus COVID 19. We’ve got a wonderful special episode for you this week. I’ll be joined by Zach Harper, great journalist and podcaster of The Athletic host of Cinephobe, Count the Dings, Sirius XM’s NBA Radio and others. The number one golf fan on the planet, my mother, will join me to talk about Justin Thomas’s win over Will Zalatoris in a playoff in the PGA Championship over the weekend and other recent news in the PGA Tour, including her hatred of Phil Mickelson. And then we’ll get into the latest from what has been a disappointing, at least from a entertainment standpoint, a conference finals both in the East and West with producers Ryan Wallerson and Zuri Irvin.




Jason Concepcion: And now let’s get into the show. So this Saturday, the Chicago White Sox were at Yankee Stadium and a kind of scrum broke out that ended up clearing the benches. And in the course of that, Josh Donaldson and Chicago’s Tim Anderson had to be separated, yelling at each other later, come to find out that they bumped Tim Anderson was that Josh Donaldson had referred to him as Jackie, a reference to the pioneering Major League Baseball star and American legend Jackie Robinson. And Josh Johnson has apologized for that. None other than Tony La Russa, of all people, deemed it a racist event, which was, I think, surprising to a lot of people when when Tony La Russa is the person who’s calling out something that is untoward. And there followed a conversation on social media through various other channels about. What exactly the nature of this comment was. Josh, for his part, said, Hey, this is a reference to a 2019 Sports Illustrated story in which Tim Anderson referred to himself as the new Jackie Robinson. Again, a three year old Sports Illustrated story to help me unpack what exactly happened. Our super producers. Zuri and Ryan. Zuri and Ryan, welcome.


Ryan Wallerson: How we doing?


Zuri Irvin: Hey there. Kind of a dismal story to start with, but.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah right, really dismal story and a really kind of like one of those things that was like. You just get, like, exhausted having to explain to people why this was fucked up. Zuri, let’s start with you. What was your reaction to this? Well.


Zuri Irvin: Josh Donaldson is kind of an asshole all around the league. We were just joking about how many teams he’s been on in the last few years.


Jason Concepcion: Six, seven teams, former MVP, 2015 MVP.


Zuri Irvin: It feels like it’s about 20 years ago.


Jason Concepcion: There’s something there.


Zuri Irvin: There’s something there. Look, I’ll just start with, like, baseline takeaways. One is, if someone tells you that they were offended by something, then they were offended by it. And it’s not really up to you to litigate how offended they were or whether or not it was offensive. And two, Tim’s using the term Jackie as a term of reference and a term of endearment and something that he’s aspiring to. Josh is using it to belittle Tim Anderson, so they’re not using it in the same fashion. But what Josh liked to do, or it seems like he wanted to do after was equate the way Tim’s using it with the way that he’s using it and and Josh is using it as a term of derision. So I think I mean, we can we can unpack exactly why this is wrong. But I think just at the surface level there, they’re not using it the same way. And he didn’t his intention is not the same as Tim’s. So it’s it’s unfair to to say that that’s what it was. And I think that’s what Josh is trying to do.


Jason Concepcion: Josh, his defense essentially was, you know, I’m doing the thing that often happens in sports and MLB in particular, which is whenever someone is acting too full of themselves, I’m cutting them down to size, you know, making fun of them. It’s, you know, the clubhouse behavior thing that happens often in the culture of MLB where kind of being too braggadocious is heavily frowned upon. We can unpack as we have this conversation whether that particular framing is accurate. It’s not. Ryan, your thoughts on this?


Ryan Wallerson: As a Yankee fan, I actually happened to be listening to this game live. Yankees are a good story, best team in baseball record wise, and I haven’t been paying too much attention to them. This was actually one of the first opportunities I’ve had to listen to a game in full, and it was really weird listening to John Sterling try to explain to people live what was happening because it started with a conversation between Anderson and Donaldson and then it spews out to players talking on the field and pointing into the dugout. The benches clear. Pop pinstripe has.


Jason Concepcion: It’s a racist remark.


Ryan Wallerson: He has no idea what’s going on.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah.


Ryan Wallerson: And he’s been making a lot of mistakes this year. So I think he was pretty guarded about.


Jason Concepcion: John Sterling.


Ryan Wallerson: John Sterling. About trying to like figure out, assume, not make too many assumptions. But it was just a really ugly situation and as it unfolded and the information came across social media it’s just one of those really unfortunate situations where as a Yankee fan, I just have to roll my eyes and be like, Why are we like this? Why are we doing this again? The fans have had a lot of bad moments this year. We’ve already come out and put our black eye on this situation coming out, chanting Jackie, like, it’s just it’s asinine. It’s unfortunate. It’s taking away from, for me, what was a good season. And, you know, I’m frankly, I was happy to see the White Sox sweep us in that doubleheader. And the fact that Tim hit that big three run shot in the second game.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah that was nice.


Ryan Wallerson: Poetry. In that moment, I was rooting against my Yankees, which is a very rare thing.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, I think, you know, a lot of Yankee fans were in my mentions being like the context of this is he literally felt like he was today’s Jackie Robinson said he’s the new Jackie. So here’s the rest of that story from 2019. The rest of his comments, quote, I just use it as motivation. All the things he went through, Jackie, we all know the negative things he went through. So just being thankful for the moment and for him paving the way for us as well, continue to go out and continue to have fun of it. There’s not really many black kids in our league, so we’re going to do it. We’re going to motivate these kids. We’re going to inspire them. That’s something I take pride in and I definitely always look forward to wearing 42. So that’s the context to it. And I think deciding I’m going to make fun of this guy for that is a thing that speaks for itself on a kind of more general level. I am profoundly uncomfortable with the idea that white players or non-black players in general could keep the ability of a black MLB player to compare themselves and be inspired by Jackie Robinson that. Feels wrong to me and kind of like on a on a like a general. Level of of the way society works. I think this incident really encapsulated why it’s so fucking hard to talk about race with any kind of judiciousness in our society. It’s like. As a person of color, I have experience and I’m sure like everyone here is experienced people in social and or work contact saying shit that’s like out of pocket, that’s inappropriate, that’s racist. And a lot of times when you hear that, you just let it go because you know what will happen if you confront it. It will just become a whole thing. It doesn’t matter how gently you say, Hey, that was out of line. The way people react to hearing that is, I’ve just been called a racist.


Zuri Irvin: Mm hmm.


Jason Concepcion: I’m going to lose my job. Everybody’s going to think that I have a fucking KKK hood in my closet. I’m being attacked, and I need to go on the offensive and explain where I’m coming from. Which is kind of what Josh did, which is like try to explain, like, here’s my intentions. I’ve said it numerous times. That was part of like the defense is like, oh.


Zuri Irvin: It didn’t make him come out any better.


Jason Concepcion: How is it crazy defense. By the way, this was not an isolated incident, I want to tell you that. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ve said this numerous times, like as a way to say like, oh, no, we’re cool like saying this, you know, like, and It makes it so hard. And the thing that I it just exhausts me about this, right, is when the person gets sensitive, then all of a sudden it becomes about them. The conversation. We watched it happen. It didn’t become about Tim how did you feel about this? What were you feeling when you heard that? Why were you offended by it? Tim maybe like, why did you let it go the other time that Josh said it? Like what was like? We don’t unpack that. It becomes all about Josh Donaldson and his feeling and his intent. Like, I had numerous people being like, you know, that wasn’t the intent. He wasn’t meaning to be racist, which fine like people who are not.


Zuri Irvin: You can be accidentally racist.


Jason Concepcion: It can be an accident or you can be accidentally racist, right? Like you can say something and not and like, listen, we’ve all said stuff that is out of pocket probably at times. That doesn’t mean like we’re homophobic slash, transphobic slash racist. Like you just say you apologize for it. You move on you go you know what? I slipped up there. You caught me slippin.


Ryan Wallerson: And when you apologized, the best defense is no defense, just the apology.


Jason Concepcion: Exactly right.


Zuri Irvin: We should. We should.


Jason Concepcion: Go ahead.


Zuri Irvin: No, I’m sorry. Finish your thought.


Jason Concepcion: Okay, but. But the way these things always go is when people say, oh, you know, that wasn’t the intent. Like the intent matters. First of all, I’m not fucking Professor X. I can’t read people’s minds. Nobody can. But second of all, why I reject the the intent framing is because now it makes it about the person who said the thing and their feelings and what they’re going through with everybody attacking them because they said this thing when it should be about the person who was offended and what they heard and how that hit them. Instead, that conversation’s gone. We’re talking about fucking Josh Donaldson now and like what he’s going through instead of Tim. And and and. And lastly and then I’ll move on. Is it also puts the entire fucking onus of explaining to everyone why and educating people about why this is offensive on the person who has been offended. And that’s just honestly so fucking tiring. It’s so tiring to have these conversations all the time about like, well, here’s okay, here’s why. Go back and look at here. Now you have to go back and read this article that came out three years ago. Did you read it? Let’s unpack it now. Here is why Jackie Robinson has a special place in the in the minds and hearts of black ballplayers. Like, you have to do this entire thing. And it’s like exhausting. It’s exhausting.


Zuri Irvin: It’s wild. And you have to explain it to a major league baseball player that being Josh Donaldson. We should note he did get a one game suspension. Major League Baseball is less than 8% black. Tim Anderson plays on the south side of Chicago.


Jason Concepcion: This is down from 20% some 30 years ago.


Zuri Irvin: Mm hmm. Yeah. I don’t I don’t know if there’s a better player suited to take on the mantle of increasing those numbers and getting more African-Americans enthused in the sport. And then lastly, I mean, on a much like simpler leve. This reminded me of a bully, you know, like a bully might think that he’s your friend and maybe he’s he’s pushing you around or he’s stealing your lunch money but he think he goes home and he thinks like oh thats my buddy.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, we’re cool with it, we’re cool. We have this joke with each other. Yeah. Right.


Zuri Irvin: He likes when I chide him like that. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But that, you know, on some level that’s what this reminded me of. But it was nice that we mentioned Tony La Russa we mentioned some of the other players on the field. It’s nice that a lot of people did come to Tim’s backing.


Ryan Wallerson: Yeah, no, I did appreciate that about this whole situation. Like people reacted correctly and like we’re uniformly rejective of this entire situation, which is the only way to react to it.


Jason Concepcion: A little bit more and then I will stop my rant. The other thing that I hate that it just feels like a trap, you know, because we talked about how because of the friction people know they’re going to get when they confront something that’s out of pocket, they often let it go. But then the trap of that is when you do confront it, often it’s because you’ve had enough and now you’re emotional. And now that plays right into the stereotype of, oh, you’re the emotional one. You’re the one who sees race everywhere and blows up. Yeah, and, and, and it sucks because when I’ve been in those situations, you can feel it happening, you know, hey, I right now and that stereotype, I can feel myself doing it and it’s like you can’t escape it and it just feels like a no win situation when this should be the easiest thing in the world. Hey, don’t do this. Don’t, don’t make fun of a guy because he idolizes Jackie who is black.


Zuri Irvin: Right.


Jason Concepcion: And also, finally, Josh and Tim have been separated before. This is not the first time they’ve been separated numerous times. We talked about it. Josh Donaldson, the 2015 MVP, has been on numerous teams. The idea that like, oh, we have this friendly inside joke that’s no, stop, that’s not the case. You knew you were ragging on the guy, right? You knew this was not like.


Zuri Irvin: You didn’t do it after he hit it a homerun or after he stole a base


Jason Concepcion: Yeah. This was not all of this was not like a friendly ha ha ha we’re buddies thing again. You guys have gone chest to chest before. This was something else. So I don’t even I don’t even buy that excuse.


Ryan Wallerson: Absolutely not. He’s he’s in quicksand. He should have just taken the egg on the face, not tried to put it in any context. Just apologize, taken the suspension and kept him moving. Now, with this explanation, he has people trying to come to his defense. And frankly, I think that eventually he’ll realize that’s not a great thing.


Jason Concepcion: I mean, he did it again. He did apologize, although it was “if Tim was offended, I apologize.” Tim was obviously offended. So just apologize. Like, to your point, Ryan, I think the thing I’ve learned in my life is, listen, society changes, right? Whether it’s our evolving consciousness on trans issues, LGBTQI issues, social justice, etc.. Nobody’s saying like you got to be the wokest motherfucker, about everything that’s happening like you’re going to you’re going to mess up sometimes, right? That’s just what’s going to happen. You’re going to refer, you know, the wrong pronoun. You’re going to you’re going to use it a term that’s that’s unconsciously like derogatory to indigenous people or someone. And the best thing to do when you do that is to just go, hey, I’m sorry. Like, thank you for checking me. I didn’t mean to say that. And I apologize.


Zuri Irvin: Yeah.


Jason Concepcion: And then. And then it just goes away.


Ryan Wallerson: Scene.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah. Like, that’s all anybody’s asking for is. Hey, thanks. Thanks for checking me on that. Like, I didn’t mean to do that, so thank you for letting me know that. And I’ll. I’ll be better in the future. That’s all anybody wants. That’s like, all anybody wants. Because the last thing I want to do and anybody ever wants to do is, like, go through this whole rigamarole where you have to educate people about what’s offensive and why. It sucks to do that. In other news, we’re recording this on Monday night. This particular segment and the Boston Celtics just defeated the Miami Heat. 102 – 82. It was not that close. Like, at one point in the third quarter, the heat had like 37 points. It was just a thorough, thorough, thorough, beat down. It’s now a two, two series. It’s crazy to me that the Miami Heat have won exactly two quarters out of the 16 that have been played in this series, but somehow have two games. So that’s a credit to them. But, you know, you can be old, right? A veteran team and you can have a short rotation. But it’s really hard to have both of those things because you just have no margin for error. And Jimmy Butler is very obviously laboring with the with the swollen knee. Kyle Lowry is hindered by by injury, but playing trying to play through it. Tyler Herro did not play. And that’s your three primary creative forces, primary ball handlers. And without that, you know, it’s, I guess not a surprise that Bama with a bye only takes five shots to the hero of of game three. And it all equals just like an absolute beat down by the Celtics. It was just it felt like there is no way the heat we’re going to get back into this and they absolutely didn’t. No magic for Max Strus who is oh of seven in this game Celtics really just ran him off the three and you know without without Jimmy Butler with some kind of athletic edge or Kyle Lowry able to like sneak into the lane to get through his shots. It was just not going to be his day. Your thoughts? Zuri? Ryan?


Zuri Irvin: I when I’m looking at Kyle Lowry, first and foremost, I feel like this is the exact moment that they got him for. And we know every team is dealing with injuries, but I think we’re going to look back at this as kind of a bust. Also, Jayson Tatum playing with a stinger in his arm. I know that if I had that in my arm, I probably would call out sick for work for two weeks. And he’s just playing playoff games and contributing. I think we should credit him for that.


Jason Concepcion: I thought he had popped it out like the way when he was laying there and like screaming in agony, like the way his arm was, it looked like it had twisted and popped out and I thought like, oh shit, surely they’ll pop it in, but there’s a chance we may not see him this game and maybe another game. So I was really shocked to see him come back in like that looked like more than a quote unquote stinger to me, and not in the way that like, you know, Marcus Smart’s one of the great actors that we have. Marcus Smart looks like he’s dying on every other play. But like with Jayson Tatum, that looked legit. So, you know, obviously the Celtics are dealing with their things, too. But I just think the Heat had a short rotation all year and are just an older team and that’s just less of a that’s less of a margin for error that they have.


Ryan Wallerson: You know, we keep talking about Jayson Tatum in this postseason and how he’s kind of reintroducing himself to the annals of the NBA elite conversation. And I think that this was another this is another feather in his cap toward that argument. You know, the stinger looks the way it does, and we don’t know how he’s going to perform in this game. And then he comes out in the first half, like specifically, he just like destroys Miami in the first half and then says, All right, I can’t play a whole quarter like is 24 at the half and finishes with 31. Like once the job is done, he’s like, Take me out, hit the role. Players finish this up and let’s get it up again in Miami. I think it’s really impressive the way that he came out, like both from the field, 50% from the field hitting almost all of his foul shots. Like I’m impressed by the performance, but also like we do have to take it all. You know, we have to take all stats into account. The Celtics shot terribly in this game, specifically from behind the arc and Tatum is included in that. I think he was one for seven from the three point line. Sounds like it wasn’t all working for him. It wasn’t all working for Boston. But the fact that they were able to do this to Miami under those circumstances, as you guys say, for the reasons of the failures of the of the starting rotation and the lack of depth and then the injuries, everything was kind of trending downward for Miami. While I feel like Boston, they won this game, they tied the series and they did so not playing their best basketball. We’ll see what happens moving forward. But it’s going to be a tough assignment for Miami.


Jason Concepcion: I mean, I think that the blueprint that Miami has to win is basically the one that’s available to them for the rest of this series, which is they just have to make it so fucking ugly that they have a shot. You know, that’s how they’ve won the two quarters. And the two games that they’ve won is, you know, game one was incredible defense. You know, steals and blocks and just like cutting off the rim and turning those into live ball turnovers that then they went down and scored and then as you know, game three was was just a a monumental performance by Bam and a lot of steals and a really physical game. So that’s what they’re going to have to do. And I just feel like the issue is at this point attrition because that physicality cuts both ways and the heat look like they’re fucking limping in and out of the arena. Zuri?


Zuri Irvin: Okay, let me ask you guys this: is one of these things true? Are there too many series in the playoffs? Is there too few time in-between games or is the regular season too long or none of those?


Jason Concepcion: Well, I think I’ll take it. I’ll take it in somewhat discombobulated order. Of course, there are too many regular season games. We’ve known that for a long time. I think everybody knows that. Like, I think the owners know it. I think the league office knows it. The players know it. I think everybody is aware that there are too many games. The issue is, we have said in the past is if you lose ten games, eight games, whatever it is. Who makes up that eight games worth of gameday income and how does that fall and who takes responsibility for that? Nobody wants to be the the group, the players or the owners want to be the group that takes the hit for that. And so it’s a nonstarter because there’s no way that they’re ever going to come to an agreement on cutting games and losing money like no one wants to. Everybody wants to agree that we should lose games, but nobody wants to lose money, so therefore we’re never going to lose games. Should there be more time between playoff games? I guess, you know, I’ve always been a fan of. When you change to the different arena, when you go to the road, an extra game in there to give an extra padding for for travel and such. But I also think that. It is just a function of of. The structure of these two these particular two series with the Mavs warriors. What you had was a team, the Mavericks, that was not expected to win against against the number one team in the league. Suns. Right. And so they shocked everybody and much like, you know, with the Portland Trail Blazers year after year and in recent years anyway, once they unseat the stronger team, they’re at a disadvantage in the next series because they just are not as well rounded as the team that they beat. And then with with the Heat and the Celtics, you have a you have a Heat team that is just one kind of older and too banged up and bagged up in a bad way. And so I don’t. And be nice if they had some extra time. But I don’t necessarily know it. Maybe that helps the Heat Celtics series, but it certainly doesn’t help that the Mavericks series, Mavericks Warriors series where you see it, a Warriors team that is just kind of bullying a overmatched Mavericks team like Luka, doesn’t have anybody that he can really depend on as their secondary person. Like Maxi Kleber is lost in the fucking wilderness. Like Jason Kidd has no choice but to play him because there’s like nobody else that can go out there and do anything. And Maxi Kleber doesn’t want to shoot and needs to shoot and can’t for some reason react and recover on defense. So that’s like an absolute fucking disaster there. And it’s unclear who Luka’s second best player is going to be on any given night. They just don’t have enough.


Ryan Wallerson: I almost felt bad for Mavs fans as the Knicks been watching Bullock throw brick after brick after brick. I was just like, that’s right. I know it hurts more because it’s the Western Conference finals, but this is what you got. We know.


Jason Concepcion: At least Bullock like was he was a little timid to pull the trigger later in the game. But like at least, at least he was still shooting it. Maxi looked like absolutely terrified to shoot the ball at this point, like and I feel bad for them and I feel bad for Reggie Bullock, who is like one of the best people, like in the NBA, like a great guy.


Ryan Wallerson: I love I love Reggie, I love Reggie. But I also know that he’s a streaky shooter.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah. And it’s just very tough but I but you know like it’s a good point Zuri in that like, it’d be nice if there was a little extra rest, but I don’t necessarily know what that helps, you know, it’s just this is the way it goes sometimes.


Zuri Irvin: You know, it’s worth a shot. It I would trade it in if we could have the NBA season end in August. But the playoffs last two months and we get one game a week and it’s like a prime time NFL Sunday kind of thing. But each of those games is absolutely magnanimous and there are no 20 point blowouts. I would the season end in August, and I’d have no problem with that.


Jason Concepcion: If David Stern was still alive, he’d tell Scott Foster, Work Your Dark Jedi magic and get these series to six or seven and he would do it..


Zuri Irvin: Yeah, that’s what we’re missing.


Jason Concepcion: That’s what we’re missing is David Stern would never let this happened.


Ryan Wallerson: You know, it could help. I mean, elimination of travel is like adopt a major League Baseball’s playoff schedule where it’s just two, three, two as opposed to the 2 to 1 game, because that’s a lot of unnecessary flights.


Jason Concepcion: I don’t hate the two, three, two. Of course, that was like a staple of the finals for many years when particularly because the league was going between Boston and L.A. so much and, you know, 1980s travel technology being what it was, they went to the two through two I the thing I don’t love about the two, three, two is it’s like when the road team gets one of the first two games, it feels like it feels like a lion’s den that the home team is going into, you know, the higher seeded team. It just feels like, holy shit, this is an an immense advantage for the road team.


Ryan Wallerson: You split, you split the first two and you basically were in the driver’s seat the rest of the series.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, it’s it becomes like a real hill to climb. That said, maybe that’s something to look into. I don’t know. I feel like in the age of charters, it’s not that big a deal. But like, you know, an extra game in there maybe would be nice, but like to go back to the first thing. It just should be like a 72 game season, especially with the fact that we’re now talking about a midseason tournament. More games onto the pile. Like there needs to be a way outside of load management to just cut down on the structure of these games. There’s just too many games. There’s too many games, period.




Jason Concepcion: The second round of the playoffs was super exciting with lots of surprises and stuff and then the conference finals have started and it’s just a different it’s just a different energy. It’s just a different vibe. We had we have not been able to have a close game as of yet. And to help unpack all of this is a great friend of the pod, a great human being in general, one of the most talented people out there. His ad reads, are impeccable. Folks, it’s Zach Harper, NBA writer for The Athletic, host of Cinephobe, Count the Dings, Sirius XM’s NBA Radio and all that. Zach, welcome back. How are you?


Zach Harper: Thank you for having me back. I will sell anything. I will add, read anything. It doesn’t matter the product. I will do it. If you want to send me an ad read, I will read it for money. I am not above hocking dick pills and in fact, I prefer it.


Jason Concepcion: All of it.


Zach Harper: I prefer it.


Jason Concepcion: All of it. It’s rare and I’m not even I’m not blowing smoke. They’re really great. Like you do a great job. People don’t understand how awkward those could be and you crush it.


Zach Harper: Thank you. I feel like, look, it’s part of the podcast, right? And if the goal is to get someone to not skip ahead 30 seconds, then I’m going to try to put a little bit of something into it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It kind of depends on some of the copy. I did one recently where I’m just I’m going over what I have to read and I was like, this is this is a skip. This is going to be a skip. I would just say this to all the copywriters out there. Stop. Just stop making bad reads. Just give us some material to use.


Jason Concepcion: I could not agree more. Let’s get into these conference finals. Let’s start with the game that happened last night.


Zach Harper: Yeah.


Jason Concepcion: Heat – Celtics Game four. The Heat simply got trounced. I have one order of business to get to a little bit before that. You are an expert in heat culture. Yeah, you are a miami as a geographic location aficionado. The Heat famously have a body fat stipulation that they that that is very rigorous. Does Kyle do they just, like, let that slide for Kyle Lowry? What’s the deal with it? It is really good.


Zach Harper: It’s interesting, right? It’s a great question, because famously, like James Johnson, right. Who’s like one of the most sane athletes you would ever know, he didn’t meet the body fat requirement by like, yeah, they’re like, oh, he came out of shape. It’s, you know, he missed it by like 0.4 percent or something like that. But you missed it. And you look at it and there’s there’s just something where Kyle’s like, Yeah, I’m not doing that shit. Like, I look, I wonder. I’ll be there. But let’s just imagine. He’s just like, let’s just say 60% of my body fat is in my ass. Like, like, let’s just say that, and we can all move past it and let’s just look the other way. When I’m changing shirts in the locker room, like, it’s it’s fine.


Jason Concepcion: This series has been extremely physical. The Heat have won all of two quarters out of the 16 that have been played. Somehow I have two games in the win column, the series at 2 to 2, but the sense you get watching them is that the lack of of real depth plus the attrition of playoff time plus these are kind of older guys that are banged up and you just feel like it’s going to be really tough for the Heat to win this series. Your thoughts on on on the last game.


Zach Harper: I actually feel pretty good about the heat despite. An 18 to 1 start threw like five and a half minutes of play in which Derrick White I was like. Derrick White is going to outscore the heat in this quarter like this is unacceptable. Also shouts to him, his and his wife out of the blue on a new child. I guess it’s the Fred VanVleet bump. I feel I actually feel pretty good about them because I think that that team, maybe them and the Warriors are the two teams that can absolutely just let a stinker completely go like within an hour of of the game. I think they’re capable of just letting it go. Boston seems to be doing that to Boston is has been incredibly resilient. But I think like the history of the heat, the history of the Warriors shows a little bit more than that in that department. But. Yeah. This is a this is a team that’s supposed to be able to execute however they want. They’re supposed to be bullies. And by the way, like they got through the hawks and whatever the hell that was with Philadelphia, I don’t see the same war of attrition with them as like the Celtics who just got through Giannis. Right. And sure, there was no Khris Middleton but but they just got through Giannis and the Bucks in a way more physical series. And so I actually think the Heat are kind of they tapped out early last night they just didn’t bring it I think they got their their game in Boston feel like all right we have home court advantage but they are just one quarter away from snatching the Celtics pride every single time like it’s it’s weird how they’ve now when I mean I don’t want to correct you on your show but you rudely did not give them the fourth quarter of game four, which they won by four points. Okay. They tied they tied quarter three. They won the fourth quarter by four points thanks to Duncan Robinson hitting three pointers. Okay. I think Omer at seven got in there. I’m not sure actually. But there is you know, that’s three quarters now. But it’s weird how they can just kind of meander for three quarters, have that one demolition quarter and then the other teams like, what the hell just happened?


Jason Concepcion: Yeah. I mean, I guess. I guess for me it just feels like the way they have to offensively. Uh, particularly with Hero out, it’s just going to be harder for them to find their points. Yeah. And so, you know, the way they’ve won in this series has been we’re just going to get insanely physical. We’re going to disrupt you, we’re going to we’re going to get 19 live ball turnovers. We’re going to be wildly physical in the paint and we’re going to get turnovers. And that’s how we’re going to go to the other end and start scoring. And it just feels like, man, that that physicality cuts both ways and it takes a toll. And you’re at you’re right. I mean, they got they got some nice minutes out of, you know, Duncan Robinson and and Martin. But it just feels like it has to become so ugly for them to win like they have to make it.


Zach Harper: Yeah.


Jason Concepcion: It has to be a grappling match for them to get in this.


Zach Harper: Isn’t that weird the like and I think this could probably end up like biting in the series. If they do lose the series, I think it is because they’re looking for that kind of street fight mentality and then sometimes they just forget to punch. But it feels like it feels like they’re showing up to the DMV without an appointment and loving it. They just like, who knows.


Jason Concepcion: What’s going to be like like, yeah, now I either talk my way into getting my new tags or I don’t know. Let’s go to Dallas Warriors, where the sense is that Luka is great. He’s shown why he is an MVP candidate every year and certainly one of the most, if not the most exciting under 25 player in the NBA. But they just don’t have enough. The Mavs simply don’t have enough. Maxi Kleber is terrified. Reggie Bullock picked the wrong game to not hit a single shot and they just don’t have enough.


Zach Harper: Yeah, I felt bad for Reggie because he had a couple, I want to say like three or four shots and maybe the first quarter, definitely the first half that just went in and out. Right? Like rattled and rattled out. And and so it looked like he was going to have a great game early because he was he was pretty on point, like he was getting good shots. And then as it went to like over seven, over eight, over nine over ten, you just kind of felt really bad for him and his legs kind of left him with Maxi Kleber, like he’s another guy that they need to knock down shots. He got afraid to shoot. He was afraid to shoot.


Jason Concepcion: Notably. Yeah. I mean, he would he would kind of like pump fake on a wide open shot with no one running to him and then no one hoping that someone would run to him so that he could give it up. And then no one would run to him and be like, fuck, well I’m giving it up anyway.


Zach Harper: Yeah, I blew. I think I’ve got this opportunity. I don’t have this really. Yeah, it’s so it’s funny because like I’ve seen a lot of criticism online of like before, you know, before the series started, the warriors are going to beat them and everyone’s going to complain that Luka doesn’t have any help. Right. And now we have to do referendums on every quarter lost and half lost and game lost. It’s like, all right, should we talk about Luka is about to get swept in the conference finals and it’s like, well, they got to the conference finals and got through the one seed CBA. Yeah, it’s a great it’s a great step forward. But also I think in game three, like look, game two, they choked away to a team that’s just way more experience. Game three, they got a ton of good looks. They’re actually generating 28 wide open three pointers per game. Right.


Jason Concepcion: Their offense is working as designed.


Zach Harper: Yeah.


Jason Concepcion: Absolutely.


Zach Harper: And I don’t think you can expect their defense to be great in this matchup against Warriors because the Warriors are just the fucking good like they’re just really good in the in Dallas only has so many personnel like Jalen Brunson six one with short arms. He’s not going to be able to do anything defensively. Luka Doncic is Luka Doncic It’s like he’s not going to do anything defensively. So you’re asking 2 to 3 guys and only time to cover the entire Warriors team. It’s not going to work. So you do that by knocking down shots and they just haven’t knocked down open shots.


Jason Concepcion: I got to ask, as a Minnesota Timberwolves longtime fan, you are very versed in the world of Andrew Wiggins, who in his time with the Warriors has become an all star, certainly taking it, taking a leap in terms of being able to be an impact player at a high level, at a winning level. And then in the most recent game, we just watched him, you know, manifest at the next level to the point that he’s dunking over Luka Doncic, who made a valiant effort to flop away the poster. It almost worked.


Zach Harper: Was there so much force? Is there so much force in the contact because he hits them his off or hits Luca kind of in the arm and in the chest and my mouth. I no.


Jason Concepcion: Help. I’ve been decapitated.


Zach Harper: I’ve been struck in the jaw like it was. I I’ve watched the replay so many times because just what? What a blow. And every time it gets to the contact and his head stops back, I just start laughing uncontrollably. It’s so good.


Jason Concepcion: Well, that’s actually a different conversation. I want to ask you right after that. But like, what do you what do you make of this leap that Wiggins is taking? And what did the Warriors do right? What did Wiggins do right in this stint?


Zach Harper: I mean, I think they held him accountable for the first time, right? Like it was like that wolves culture is just so bad. It’s it’s been so. But he had some due to tragedy. Some due to just yep. Due to just, you know, incompetence in the in the ownership. But like he had a he had a new coach almost every year of his of the first five years of his career. Right. And like I don’t think people always, always kind of link it back to like to Alex Smith quarterback Alex Smith like taken over Aaron Rodgers and I was like Oh what a mistake. And yeah, it was. He also had six offensive coordinators in his first six seasons. Right. Like, you just need continuity. You can’t have just new faces in all the time. It’s why the kings of the Kings, no offense. That’s why the Knicks or the Knicks like it’s just they have new people coming in to be authority figures all the time and there’s no accountability. And so with Wigg, like, it was just on the where he’s crazy talented, like Jimmy Butler in his brief time there was like Andrew Wiggins most how to do on this team like he’s just he is it’s just he doesn’t harness it and so the warrior I mean if you remember Glen Taylor for him a max extension was like, I need you to promise to try.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, I know. That was one of the most notable things that has happened in recent NBA history.


Zach Harper: Also how do you let that leak out? That that was a conversation you had with a guy you give it $150 million to.


Jason Concepcion: That was devastating that they.


Zach Harper: IIts just incompetent. So incompetent. So but but yeah, like I think once he got to the Warriors you saw last year like Wiggins looked terrible last year. He was so lost throughout most of that season because the Warriors are hard to play for in that everything’s live, everything. There is no wasted emotion there.


Jason Concepcion: Read react cut. Yup. You gotta be quick.


Zach Harper: Live cut hands ready get ready to spring right and and Wiggins had to learn how to do all that stuff. He’s had the defensive stuff in him for a while like I know he’s been a a joke defensively on on NBA Twitter and rightfully so like falls asleep off the ball all the time. But I don’t know if people remember when he was a rookie, there were games he guarded Jimmy Butler, there were games he guarded Chris Paul, other games he guarded James Harden. And he did a good job for a rookie. Like he did a good job like he has that in him. It’s just you need Draymond getting him motivated. You need Andre Iguodala coaching up on the sideline, you need Steph Curry making him a threat at all times. And so I think it just they finally got the wolves out of him.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah. Let’s talk about that flop. It did almost work. I think that flopping and officiating in general has been, as always, a big topic. But it really feels like with the review process and the flopping, we’ve got a review process that is solving for the problem we don’t have, which is everything else but flopping. I think part of the issue is that we also have some really, really high level slappers left in the playoffs. What, if anything, can be done about simulation, about some of these at times really like frustrating plays that some some very, very talented actors in the NBA execute.


Zach Harper: Yeah I wish there was like a system where like you could fine players for flopping. I wish like, they could come up with something where there’s like a warning the first time and then maybe like a 5k, 10k, 50k, you know, just an escalating scale.


Jason Concepcion: That’s a really great idea. They should do that.


Zach Harper: The just don’t have the technology for it. You know, it’s just they don’t know how to do that. So unfortunately, they don’t they don’t hurt any of the pocketbooks like that’s that’s what it is. Right. Also, Mark Davis, fuck you. I am so like.


Jason Concepcion: I listen.


Zach Harper: Look, I try to be as understanding. I hate when fans blame the refs. I do it like there are so many bad decisions your team made on the way to a loss they like. I just hate blaming the officials. But Mark Davis waited two and a half to 3 seconds after Wiggins landed to call that foul. And I don’t know why John Hall had a joke that he just wanted to go watch it on the monitor. No, you ruined that moment. You tried to fuck it up. He did, everybody. And it’s just like he got to get rid of the bad officials like you. I mean, you’ve talked about Scott Foster a lot, right? Like you talked about Scott Foster a lot.


Jason Concepcion: Its hard not to talk about him, yeah.


Zach Harper: Yeah, like it’s like it’s Scott Foster. It’s Kane Fitzgerald, it’s Tony Brothers. It’s Mark Davis. It’s James Williams. I shouldn’t know these names.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah.


Zach Harper: Like, I just shouldn’t. And it what bothers me is everyone looks back and they’re like, Joey Crawford was terrible. Joey Crawford was fucking great. Joey Crawford was an amazing ref that help people accountable. Sure. He had the weird thing with Tim Duncan. It’s bad. That’s one thing. That’s one thing.


Jason Concepcion: It’s one thing. Yeah, it’s one thing. Yeah. I don’t know what we can do. It would be great to bring back that that focus on on simulation and the fine structure. I’m of the opinion that if you review a play and then realize that the other player flopped as in that that Lucca dunk, that you give them some new kind of technical that doesn’t eliminate them from the game or something. Like if they already have one, you give them the simulation technical. They don’t get they don’t get ejected. But I don’t know.


Zach Harper: What if we had a flagrant zero?


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, like something like that. Like. Yeah, that’s a great that’s a great way to do it. Like, yeah. And you and you add them up and then something happens when you get to six or five or something like that, but you don’t get ejected in the moment. Right. But they’re just it just feels like if you look at that play again and oh, that that was a flop. And that was the reason I called it an offensive foul, then it should flip on that player. There should be something that holds that player again.


Zach Harper: Yeah. Also like on reviews, if we’re going to do it and if they’re going to take 3 minutes each time, like if you see something, say something, right. The whole like airport model, like you see like actually that was a foul on Bam Adebayo like we got to call that a reverse this whole thing, it shouldn’t just be on what’s reviewable or what’s challenged, but like, what did you see on the play? If you see someone off in the distance, punch somebody. All right. Well, that’s the yeah. The call of the play or whatever. And so, yeah, like, I, I hate reviews. Like, let’s either do them properly or let’s just not do them at all.


Jason Concepcion: Finally, what do you think these series what your your predictions on how we’re going to watch this play out? Obviously at 3-0, we’ve never seen anybody in the NBA come back from that.


Zach Harper: Yeah.


Jason Concepcion: Your thoughts.


Zach Harper: As someone who tried to be quirky, picked Mavs in six, I don’t feel great about the prediction. Everyone on every one of The Athletic NBA Show podcast was like, Oh yeah, warriors in this Warriors in this. I was like, well, we can’t all be the Warriors, so, all right, I’ll pick Mavs in six and then thought, and then once it was two, I was like, Well, this doesn’t feel great, but maybe it’ll be like the Phoenix series. And then I watch Reggie Bullock like go 0 for 10 and thought okay, well, this was just stupid. No, I think the Warriors, I mean, at best the Warriors win in five, right? Like maybe Dallas gets a game, but even then I mean, Luka had 40 last game, and it didn’t matter. So I don’t know. I don’t think there’s any hope for that. I still feel pretty good. I think about about the heat. Like I think the heat, um, I think game five will determine it for them. I don’t think they can come back down from three to even if they, even if they tied the series in Boston. If you flip those games, I think going back to Miami for a game seven, I just think this Boston team is very resilient. But I’ll stick. I had heat in six. I’ll stick with Heat six. I feel pretty good about it.


Jason Concepcion: And then finally as as the co-host of Cinephobe, as a movie expert, as a person who just received an eight and a half minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival. Congratulations on that, by the way. It was amazing.


Zach Harper: Thank you. Thank you.


Jason Concepcion: Give us a give us a movie review. Tell us what you’ve seen lately that has really struck you.


Zach Harper: Okay well, I saw The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.


Jason Concepcion: I knew, of course. Of course you have.


Zach Harper: Five times in the theater. I saw it twice in. The first day I saw it, I saw it twice. I went in the morning. I went at night, and it was look, man, I. I’ve never loved a movie more. I’m not saying it’s the best movie I’ve ever seen. It’s not. But I loved it so much I couldn’t stop going back to it. I was addicted to it. I am addicted to it. I keep checking Apple TV for when it’s going to be available for purchase, like for preorder. Like, I love this movie so much. I genuinely love and appreciate Nicolas Cage. I think he’s an unbelievable actor. Even in the bad movies, there are just moments where like, he just brings it and the quote unquote like fictionalized Nick with a k cage that is in this movie, it’s still so very much him. It’s not cartoonish. Like there’s a lot of cartoonish things going around around him and and it’s just like it’s such a beautiful ode to like a truly great actor that got into some financial problems and has had to do some weird shit because of it. But Pedro Pascal is phenomenal in an every supporting character is great. What’s and who plays his cousin Paco? Leon is like unbelievable in that movie, as you know, one of the bad guys, it’s just I genuinely like I know people think of Nicolas Cage as a joke and sure, in many ways he is like, Go see that movie. It’s so fucking good. It’s so well done. It’s so like self-aware throughout the whole process and it’s just fun. Like, it was just a fun movie to go to.


Jason Concepcion: He is Zach Harper, NBA writer for The Athletic , host of Cinephobe, Count the Dings, and the Sirius XM’s NBA Radio. Zach, thank you so much.


Zach Harper: Thank you.


Jason Concepcion: [AD].


Jason Concepcion: And now to help me unpack the PGA Championship and golf, a sport that I do not follow, is the number one golf expert on the planet, my mom.


Jason’s Mom: I’m here with my mom. Justin Thomas just won the 2020 PGA Championship after a playoff with Will Zalatoris. Mom, what is your reaction to JT’s win?


Jason’s Grandma: Ahhhh! It’s just I miss my grandson next to me who’s screaming at the same time I do. As a boy he would say “The ball went into the hole grandma!” I’m happy because he’s you know, he was close.


Jason’s Mom: Yeah.


Jason’s Grandma: And he worked really hard. And I’m so happy he did it. You know what I mean? Hey, listen, he has a such a good caddy in his bag. I was just like here, you know, in Hawaii? I know exactly what happened with good bones. Okay. And Phil? Well, according to that writer and Alan should not close the book on Phil. Yeah, and I felt that. Oh, yes, absolutely. Fired Dale because they all thrown open air bags on a ballot. Wow. And this is because Phil is a gambling addict. You allege what? I say also that for the past years, they lost 40 million. Oh, my God. Yes. And he he actually sold his great 2009 thing, you know. Yes. And they said he’s barely making it. He was on the red. Well, so can JT. So girls must love this. And then JT, of course, has a relationship with Tiger. Tiger Woods with you? I think. I think I saw the tiger just like waiting for JT in the clubhouse or something when, like. So that must make you feel that. Of course. He loved Tiger. Yes, exactly. You know what I mean? And, you know, he’s always very fearful that Tiger invited all these. Great. Well, that’s why I had faith based practice for the pastor, you know, and very few people he invited to play with him on the screen. And so I told them, you know, for their good friends, I think like friends, you know, like I was saying, he’s a brother. I never had a wow. So that they’re very close, you know what I mean? And and and Charlie in coach. Bye bye bye. Just in bad. Oh, wow. Yeah. Tight you know you know, I. How did you feel watching Tiger make the cut and then Tiger having to drop out? What are your thoughts? Like what? You know, I mean, every time I see him walking, working, it’s so painful. But, you know, this is what he was. I can’t ask Dr. F or am I going to work hard forever? I’m sorry. I, I if I’m gonna work anyway. Or I might as well say. And he said he has the blessing of your whole family. Yeah. So I mean all the way. He said he’s not only going to be selected by a man, so the only way he can win, though selected, is to look at them. Yeah, right. Yeah. So that’s what he’s doing. But I heard today I was following them and you know, they said the reason why they were talking so much or the reason of the change of the weather for some 8540 oh oh raining and cold and maybe have enough time for to to to decorate. It was a tough call for him to. Right. Very tough to walk on the floor and really. Yeah. Then last year they set off more and more steps to clear a longer mask, but it hit.


Jason’s Mom: One of my followers Chris wants to know is it too soon to ask if Will Zalatoris is going to be in the best to ever win it territory? He’s he’s always close but he chokes so much.


Jason’s Grandma: Who?


Jason’s Mom: Zalatoris.


Jason’s Grandma: Well, he’s young. I mean, I, you know, he’s not as experienced as Justin you know what I mean? So he’s younger he’ll be okay. I mean, look, I mean, Justin chocked a couple of times. Yeah. So, you know, it happens, you know, they they’re like, it’s not even if I already said to my nobody has my medical preparation like my hair, you know what I mean? Like the whole thing and. And that’s it. Yeah. You’re not very poorly name in the ball, you know what I mean. So that and then I like one day I was saying I approached by very soon the master and I asked him, How do you define this? He, he gave me a point. But then I look, as I suggested, out of necessity, one question I had to take the test and so like that. So he said select the people that he would give them advice on. Yeah. Well earlier in the tournament you well before it started, you texted me about that. He of course he had gone on like that for good. And now you hate it, Sergio. You’ve made it Sergio for a long time. Ever since that time. Did you hate him? Even before that? Especially when I was in Tiger one in Bethpage. Yeah. And they were playing and we were so mad. I was so mad with Tiger and I was so mad. Yes, I was so mad at me. That was that. But it’s it’s it’s that big fast. You know, they first they thought they canceled it for a while because it was raining. Right. And he’s blaming Tiger and he said, oh, it’s because it’s Tiger. You know what it is, you know, and I and I don’t like it. So, you know, I hate it when people do, you know, racist thing. And and he did that. I don’t want to, man. I don’t like that. You know what I mean? Because I know. Okay. And, you know, hey, you know, I came in here and somebody said that to me, so I know it’s not right. So I don’t like when people do that. So okay. So so that’s what they did. What? That’s why I’m laughing. He’s happy for Saudi. He destroyed the golf course when he was playing Muhammad 80 years ago. Know how they what is they going to do for him, what he does the same thing. Yeah, but it was a nice tournament for Bubba Watson. My feelings for Bubba. I like Bob a lot. Finding out how you feel about. About Bubba. Well, you know, he’s been waiting for a day for a long time. Hey. Hey. You know, he was not making the cut to make the cut so good for him. You know what I mean? Look at all those people by you and I means are Dustin. John Farley didn’t make the cut. Yeah, didn’t make the cut. Yeah, well, you know, I mean, number one guy didn’t make the cut. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Who are so non tiger? Who are your favorite golfers right now? Okay. I like a brook. Okay. Yeah, I. I really like Collin Morikawa. Yeah. Okay. Founder. Yeah. You know, I mean, I like Tiger, and, of course, I like Justin Thomas. Um, I. I like. Okay. Justin Johnson. But there is something going on with him. I think it’s about inculcate from my mom. I mean, because they’re doing well, there’s something going on. Oh, maybe because of the wedding or whatever it is, you know what I mean? You know?


Jason Concepcion: That’s it for us. Follow and subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. 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. Goodbye. Takeline is a Crooked Media production. The show is produced by Ryan Wallerson and Zuri Irvin. Our executive producers are myself at Sandy Girard. Engineering, Editing and Sound Design by the great Sarah Dubalaska and the folks at Chapter four. And our theme music is produced by Brian Vasquez. Mia Kelman is on the Zoom for vibes, and the vibes are fantastic all the time.