I’m going to an NBA game as media for the first time in over a year. Anyway, gimme your takes on the state of the world, food preferences, TV shows, whatever. Fire away.
I've only begun to catch up on the Ukraine-Russia situation.
This FT piece on Putin's inner circle is interesting in its own right, however the following excerpt really resonated -- I feel -- with the idea I was trying to get across in my comment on your WNBA piece:
>I once chatted ... with a senior former Soviet official who had kept in touch with his old friends in Putin’s elite. “You know,” he mused, “in Soviet days most of us were really quite happy with a dacha, a colour TV and access to special shops with some western goods, and holidays in Sochi. We were perfectly comfortable, and we only compared ourselves with the rest of the population, not with the western elites.
>“Now today, of course, the siloviki like their western luxuries, but I don’t know if all this colossal wealth is making them happier or if money itself is the most important thing for them. I think one reason they steal on such a scale is that they see themselves as representatives of the state and they feel that to be any poorer than a bunch of businessmen would be a humiliation, even a sort of insult to the state. It used to be that official rank gave you top status. Now you have to have huge amounts of money too. That is what the 1990s did to Russian society.”
Maybe I'm imagining things but what I refer to as the megalothymia of a number of athletes that snaps their purported moral compasses is a form this sort of comparison and self-aggrandization gone awry. Amplified by social media and comes with all the misery this ex-Soviet-official hints at.
Hi, first time/long time here (and new subscriber today!). Enjoyed your appearance on Bill Simmons podcast. As a big Warriors fan, we got KD and all, but generally I'm glad we aren't in this NBA free agent mercenary thing every summer to the extent that others (Houston, LA, etc) are. The influence of agents and then players (Harden) are already looking for the next thing--not good for team focus or team building.
Thank you for your work here. I just joined in the past number of days after listening to you interviewed on Simmons POD and Cowherd's POD. I legit am totally geeking out on your site, reading articles, and making google-docs so I can capture all the hyperlinks and read all your references later. I also just ordered your Warriors book. It was on my amazon Wishlist for some time, but i didn't realize people compare that book to Halberstam's immortal "BOTG".
If you have or can create a section on this site, for movie recommendations/book recommendations whatever, I'd love to check it out (maybe I'm missing it now) But, just know I so appreciate the authenticity of your work, and the thorough research you do :-)
The NBA should offer a tv viewing option without announcers. The audio would just be court side mics picking up the bounce of the ball, roar of crowd, and maybe some player and coach chatter.
Many years ago this happened during a bulls game I was watching when the announcer microphones stopped working for a quarter or two. It was really enjoyable.
Kim Kardashian actually does work hard and has a point. There are plenty of children of universally rich and famous people who fail at doing what she's done.
This corporate show of force against Russian aggression compared to how they (especially the NBA/Nike) handled Chinese moves in Hong Kong and Uighurs is…interesting. Is it merely a cold-blooded calculation of China is simply worth that much more in revenue vis a vis Russia, or is it a more layered question?
Flagrant fouls are my favourite part of Basketball. Recently, Youtube reels of airborne players getting clotheslined has become a mainstay on my feed. I know I'm a piece of shit for loving it, but when you grow up playing lacrosse and hockey, these little B-ball mishaps seem quaint.
NFL secret sauce is the frequency of the games being ideal amount and consistent. I can tell you more or less exact when every game will be played for all teams for the next couple years. It’s the key for watching games becoming habitual. Creating the ideal conditions for habits is a key element of customer retention. Also a reason why the substack app should help you with retention. Same principle why elections are won by turning out the base and not winning over “swing voters”. Retention > Acquisition
Hot take. Do some NBA analytics folk gaslight us on some of their own hot takes. I'm very much pro data, but it's only as useful as the quality of analysis applied to it.
Seems like there is a "follow the science" element to some analysis, which can always be justified retroactively.
Yesterday when news outlets started reporting what was "expected" to be in Biden's press conference minutes before it started, it obviously reminded me of the NBA coverage of draft picks/transactions leaking minutes/hours before the world would find out from the teams themselves and it made me wonder a few things:
1 - Why would anyone need to know what someone will PROBABLY say in a speech when they can wait a few minutes and find out EXACTLY what they'll say? Maybe stock market reasons?
2 - Has political coverage always been like this or did this become the norm around the same time or after sports coverage became this way?
3 - Are sports journalists doing their own little cosplay of political journalists when they want us to know vague details of an athlete's new contract just before the team will announce it themselves? (MAYBE in a much more niche sense there's a small gambling advantage if you're betting on futures?)
Politics is whom gets what, when. Bureaucratic oligarchy is the norm, no matter the god-terms employed to justify rule. Elites circulate and mostly despise one another. Nepotism, ethnocentric networking, and credentialism are primary ways to join the elite. Ignore platitudes and ideals. Focus on what people do, not what they say. Abstract theory is important because ideologues exist, but people make policy. The content of people always matters more, and always is there an identifiable “ruling” class. This class is distinct from the "ruled" class that lives with minimal concern for power. The ruling class seeks first to protect position and perquisites. It delivers popular policies as a tool to this end. Though rulers and elites love power, they hate accountability and often wish to be unidentifiable. People don't yearn for ideals. They yearn for safety, prosperity, a sense of belonging to a group, and a sense of victory over despised “others.” Rulers that deliver this command loyalty. Popular movements against rulers and elites are dissipated without support from current and aspiring elites. "The people" are not an independent political actor, but a tool wielded by one group of elites against another.
“Democracy” degenerates into oligarchy due to the logistical difficulties of operating democratic systems. Socio-political myths are foundations of all types of public systems, but especially of the god-terms "democracy" and "liberty.” Successful ruling classes work tirelessly to identify with myths. Loss of faith in myths signal a government can be overthrown. Relatively successful political systems feature a moderate degree of elite circulation, presenting talented newcomers a path upward and failed leaders a path downward. Attempts by rulers to reduce socio-political mobility are an indicator of decline. Insofar as the public ideals of "democracy" or "freedom" have content, aside from rhetorical tools, these public ideals are criticism of the ruling class and some separation of power across institutions. If the public ideals are viewed as essential to material prosperity, they will endure until the mass psychosis of spiritual crisis.
Not a take so much as a question (which you may not be willing to answer for obvi reasons lol): what’s the most incendiary rumor your heard while covering the NBA that you couldn’t publish bc it couldn’t be verified?
With the expansion of coaching basketball on a world wide level and the NBA seeming to having parity for its teams..can tbe nba take the step and create an European league of 8 teams as well as adding domestic. Perhaps having the mid season tournament being run in foreign countries adding to the allure.
New York City is so dumb that they're somehow going to turn Kyrie Irving into a hero
Not really a take, but the pandemic has ruined me as a parent and I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way. Maybe (probably) it's me making a sweeping excuse, but I'm a far worse parent than I was 2 years ago. I have zero patience. I think it's the lack of control that I feel on everything going on in the world leading me to take my frustrations out on them. It's terrible, but true for me right now at least.
I’ve enjoyed Raised By Wolves, but a show that does 8 episodes per season and only has a new season every 1 1/2 to 2 years probably can’t pull off being Lost. It looks like one or two significant answers will trickle out in the finale, and then the long wait. I hope I’m wrong.
nature's multipolar world is reasserting itself out of the ash heap of history. ethiopia and russia are two places to watch closely.
Schefter caught with his hand in the cookie jar yesterday. No doubt he’ll be the first with the Deshaun Watson trade.
The Batman was way too long. Not fun, not particularly exciting. Colin Farrell was cool but a bit wasted.
And the multiple endings sucked and weren’t exciting.
On the TV side of things
“And just like that” became the best hate watch of the year in a shocker, I never thought something could beat “the morning show” but I never could’ve anticipated the power of Che Diaz.
Hot Take: It's wasteful to kill animals and then only eat a few select cuts of their meat. Better to eat like the Scots, whose national dish Haggis is banned in the United States because it contains sheep's lungs or the Chinese, who eat everything from chicken's feet to rabbit heads to goose intestines. I agree with British chef Fergus Henderson, nose to tail is the way to go.
Plus I have a question. What is the book you referenced on latest podcast about social media making everything about the present moment?