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It goes in a whole bunch of directions. This is a really good part. First project.
All right, so Elgin Baylor passed away this week, he's 86 years old, he's one of the 20 best NBA players of all time and he's more than that. I wrote a column about him after he got bounced from the Clippers in 2008. And then I blew that column out for the piece about Elgin in my book. That is one of my favorite things that I've written because I thought he was the most underappreciated NBA superstar we've ever had. I still feel that way.
All these years later, I wanted to read that chapter that I wrote in my book, which I tweaked a tiny bit just because I pulled a couple of Elgin stories from different pieces of the book to throw them in here. But this is what I wrote about Elgin. This is from the 2010 paperback. And I thought he had a really special career and just wanted to. Tell you about. So here we go, Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Bill Russell, Jim Brown, Elgin Baylor, Oscar Robertson, Muhammad Ali.
Algae doesn't belong on the list. That's what you're thinking, not the guy who wear goofy sweaters to the latter every year, not the unofficial caretaker for the worst franchise in professional sports. You might accept them on the worst GM list or even the celebs who look most like Nipsey Russell was, but not the list above. Not with Jesse and Jackie and Russell and Brown and Oscar nominee. That's a stretch. That's what you're thinking. So come back with me to nineteen fifty eight.
The year 11 graduated from the University of Seattle and joined the Lakers. If you don't think the city is teeming with black people now, you should have seen Minneapolis in nineteen fifty eight. America hadn't started changing it. Blacks were referred to as negroes and coloureds, they drink from different water fountains, stood in their own lines for movies, were discriminated against and nearly every walk of life. When Elgin entered the NBA, the unwritten rule was that every team could only employ two black players and nobody really challenged it except for the Celtics Elgin Strohl in the league where nobody played above the rim except Russell.
Nobody dunked. Everyone played the same way. Rebound, run the floor, get a quick shot. That's a quantity over quality. That's what worked. Or so they thought. Because Elgin Baylor changed everything. He did things nobody had ever seen. He defied gravity, LG would drive from the left side, take off with the basketball, elevate, hang in the air, hang in the air, then release the ball after everyone else was already back in the ground.
You could call him the godfather of hangtime, you could call him the godfather of the wild play, you could point to his entrance into the league as the precise moment when basketball changed for the better. Along with Bill Russell turned a horizontal game into a vertical one. He averaged a twenty five and 15 and carried the Lakers to the NBA finals as a rookie. He scored seventy one points in New York in his second season, he averaged thirty four point eight points and nineteen point eight rebounds in his third season as a six foot five forward, no less, and topped himself following year by somehow averaging an incredible eight 19 with five assists on military leave.
Here's the story in that a United States Army reservist at the time, Elgan, worked in the state of Washington during the week, living in an army barracks and leaving only when they gave him a weekend pass. Even with that pass, he had to fly coach on flights with multiple connections to meet the Lakers wherever they're playing it, the throw out a uniform, a battle. The best NBA players in the league then make the same complicated trip back to Washington in time to be there.
Early Monday morning. That was his life for forty eight games over six months. I would argue that Elgin's thirty eight nineteen that season was more implausible than Wilt's fifty a game or Oscar's first triple double. The guy didn't practice, he was moonlighting as an NBA player at weekends. Wilt's fifty and twenty five makes sense considering the feeble competition and his gratuitous bogging Oscar's triple double, that made sense considering the style of play at the time. There are ton of shots.
Algis 38 19 made no sense. And when he carried the 62 Lakers to the cusp of a championship, he came within an errant Frank Selvi 10 footer of winning Game seven in Boston. It would have been his first title, would have been his only title. He never came closer to a ring. He wrecked his knee during the nineteen sixty four season was never the same, although he still made ten first time on base and played in seven finals during the first two weeks of nineteen seventy two season eligibility was holding back a potential champion and he retired after nine games.
What happened? The Lakers quickly rolled off a thirty three game streak, still record and they cruised to the title that season. Well, how many stars had the dignity to walk away when it's time. How many would have walked away from a guaranteed ring because it would have been a guaranteed ring that year? When does that ever happen? Well, alginate, there's some things that we like to forget happen now. Lord knows how many racial slurs bounced off and how many and bombs were lobbed from the stands, how much daily prejudice he endured as the league's signature black forward.
Russell, he battled everything up, he used it as fuel for the next game, he wouldn't suffer, but his opponents would suffer. Oscar morphed into the angriest dude in the league, a great player playing with an even greater chip on his shoulder. Well, just didn't have the same mean streak, he loved to joke with his teammates, he never stopped talking. He loved life. He loved playing basketball. He couldn't hide it. And so his body soaked up every ugly sight like a sponge.
Only a few of those stories live on, like the time Elton's teammate, Hot Rod Hundley, convinced the Lakers to play an exhibition game in West Virginia, where only he was from Elgin and two black teammates weren't allowed to check into their hotel or eat anywhere in town except for the Greyhound bus station that made you decide to skip the game. Hanley remembers Elian staying in the locker room and then telling them. What they did to you isn't right out.
And I understand that, but we're friends and this is my hometown. Play this one for me. And now John said, Rod, you're right. You are my friend Borat. I'm a human being, too. All I want to do is be treated like a human being and he wouldn't play. Here's how I remembered it. Years later, two years later, I was invited to an all star game there. He said, we stayed at the same hotel.
They refused a service. We were able to eat anywhere we wanted. They're beginning to integrate the schools. Some black leaders told me that they were able to use what happened to me and the other black players to bring pressure on the city to make changes. And that made me feel very good. But the indignity of a hotel clerk acting as if you weren't, there are people who won't sell you a sandwich because you're black. Those are the things you never forget, end quote, and if you read about black stars from the 50s and 60s, everything comes back to the same point.
The respect they earned from peers and fans was disproportionate to the way they are treated in their everyday lives. When Russell bought a house in a white Massachusetts suburb, his neighbors broken, trashed the house, defecated on his bed. When algebra's serving our country in nineteen sixty one and potentially sacrificing his livelihood, there were dozens of towns and cities across America who wouldn't serve a meal. Black stars felt like two people at once revered in one circle, discriminated against in the other, just because America changed over the last four decades doesn't mean those guys stop remembering the way it used to be.
Throw in today's nine figure contracts and the baby defying celebrities in today's basketball stars. And you could see why some of them might be bitter. Do modern players realize that someone like Elgin paved the way for their Achar garages with the boycott before the 1964 All-Star Game in Boston? How the mood in the locker room turned defiant only when Lakers owner Bob Shaw tried to order alginate teammate Jerry West around. Like to busboy's how that night basically created the players union.
The story never developed legs historically that we hear about Curt Flood and Marvin Miller all the time, and that just goes with the territory.
Without Jubilo, only diehard fans realize that by any calculation, Elgin was the third best forward ever. From a historical standpoint, it definitely hinders in that he never won a title or that there just isn't enough. I can't believe how good he was videotaping him. And I've seen some of the early tapes. I can't emphasize this strongly enough. Watching Elgin dismantle his peers is like watching the back to the Future scene when Marty McFly cranks his electric guitar solo as everyone else stares at him in disbelief.
Imagine a twenty nine player dunking routinely from the three point line that was Elgin Baylor in nineteen sixty one. But he lacked that signature thing to carry him through eternity, nothing with the legs of Oscar's triple double or Russel's 11 rings, you rarely hear Alja mention with the big boys anymore unless you're talking to an NBA fan over the age of 50. Then they defend alginate. They berate you for not realizing how unbelievably was. My theory, everything that happened after Elgin's playing career ended up obscuring the career itself, the Clippers hired Elgin to run them in nineteen eighty six and really has been something of a punch line ever since after purchasing Clippers tickets in 2004.
Here's what I wrote about him, quote, Blessed with a kind face and a happy smile, almost like the grandfather and a UPS sitcom. He's the Hall of Famer who sits with the other embarrassed GMs during the lottery every spring. I made many jokes about Elgin over the years. He's an easy target. This is a man once described by TNT as Reggie Theos as, quote, a veteran of the lottery process, unquote, and he meant it as a compliment.
I wrote after last June's draft, quote, Having Elgin run your team must be like getting in the car with my mom at night when she's careening off curbs and saying things like, I can't believe how bad my eyes of God and we shouldn't have ordered that bottle of wine, just constant fear and quote, Well, Elgin wasn't too happy about that one. Much to my surprise. He reads more Clippers related articles and comes than one would think. And when he found out I was coming for lunch that summer with some Clippers employees, he wasn't pleased.
Coincidentally, he ended up in the Staples cafeteria at the same time as being one of my lunch partners at Selgin at the salad bar. If you wanted to join us, LGM glanced over at our table, noticed me sitting there and growled, That guy's a bleep on the he's the seven letter expletive, placing most of his emphasis on the first three letters. For instance, let's pretend the word was Bastable. LJM would have said it, that guy's a basketball where people love that story of everything I ever wrote for, he has been that it's easily one of the most popular anecdotes I ever passed on you basketball.
I heard that 10 times a year. Clippers games, it took me two years to win Elgin over, but by his final season, we actually get along pretty well. By the time I filmed an ESPN piece about shooting a half court shot at a Clippers game in 2008, the organization had been splintered into various camps. I knew there is a festering power struggle and coach Mike Donlevy and I had a good natured shooting contest for one hundred dollars and I ended up winning it.
We're on camera and I forgot to collect. Donlevy disappeared. LG quickly limped over looking like he'd just seen an old lady get mugged. He never paid. You did, Elgin whispered. I shook my head and LG made a face. That's typical, he hissed. When LG gets mad, he stammers a little. So the next few words came out like this.
And you know what else? He went first. But after you made your shot, he made it seem like he had that last shot. Did he catch that? I caught it, I said I thought it was funny that he cheated, LG made another face. I'm glad you caught that, he said. I didn't think he caught it. We ended up wrapping for the next twenty five minutes while the camera guys picked up their stuff. And every time I ever questioned my choice in life for a profession, I always come back to moments like this, talking hoops with someone like Elche, someone who will live on long after we're both gone.
The Dunlea everything just killed them. You could see it even though LGM was the most beloved figure in the Clippers office. And that's an understatement, Dunlea. If he knew how to play the political game Algún was too freaking out about. Times are changing with the Clippers. I could see the writing on the wall and I could see it in his face that they could see for the rest of the season. Worried that the 2009 campaign would be his last, I caught a mutual friend to schedule lunch with Algún in August.
Selfishly, I want to write a column about him. At 74 years old, he was the oldest high ranking MBA employee, by far the last link to the days of wrestling cuzzi when black players ate at a Greyhound bus station because nobody else would serve them. When you wrecked your knee and you're never the same when you played twenty seven exhibition games in twenty days because your owner made you. One time I asked Selgin how he felt about charter planes that he flew off the handle, she said.
He said, When I put we flew coach and carried our bags, we landed two, three, four times. You ever hear about the time we crashed in the cornfield? Oh, I heard it's the closest an American professional sports team ever came to perishing in a plane crash. And for Elgin Baylor was just another thing that happened to them. That's why I thought it would make for a great column, just lunch with Elgin, him ranting, raving about stuff like that, and to make sure Elgin would show up.
I mentioned to our mutual friend, quote, Make sure you tell him that he should have tipped in the Selvi shot. I saw the tape. By the way, you could on the tape, it kind of does seem like it tipped at him, but he got shoved in the back. A few hours later, my phone rang. LG is going nuts, our friend said. He says you don't know what you're talking about. He said Sam Jones pushed him.
That's why he didn't tip it in. He said Sam even admitted to him afterwards. I don't know. I said, laughing. That's not what the tape shows. Well, my friend said you picked the right buttons to push. He'll be there for lunch. Just be ready to hear about this for an hour. We schedule a date and planned to see each other. Then a week later, they postponed. We planned on rescheduling and then fate intervened.
The power struggle escalated. Clipper's kept yanking Ulgen around. Finally, they candombe, they handed his GM responsibilities to Dunn, leaving the teams, employees were told that LGM resigned. Only the terse PR release that followed never mentioned anything about a resignation, nor Elgin's 50 year association with the NBA and all the hits he took along the way. We elected our first black president six weeks later, something that wouldn't have happened without the strength of people like Elgin Baylor once upon a time.
You're probably younger than 40, so when you think of them, you probably remember them wearing one of those Bill Cosby sweaters and wincing because the Clippers lottery number came too soon and that's the wrong memory. Think about him creating hangtime from scratch. Think of them putting up a 38 and 19 per game in his spare time. Think of them dropping seventy one on the Knicks. Think of his eyes narrowing as they passed along his owner's condescending message to him during that snowing that a Boston.
Think of him retiring with dignity because he didn't want to hang on for a ring. Think of him telling his teammate, Rod Hundley, that he couldn't play that exhibition game in West Virginia, not because he was trying to prove a point. But because it would have made him feel like less of a human being, LGM better let the Clippers. On the same day that Barack Obama took part in a second presidential debate, the two events were not related at all, or so it seemed.
On his final night in the NBA, his Clipper friends called and e-mailed to say goodbye. None of them heard back. Elgin Baylor was gone. He didn't want to be found 50 years gone in a flash for the most underappreciated superstar in NBA history. It couldn't have ended any other way. Rest in peace, Elgin Baylor. We're back after this. This episode is brought to you by Captain Morgan. It doesn't matter which sport you're watching, it's always exciting to see a back up come off the bench and really light it up, a fun substitute that makes the same gamer team feel new.
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All right. Joining us now is the point guard on the Ringer's basketball team that hasn't practiced yet because nobody is allowed to be with anybody. Mary Fator, if we did have a team, I feel like what kind of offense would we run? What would we be doing? Spread it out like Jammer Grant. You just need to clear out shooters in the corners. What kind of offense do you want everybody clear out?
I'm going I so I hear we got some good shooters and we're going to we're going to play up tempo. When we launched the ringer they were trying to get me to play and I'm like, I'm done. I'm retired. I retired in 2014. I hung it up. I play in the backyard with my son and my daughter and that's it. You're writing a book about you're writing a book about Yoni's that you've pretty much completed. How many interviews you end up doing?
Two hundred twenty. Wow. At some point, re-election, I go four to 50, are there 30 people who have tangentially met him that I could just drag into this or to 20 is a good number?
I know I felt really competitive about it. I was like, can I hit three hundred? And then it was like, actually what? You can just find the Bucks person that's a fan and talk to them for two minutes. That doesn't count. So I kept it at 20.
So I want to talk about Yoni's in the context of. He should probably win the MVP again if he's on the pace he's on now and we're just looking at this without any sort of bias, any sort of what happened the last two years is the best two way player in the league. He's having ninety seven percent of the same offensive season he had the last two years. He's on a team that's a contender. Unlike everybody else, he hasn't been shelved by some major injury except for somebody like Yokich or Dame.
And yet nobody everybody's tired of us is we've now done the full arc of isn't this adorable little guy from Greece who we actually might be good Whoa Giannis is a star the freak. Oh he's an MVP candidate and now we're at the not the backlash stage but the. All right we get the whole Giannis thing stage. Do you think he feels this.
I mean I think that I've been seeing that so much right. Like everyone was like afraid to say out loud he might be better than last year or like he might be, but it's almost like why is this a bad thing to say. Like why can't we appreciate this? I think he personally does not care what people think. And I know it's become cliche these days. Right? Athletes say that all the time, like, oh, I don't care, I don't listen.
But genuinely, he does not read what people say or listen. So I don't think it matters to him. But I definitely I mean, it's incredible. And I think people are finally, like, kind of irritated about it.
Yeah, well, I think at some point the LeBron the LeBron media mafia obviously gets involved and they do the whole he's only one for MVP. So if it ever got to the precipice of Giannis being a three time in a row MVP which is like Larry Bird did that in the mid eighties, I think Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, one of those guys did it, but it's it's just about the rarest thing you could do as a, as a player and I think there would be a backlash to that.
More of the case of no, no, it can't be him. He's never made the finals and it'll turn into that whole thing. But it would obscure that he's I agree with you. I think he's especially in the last month, there's been an extra level to him, especially at the NBA games. There's a kind of competitive anger to him, maybe from the losing from the last couple of years. Right. Do you see that? Yeah, because that wasn't him.
He wasn't that, like, mob mentality, like, I'm going to kill you and destroy you. Like, he's very much like let the game come to you. You know, I'm going to obviously recognize that I am the first option, obviously. But there wasn't that like extra level of dominance that I'm seeing right now. I don't know. You just completely like, no, I can do this. This is my time. And I think that's just a different thing that we haven't seen before with him.
Yeah. The first month of the season, it almost seemed like he had stagnated where it was like. Right. Maybe this is just who he is. They're trying to turn him into a perimeter guy. He's never really developed the low post stuff and he's just never kind of figure out that blend to go up that extra level. But then I thought the Philly game was really interesting the other day especially. He kind of took over down the stretch. But then when he sat on the floor, there was a performance aspect to it that I kind of liked where there was a little edge to it, you know?
And I think sometimes that stuff comes it's almost has to come from paint where you need a couple tough losses. You need to get kicked in the crotch a couple of times and then something kind of hardens in you and then it starts coming out. And it does feel like it's a little reminiscent of LeBron and the twenty twelve, his second Heat season when he was just a punching bag for nine months. And then he came back with like a different level of something.
Not that Giannis has had that kind of shit LeBron went through there for a couple of years. But there's something right.
No it's true and it's, and it's also just because he is aware, like everybody in Milwaukee is aware, that the time is now like you don't want to squander this guy's prime, like they have to move. And there has been that pressure, I think, even before this time, but particularly right now, like, you don't want to squander this guy's best years and especially with concerns of injury and things like that. So I just think there is so much pain.
And there's also just it's like it's like always looking at the clock with Giannis and it's been like that his whole career. Right. Like you know he came when they almost didn't have a franchise. Right. And then he builds them up to be this contender. He saves the freaking franchise from leaving Milwaukee. But it's just not good enough anymore. It's not good enough just to be there. It's not good enough just a contender to get 60 with that.
I think he's playing with almost like that level of anger that it's like we literally have to move past these boundaries.
Yeah. Do you think? So you said earlier, like, he's just different, right, which I think we've all seen from the get go, and a lot of that has to do with background how you grew up. But I also like to compare and contrast to, like every experience that he had that formed him versus how the typical American basketball superstars formed right where they become famous 10, 11, 12. And like these little elite circles, they get to know each other.
They have people coming at them, you know, by age 15, 16, they're on social media and they're becoming a thing by the time they're a sophomore in high school. I mean, there's IMDB. TV is running this documentary about LeBron Sun's high school team, Sierra Canyon, that's out here where we live. And it's just like it's the complete opposite of whatever experience, John said, trying to grow up. So I do feel like to me, it's almost like there's the American superstar.
And then there's the overseas guy, the Yokich, Luka, Yoni's, people like that, that they just seem to think differently. But yet when we look at their motives, we always assume they have the motives of the American player. It's like always going to want to leave. It's going to want to win a title. It's time for him to go in. Do you think he's just wired differently that he's never going to want to leave? What do you think?
Yeah, I do think he is wired differently because of his upbringing. I do think that leaving was just it just wouldn't make sense. And that's not how he thinks. That's not how he grew up. What I find interesting is the masculine culture that a lot of these kids, these cricketing kids grow up with. They're used to being very showy. They put their highlights on their Twitter, their Instagram, Yoni's literally. And one of the most interesting parts of reporting the book is he used to be so emotional because in Greece, like boys weren't socialized the way they are in America.
So he would cry after the game, like if he felt like he wasn't performing up to standard, like it's so wounded him that he was not playing amazing every time or he was too rebound shy that he would visibly cry and his teammates acted like, you know, it's not a big deal. His coaches I get this as young as he cries and he comes to America and his strength coach at the box, his rookie year is like, you can't do that.
We don't do that in the NBA. We don't cry. And so I just think, like, even something like that just shows you like they approach things differently internationally. You know, they're not they're not supposed to think that they're the best. They're supposed to think I have to work my hardest just to get a tiny, tiny slice of the pie or a fraction of a chance. And if I somehow don't measure up, it's my fault that's completely different.
Well, and then the other piece that he has that's so great and it's a little different than Embiid you know Embiid is I think even though he's international he's he seems like an American player like the even from the moment he came in the league, he's a little, little more showy. He embraces it, he loves it. But he's also somebody that from the moment he started playing basketball he's one of the favorites. Right. He's the tall guy. He's the overpowering dude.
I think what's so interesting about Giannis is the late bloomer piece with you know and then Luca who's at this league when he's 18, he's another one who has to like you know he has to prove he can belong. He's being thrown into the fire in a crazy way and he actually like was able to turn around Giannis like and we talked about it because you interviewed me for your book. I made you interview me. Now you asked me. I don't know how we arrived at it, but when I did that draft that year and he was the sixth time kid and nobody had any idea.
Yeah he went like what. Fifteen. Sixteen. We had no idea if it was a good pick. It seemed like decent value. But you also could have told me he was going to in the league in two years. I would have believed it.
But that's why I also think, like, how miraculous is this extensive network of scouting? Like they didn't these all these people flew to Athens to see him, not to discover something. He was identified as Tallaght. The question was, how good is he? Right. Like you look at his film, it was super grainy. It was awful. It looked like some JV game with people with stubble and Potbelly's. And you had no idea. Right.
You don't even know how tall his teammates were in relation. But that just goes to show you, like these scouts, like they do their homework and they know people have intangible things. And so even though the top two powerhouse teams in Greece, Panathinaikos and Olympiakos, they're these storied Euro league powerhouses, they didn't want him. But, you know, NBA scouts weren't coming to Athens to go visit those players. They were coming to visit Giannis because his game fit in America, because he had the athleticism, the length, all those things.
And like one of the things I enjoyed talking with you about my book is The Revisionist History. And sure, if we knew he would sprout two more inches he would not have fallen to 15. But yeah, it just goes to show you it's like these people do their homework and they know.
Right in the draft, he was six nine. He was super athletic and he was fluid. And that was the one thing you could see from the clips, even though you couldn't tell from the guys he was going against. But there's a fluidity to him that definitely felt NBA ish, you know, but if you told me he's going to if you told me he's going to become seven feet tall, we're doing that draft completely differently because now it's like, all right.
His Kompas and Paul George, it's some human being that doesn't currently exist in the league. And he's probably a top three pick. I mean, doesn't it show you, though, that there's so many factors, it's it's not just the height, though, it's the work ethic like Yoni's state in this league, because he works extremely hard. And I think work ethic just gets thrown around these days. But genuinely, like he built his body into something and he had this natural God given height and athleticism.
But, you know, it's funny to watch those early tapes because, like you said, he didn't look awkward. He just didn't have the body to do what his mind told him to do. Right. Like he was not banging down there. Like, I saw a clip from the game the other day and he just spins and he wraps around. He's just dunking. And I'm like, oh, my God. Like, why would anyone try to defend him when he gets that deep in the paint?
But if you look at twenty twelve yards, it's like he was almost afraid of contact. He would dip his shoulder and shy away.
Right. That's you see that sometimes I'm a guy I really like in college right now who's not not a crazy opinion ever. Mobley at USC, who's going to be the number two pick. And I think he should be being considered for the number one pick. When you talk about the not quite knowing what your body is yet, you kind of shy away a little bit. There's times, especially with those tall, lanky, 18, 19 year olds, when they're around the rim, they kind of bring their body down or, you know, they'll crouch a little bit and then pop back up.
And then eventually they learn not to do that. And all of a sudden they're seven feet all the time. That was the thing with Giannis I remember, I don't remember what the first year. I think it was until a second year when I saw him in person. But he just jumped off the floor, like in person, you're like, oh, my God, wow, this is somebody who will never get hurt unless it's a freak injury.
He just belongs out there and he just moves differently than everyone else in the fort, like you could see it. I don't know if Mobley's like that. I'm excited to see him in person. But there was something shifted between that first and second year, the bucks, because I remember at Grantland, we were kind of enamored with him. But then his second year, we kind of adopted him as like, oh, this is a thing that's happening.
He had a nickname all the sudden and it was just kind of seemed like, all right, this is the guy Milwaukie had been begging for for 40 years. When do you think the more hockey fans realized it? I think it was that series. It might have been that second year when they played the Bulls and maybe had the the cheap shot on MTW and Yoni's, like, beelined for him. And it was such a moment. It was like, OK, like Yonnet.
Yeah, I remember that, you know, and it was like obviously he had learned how to control. But, you know, the people I talked to so many people that went to that game, even though they lost by like 60 points in that elimination game, at the end, the fans stayed for like ten minutes after. And you just heard this cheer, Milwaukee. And so even though, like, Giannis was still kind of a curiosity, right.
No, Jabari Parker was supposed to be the guy and Giannis was supposed to be the sidekick you know at the time. It's like that moment though. I think Crystalise like Giannis is about it. He cares for us. He's going to defend his teammates. He's going to, he's going to do whatever it takes. And I think that was like a very special prideful moment that a lot of Milwaukeeans cherish.
Yeah, there was a hiccup like, like a whisper of a moment where it was like well Jabbar will be the Jordan and Giannis to be the Pépin. Like Jabari was really highly regarded it just to you about this you know. But there's also an unbelievable what if from that draft where. They could have just taken a bid, too. I think they wanted Jabbar because he was a Midwestern kid and was going to be the rare kid who might want to actually stay in Milwaukee after his first contract and stuff like that.
But Embiid was going to be the number one pick got hurt. He fell a three and was afraid to take them but we really almost did have them beaten on the same team like that was the thing that easily could have happened.
Like can you imagine although this reminded me of something we were just talking about the anger that Giannis seems to be playing with nowadays and this like very different tone we're seeing and taking over I think around this time period that we're talking about that twenty 14 to 15 to 16 stretch. That's when the anger started because Giannis thought he was going to be the player And then Jabari comes in and suddenly Giannis is just like the Robin and he has to prove that he's the Alpha and it was they went at each other in practice like they learned to be friends.
They liked each other eventually but at first you is like oh no, this is my team. Like I worked for this and so I think and he is one of my favorite anecdotes in the book is Giannis practicing his angry face his scowl like in the mirror.
He was just like How do I mean.
Because you know that he just wasn't that guy. He was a nice guy. He was the guy that mopped up the floor and cipolla and he called his teammates by like if one guy was named Christo's he would say Mr. Cristoff. So all of a sudden Giannis has to learn how to get mean. And I think what you're seeing now is like seven years of becoming mean.
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Yeah, I mean, everyone everyone knows what it is when it comes to honest. Like there's no doubt anymore that he is that type of game changing elite player. But Yoni's prefers to not work out with these people because in his eyes, it's like, why would I give you my secret sauce? Like, why would I do that? You know, like I think in our era, modern NBA especially, there's been a tendency to be like financeable.
And Giannis is like never going to be on the banana boat ever like unless it's his brothers on the boat with him. He's just not that guy and like he literally does not care about fashion and going out in the tunnel. So these other superstars, it's just a different approach. It's almost old school in a way like yeah I'm not going to, we're going to, I'm not going to make jokes with you. I'm here to like bust your ass.
Like, that is just a different thing that we haven't seen in a while. I love it, I really think. I think he's so unique, I think most people would have played this season out and probably ended up in Dallas with Luca because that was the smart move, right? It's like, all right. I mean, look at team up together and titles. I will get a claim. I'll be in the finals every year and that's how it'll work out.
And he didn't even consider it. Were you surprised that he signed the extension when he did? What was your I mean, I know the answer because you and I were talking about it for the audience. What was what was your instinct in those two weeks leading up to that?
I don't like when sportswriters pretend that they knew what was going to happen when they did that. So truthfully, I thought it could go either way, like I really could see them staying because, of course, that goes along with everything we know about him as far as like loyalty and all of those things and hearing that his mom wanted to stay. So, you know, any emotional connection that he had to that city. Right. They took a chance on him.
He's like we said, he's not one of those prospects. That's like, oh, that team's lucky to have me. They took a chance on him and he'll never forget that. On the other hand, like when people when people say they want to win, I think it's just overused. A lot of guys say that they don't really want to win and do whatever it takes to win. But I really believe that Yoni's wants to win so badly.
And I thought the is gaffes leading up to his decision really just was such a bad look. It was almost embarrassing. And so I thought, like, maybe he's done maybe he's like, you know what I gave it? I gave it my shot. And Sussan Ley, everyone's talking about that. So I thought, OK, like, it could go either way. But then when he stayed, I was like, of course. Right. We all had that reaction.
Like, but it's really it's something that I don't think we'll be able to appreciate for a couple of years how rare this is. And I don't think also that this is now going to lead to other people wanting to go to small markets either. I think this is just Giannis is unique and I don't think we will see other people doing this as well.
Yeah. And we have you know like Reggie Miller is a good example of the old school because he has, I think it was like ninety two, maybe ninety to ninety three. Somewhere in there he's going to be a free agent and Magic was lobbying to come to the Lakers and all that stuff and he played at UCLA and he end up staying in Indiana and he stayed there for 18 years. And I think, you know, we've talked about this a few times on the podcast about whether Curry was potentially going to be the last guy ever who's start middle finish one team.
But I think Giannis has a real chance now. I think this almost was the fork in the road moment. The team's good enough that they'll make the finals one of these years. I do think they shot themselves in the foot a little bit. The holiday trade saved a lot of it but. But yeah, the summer they had the summer fridge, the last summer was just flat out bad. The D.J. Augustine contract was abominable. They just I don't feel like they really got better.
Same thing when they gave the Bledsoe the extension and didn't keep Brogdon and things like that. And I think, you know, their owners and their front office are very sensitive to this stuff. They haven't really splurged on the luxury tax even now as we head toward the trade deadline. They're not over the part where it's like, all right, this could cost a lot of money. What is his relationship with the front office? And like, does he put pressure on them?
How does that all work?
I mean, I think, like, being vocal is something that has taken time for him to do. Right. Like Jason Kidd used to have to like force him to, like, open his mouth and say something. So when I hear now that in these sort of private conversations and we need this guy, we need that guy, he's more vocal, like he actually gives a list and is like, I want this guy. And it's it's not like I wouldn't I wouldn't describe it as like aggressive or anything like that.
But his voice is absolutely there because it's his team now and he's grown into, honestly, just a man. And he was a child when he gave into the league, really want a child, but, you know, a teenager, a baby faced kid. And now he's he's earned the right to speak up in these meetings. So I think he's been very vocal about it, very present, because, again, like I said, you don't want to squander this guy's you just never know.
And Milwaukee, it's like the wound and the fear of squandering somebody's prime is so real. And one of the things that I found most fascinating when I was thinking about will he stay or will he leave? Was the decades old one of Abdul Jabbar leaving? And it's like, finally the superstar stays. Finally, management is actually trying to win a championship. Right. There was decades under Senator Cole where it was like, we just we don't care.
We're not we're just going to do whatever we need to do. We're going to be competitive. We're going to make that a seed. So if you look at that mentality to now through PJ Tucker, it's it's just a totally different feel. And Janis's ever a part of that.
Well, the Jebba things especially tough because that really had nothing to do with the team being competitive. They made the seven finalists. I mean, they weren't exactly loaded, but the league was in a weird place. The ABA had all the young guys and stuff like that. He just didn't want to live in Milwaukee anymore, which is painful if you're from Milwaukee. Right. And you have this is like it's too small, get it in New York, L.A., LeBron at least massaged it a little bit where I feel like I need a New Jersey.
I need a new. But Cleveland was too small for him. And then eventually he flipped it and he came back. But I don't know. I think if you're from there, that Jabbar thing is like a pretty big scar. So the fact that has stayed, I think that can't be understated. That's a huge thing.
It can't be understated. It's a wound that is even for people that we're not Abdul Jabbar, his generation. It's something that's just handed down from your parents because it's not a it's not a city that doesn't love its team. It's always loved its team. Even when people doubted whether basketball could even work in Milwaukee. Right. Like the Atlanta Hawks, you know, originally being there and then leaving, it's always like the place where you start, but you never stay.
That's just it's embedded and it's always like hope. But don't get your hopes up. Don't be too hopeful because you're going to be disappointed. The star is going to leave that two thousand to one run with with George Carlin and big dog Sam Purcell and Ray Allen like that, like still trigger Milwaukeeans when they think about Ray Allen leaving. So Giannis staying or leaving had so much more emotions than whether this player likes Milwaukee or not. It had like decades old baggage and I know Giannis was aware of that.
His rookie year they won fifteen games like don't forget that that was a rough and that was the polar vortex here and it was cold and it was miserable and so yeah I think the Hysterias is a part of that.
I don't think you can talk about Giannis staying and what that means to the franchise moving forward without having that conversation about Abdul Jabbar in your research for the book.
Because one of the one of the kind of things with him was he was homeless in Greece. Like how much of that was true. How much was visit apocryphal. Was he actually homeless.
Like would you find out he wasn't homeless but they kept getting evicted often and so they would have to convince the landlords like, hey, we're going to get paid tomorrow, come back tomorrow, I promise we'll pay you. And, you know, oftentimes they would get told you have to leave, you have to get up, you have to go. And they would have to just be out in a matter of hours. It is very true that Yoni's just wasn't eating.
And I think lost in the narrative of he's so skinny. That rookie year was like, yeah, because he was malnourished like that, that that draft that you were part of, it was such an emphasis on like is such a great kid. Great story overcomes obstacles. But like, I don't think people truly knew how hard that was, how hard it is to compete when your first meal comes at eleven, how hard it is when you are essentially the alpha of your brothers at age 13.
And I. What's even more miraculous is that he didn't even really know much about the NBA at all, like he the players on the court would come up to him and say, you're like Dr. J. And then he would just be like, who is Dr. J.
And his brothers would go, like, scrounge around for a euro to go to the Internet cafe and Google Dr. J. So for him, it's like, OK, first priority is eating. Second priority is parents health and then getting money and then third selling and then fourth with basketball. So if you look at like him making it this far, it's miraculous because the kid had so many deeper worries.
Do you think that's why he grew? It sounds weird to even think that. But if he was malnourished and then for the first time he had like a normal schedule then thing because it's so rare, I can only remember it happening a few times. Rodman was another one where sometimes these people grow at age 19, age 20, and they'll grow an extra three inches. But this pretty is a pretty late stage for him to just add on two and a half inches or three inches, whatever it was.
You know, that's that's fascinating. And there could be something to that.
I talked with the former Bucks team chef and to do more interviews, you went to talk to seven nutrition experts. This guy, you know, like two twenty seven. Oh, my God.
I know. I know. But the former bug chef was really helpful as a part of this kind of dialogue because he was telling me, like obviously Giannis has never heard of like a tumor a shot. Right. But all of a sudden he's like getting all this like health and food and treatment that he's never had before. And it's like it made a tremendous difference. Right. Like everyone talks about like oh he just weight lifted like crazy. That's how he looks like a Greek God.
But they've actually worked so much on his nutrition, like the strength coach when he first got to Milwaukee, had to tell him, like it's OK to eat three meals a day, like it's OK because he just wasn't part of his upbringing, you know, and like, he would take stuff home and stuff it in boxes thinking like, well, I might not have food tomorrow, even though, of course, you're going to have food tomorrow, like the bucks will provide food tomorrow.
But how could you be sure, you know what I mean? So it's been a journey and like learning how to eat properly and like feeding yourself. And now, like, he has his whole routine down. My fav thing is he sends the Shefa egg emoji or the chef emoji when he wants an egg white omelet. So I love that detail.
Like casual like can you just see it right now? But yeah, like you would never have had him do that years ago.
Never. So if I was running Dallas. I would have signed both of his brothers to like four year deals and just go and just put the pressure on Yoni's. I still don't know why they didn't do that. I don't think it would have been that expensive. But you're almost paying like the Yoni's tax. And you basically he's so close to his brothers, you're basically leveraging that to try to for a competitive advantage. I wonder what would happen if they did that.
Does he still stay? Probably. But I do think it could have swung the seesaw a tiny bit. That would have been crazy.
I don't really understand it because Costas was on Dallas for a bit of time and Dallas is one of the major teams that are like we wanted dance. Like we talked about that revisionist history. Dallas has been the most vocal about like, yeah, we knew he was that good. So it definitely surprised me a little, too, I think. Yeah, I don't I don't believe anyone with that draft you and I talked about it when we did the interview for the book, I, I just think anyone's full of shit that can get that clear.
Anything. It was it was at the point of the draft and it was a crap shoot. And he was the number two international guy in the draft. Schreuder was the number one guy. And then Yoni's it was like he was going to go somewhere between 15 and 18, whatever it was. And that was where his value was. Nobody was taking him. Tenso wasn't happy.
Nobody. Nobody. Well, and this also reminds me why, like, sometimes we forget that, like, it's OK to have to draft somebody that takes time to develop. Right. Like, he he would not have developed if they were a winning team. He would not have he got thrown in there because they sucked like that and everyone got injured. It was like luck and time and circumstance and somebody making the most of their opportunity. But like nowadays, it's like if you're not ready to roll at like 18, they just look at you like something's wrong with you.
But like he is such an example of, like, patience and hard work and being in the right situation. It's like so many things have to go right to be in a space where a player can flourish.
Work ethic and the body he has was a good start.
There's something else. Yeah, those those are nice pieces. So when this book comes out, it feels like you have to run at least one high screen rhythm, lay some back up. I fight for a ring or video or something, you send me to Milwaukee. I would give anything to do that. OK, tell me what.
I'm just a couple of, like, high lives. So I thought that you probably didn't play with anybody like yachties in high school or college. I'm guessing you didn't have a seven foot labor lab screen off.
No. And our listeners need to know something very important. I'm five feet tall, so that's another thing. But we can make it work.
We can make it work for you five feet tall. But you were like the classic scrappy. Oh, yeah. Just perfect, perfect ballhandling, all that fundamentally sound and just ran the team. Like there's been models of you that have worked that are really high level in college, at least I know.
And part of me is always jealous when I see a five six girl in college, like killing it and being like damn former life. But that's why I appreciate somebody like Yoni's, because I was so small and I had to fight for things. And even though our stories were completely different, like, I love I love hustle guys. And I think like two twenty people that I talk to, not one person had something negative to say about him and to twenty people attested to the work ethic.
It almost became cliche like it would be like, dude, I know his work ethic. OK, what else now you know, because that's like the one thing everyone wants to talk about. But it's it's legit. It's true. Does that almost make you suspicious that you get to like one hundred and sixty people. You're like, all right, wait a second. Come on. A dick to a waiter once. Like can you give me. Yeah.
There's just what can happen.
I know I try to when when the last dance came out I tried to tease it out and say like, look, anyone at that level is going to be an asshole. Like you have to be an asshole at some point. And I would try to tease it out and be like, well, how does he talk to teammates? And then you would get these endearing anecdotes about him coming up to the 16th man and being like, what do you want to run into the 60 Minutes?
Like you're Yoni's like, we're going to run whatever the hell you want to run. So I think, like, what's different is he's not he's not Jordan Aspell. He's not Kobe asshole. He will get on his teammates if they need to get on it, like he has that sort of like alpha leader. You know, he's not going to let the team go out there and not have one hundred percent full effort every single time. But he doesn't lead in that way.
Like I said, opening his mouth and like talking is still relatively new, like Jason Kidd, mind game coach, point guard, professor, like putting everybody in the right place. He knew the value of speaking up and Giannis is not the person to speak up. And so it's been such a steady progress. But one of the things I really liked hearing from Sterling Brown when I interviewed him last year was like It's not just Giannis speaking up now it's Giannis listening.
So when Sterling has something to say had something to say or Khris Middleton has something to say like Giannis listens and I think part of being a great leader is also just knowing when to trust your teammates and listen to them and perhaps all the chemistry and the fun that they're having now and all the things that we're seeing is because he has really evolved as a leader. Well in the best case example of that is the bubble, right? Yeah. Once once he gets on board with the boycott, we're done.
It's you know, and I really loved how organic the whole thing was to you know, he just looked at it fundamentally like my teammates are bothered by this. Let's not play. And, you know, ultimately, he's the alpha dog on the team and he's going to be Connett. But then he wanted no credit at all after really receded in the background of that story. And it became about some other people more than him. But he was the reason other than George and Sterling Brown, he was the reason it went to the next level, I think.
Yeah, and he has learned, obviously, I should say, learned he has experienced so much himself as far as race and how you're treated in America versus how you're treated in Greece and his Greek identity, Nigerian identity and being proud of all of these parts of him. And I remember when he was a rookie, like he didn't know anything about Milwaukee. And Caron Butler had to explain to him, you can't wear a hoodie because, you know, black boys and black men are targeted by police and this could happen to you or you could get killed or this.
And Milwaukee is a segregated city. We all know that. And so, you know, he has honestly had such an education about race in America. And to see his recent comments about, like, my son's growing up here, like I you know, I don't want him to live in a place where he has to be afraid. And you just would not see him talking about race early on. You just he shied away from it, even though people back home in Greece said really racist things about him.
And so you're seeing a little bit more vocal these days.
What's his relationship with Greece now? Goes back in the summers.
He goes back all the time. Yeah, he he loves Greece. And I believe. Yeah, he took a son there for the first time. This I'm losing track of time in my pandemic brain. But he definitely was recently with his son. And it's a complicated thing. And I do hope people take that away from the book is that although they were like very kind people to him growing up and a lot of amazing white Greeks that supported him, there were also people that didn't that just saw him as a black undocumented person.
And it's been fascinating to learn how he is embraced there now because he's famous and he's honest. But there is still that ugly strain of racism that's still there, still murals of him being desecrated. So it's complicated. It's interesting. When's this book come out? August 10th, twenty twenty one. Can I am I allowed to say preorder it? Yeah, do whatever you want. Is it preferrable? Yeah, it's pretty horrible. What's the name of the book?
Yoni's The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP. There you go. All right, Mary, great to see you. Belated, belated welcome to be at the Ringer on this podcast. We talk privately, but it's great to have you aboard. And I look forward to reading all the stuff you're going to do and listening and all that stuff over the next couple of years.
I can't wait to play pickup with you and we're happen to be able to play in my backyard. That's it. Thanks for that.
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All right, we are taping this a few days before it's going to run. So if the world ends or anything crazy happens, I don't blame us. Alexis Ohanian is here. Ohanian Ohanian, I asked you before we went on. I've heard it pronounced so many different ways. You're one of those guys. It's like the I dated a girl whose name is Andre, and everyone caught her, Andrea. And it was Andrea. Andrea like, so how do you pronounce it?
Give it to me.
Well, OK. Oh, Ohanian is what I say. I feel like there's a there's a much more Armenian way of doing it, which is like an onion. But I just say, oh, hang on, Alexis Ohanian, the thing I care more about is being called Alexis, not Alex, because Alexis is not Alex. And I was named after that guy who's out of view. But that's Alexis Aguayo. Oh, my God. Yeah. I was a huge fan of his.
The prior Aguayo fight was unbelievable.
Oh, I that's defense is such a fun. I know. Yeah. My father was really in the fighting in the 70s and the 80s and our guy was his favorite and named me after him. And it's wild.
And you grow up real quick as a kid on the playground, as a boy on the playground and Alexis. And you really decide at an early age if you're going to go all in on it or you get people to call you. Alex and I went all in on it. And so I'm very married to that. I'm quite proud of it now. But it definitely taught me how to fight early because it was a little kid.
I like the the prior fight I have not talked myself into prior was definitely doing something illegal during the fight, like they're spiking his water and all that stuff. So I know. And it's it's like and it's a wild thing, man, you know, he obviously had had such a difficult life thereafter and some pretty shady circumstances around his death. And just, you know, I think I should ask my father again. I mean, he he felt like Alexis was such a gentleman and a heck of a fighter and carried multiple titles and multiple weights and but he was a gentleman.
And it was one of those things that was instilled in me like, OK, I guess that's the kind of guy I got to be. And then I had this moment to talk about things I never would have expected, where I was hanging out with Mike Tyson and I and I introduced myself and he's like, Oh, Alexis. And and he was like he named after Alexis. Well, and I was like, yes, I am, sir.
And he was like, well, let me tell you, you know, he was he was incredible fighter and and it was such a gentleman. And I'm just like, oh, look, I'm so happy. Like, this is this is what a moment. Mike Tyson. Oh, my God, my father. I can't wait to tell the story and see like a gentleman that he was such a gentleman.
Alexis used to just just beat the shit out of a guy, like, literally make the guy shit himself because he beat him so bad. And then afterwards, we like. You know what? I hope I really hope you get better. I really I hope you're OK. And we would give him a good handshake. And he said and I'm and I'm here and Mike and as my terrible Mike Tyson depression and I hope I don't get a phone call after this, but like it it was a moment that I'll never forget.
And you should've heard me recounting the story to my pops because, you know, you're the kid named Alexis. You're the boy named Alexis. In four years, you're growing up defending this name and telling the story and retelling the story. And then Mike freakin Tyson tells you what an amazing namesake this man was and just blew me away. So, yeah, as long as you call me Alexis, get some version of Bohannan. Right, we're cool.
Well, I remember when when he when he beat Boom Boom Mancini. Mm. And I remember really rooting for Mancini because he had his dad who was like physically failing in the in the crowd and and it just wasn't good enough. But then afterwards I felt worse about it that I think Mancini did, you know his arms around him, he's consoling them.
And it was yeah, it's a beautiful thing. And I'm it's those little moments. And I, I remember my dad had this collection of VHS tapes that he would sit me down and make me watch on the VCR of these Aguayo fights. And it's wild because that's how boxing was introduced to me as a kid at a time when I was born. Eighty three symbolic early nineties. You know, my dad's really leading in on boxing and we're at this point, we're solidly in NFL household.
Where are you grown up at this point? So we had left New York when I was about six.
So we moved to Howard County outside of Baltimore, Maryland. But it was after the Colts, before the Ravens. So it was a Washington football team household. And my dad, my dad had spent some time in College Park. And so he was he knew the area well and he was a DC sports fan and in particular the Skins for the team formerly known as the Skins. And you know what? What had. Drawn me to fighting in trying to, like, understand this, it was through his eyes because at the time, right in the early 90s, boxing had just changed so much as a sport.
And and the dynamic and the just everything about it was just so different. And and it's been tough, too, because, like, I know like I'll still catch up with my dad about and he still tries to follow. He's definitely not a UFC guy. He has not made that transition. He still just wishes boxing were like it was in the glory days. And he tells me about he tells me about the Ali fight, Ali fight he got to go to when he was a little kid with his dad.
And he tells me about these moments and memories that he had. And it's it's interesting. I sometimes I do wonder where the future of some of these sports do end up heading, because like at the time, no one would have expected boxing to sort of be where it is today because it was such a big part cultural event, such a big deal. Now it's like, oh, hey, you know, your YouTube, or you can get to make some good money having a fight with someone.
And no disrespect, but it's just very different. And and sometimes I wonder even to now it's like the NFL, you know, growing up, that was a Sunday religion for us. And and I just can't help but wonder if in 30 years, 40 years, I have a very different relationship and people have a very different relationship, even with a powerhouse like the NFL, just because enough people are like, well, we've moved on to something else, who knows?
But it just if anything, it taught me not to take anything for granted because I, I, I know the role that boxing had in his life and his childhood, and you just could never expect it to go away. And it's a shadow of its former self. Yeah. You know, nothing is nothing is for certain these things. It's the ebb and flow like like business cycles, like everything else.
It's funny because in one sense it's still successful. Right. The pay per view is doing well. They're selling the right stuff like that. But yeah, just think about it. When when Hagger died, that was when you really eat, you know, that was like one of the biggest. Ten and a half minutes of my life is such an important fight, and then it was so far exceeding the expectations with anyone, that is still the best fight I've ever seen.
Just in general, having that division with Hagler and Hearns and Duran and Leonard, and it just was really meaningful. And any time there's a big fight, everything stopped for weeks even before the fight. And you're right, that's that's just probably not happening again.
And I mean, it's wild to see the incarnations of it now with social media fueling it. And and it's it's very interesting. I don't know. I, I really. I wonder because I when I think about the purist type of sport, when you really whittle it down, the idea of two people, one on one with no one else. Right. There's only a handful of sports that give you that kind of pure like one on one who is the best.
And there's fighting. There's tennis, see? So I brought it back and not many others. And this was something, dude, as the kid who played soccer, although I am fond, fond of calling it football, but as a kid who played soccer, growing up as a kid to play football and basketball, growing up team sports. And that was the only thing I was it was like sort of indoctrinated into I used to think that was a country club sport tennis.
I mean I mean, it is technically. But I had no respect for it as a sport because I was so naive. And there are there are a few out there that are so just one v one who is the best and so mentally taxing as well as physically taxing because you don't have you don't have a dime out there. And it's I don't know. So I like to think I'm you know, we'll see what Olympians are doing. But every time she messes around on the tennis court, it's it's exhilarating to watch.
And I ended up I selfishly named her well, my wife and I named her after me. So she's Alexis Olimpia Ohanian Jr.. So I. I don't know. I didn't become a boxer like my namesake. Maybe she won't become a CEO, a tech CEO or an investor like her namesake. But whatever it is, hopefully it's a it's a good time.
The way you describe boxing was when I was growing up, tennis, like Borg versus McEnroe was as important as any other thing that was happening across my guy. And I was just so into it.
And and now I feel like like looking at your your wife, Serena, she it's a little like how we felt with golf, with Tiger in the late 2000s, where when Tiger got hurt, even before the car crash, when he got hurt, he was that year.
You kind of look around and go, wait, I don't care about any of these people what happens? And Serena's been around for so long and and at some point just became the measuring stick for everyone else and women's tennis. And you watch a tournament, your first reaction is where Serena is just still alive, how she do what ran and what ran and ran with her. And it's like the tournament hasn't officially started until she's been challenged. It's going to be so weird when she's gone.
They don't they don't even have anything close to whoever the I know some people would say Asaka, but we just don't have the lineage with her yet. So, you know, I think it's really rare to get to that point in any sport. It's it's next level.
And I appreciate you said I can't remember. I watched the thing you did a year or two ago about Serena. And I was just like my guy, like I loved it. And, you know, I'm pretty out there on on Twitter. I probably should should watch my mouth more often, but I just can't help myself sometimes with some of the commentary and some of the bullshit that I see. But on the whole, I mean, obviously, I agree on the whole.
I think what's so telling is. And I think the Tiger comparison is an apt one, especially in America, right? These are this is a sport tennis that is not at the forefront of a lot of Americans minds. But when it is, it's usually cause and I'll put both Serena and Venus in there, like these two women, these two black women went to a sport that didn't want them, that did everything they could and a lot of ways to keep them out, to keep them from being successful ever since they were young young women, girls and overcame it and and made I mean, captured the attention of the whole world.
But in the process, like. Yeah, I mean, you know, the U.S. Open is you can see in the ratings, right. The people that America wants to watch, the stars, the greats. There's a ton of amazing people playing tennis right now, but Serena and Venus have made it relevant for for us in particular, as well as well as the world in a way that's that's remarkable. And I don't think anyone will fully appreciate until one day when they retire, which will be any time soon.
But when they do, I think then we'll finally get. A little bit of perspective on it, but but look, I'm I'm enamored with the fact that it's opened up the door for so many amazing talents, including me and so many others, that it's great. And I and again, I say this is someone who is a total bandwagon fan of the sport. I watch the match until 2015 when we started dating. But it's it's something fun, man.
It's wild to see.
You know, I think you look back at the career, which has been 20 years now, that first decade, I think the dad, you know, he was he was kind of his generation's LaVar Ball in some ways where he he was talking a lot. And the media instantly was like, who's this guy? So you had that then you had the sister versus sister thing, which I still feel like you would watch those matches. And you were like, are they really are they a hundred percent trying to kill each other in this?
Like, there's so much love between the sisters, like how competitive is this? And there are all these rumors about, oh, they let her win that one and then she gets to win the next one. And I don't feel like it was till the beginning of the 2010s that people really started to be like, wait, holy shit, what's happening here? I remember I went to the Olympics in 2012 and she we saw her in person a couple of times.
She destroyed Sharapova. And there was some back history that because it was one which time which which of the times she's destroyed.
Sharapova, you referring to this is 2012 Olympics. Yeah. All right. And there was that back story of Sharapova bitter once. And since then, Serena would have a little extra every time they played. But to see it in person was the two best things. I saw that in two weeks I went to everything was Usain Bolt and Serena destroying Sharapova? Those are the two best things I saw in two weeks. It was just like clear, like, wow, this is somebody that's not coming around again.
But now, you know, we're in the we're in the twilight and she's got a family now and the whole thing. And it's like, how much longer does this go? And it becomes that old question of when is the athlete now? Dude, I you know, I can't I have no answer, I have no idea I'm here supporting, you know, the same way she's a ceaseless supporter of my career. And she she puts up with a lot more than I knew for sure, but.
You know, I think. This is. This is something only she is going to know and only she is going to answer it at the end of the day. I just continue to be in awe of everything she does and continues to do. And again, I like I don't know, I also had to look at this whole thing with fresh eyes because so, like, one day I'm on Twitter and someone tweets me highlights from a match. And I think it was with Capriati that invented Hawkeye or created the demand for hockey.
Right. And I'm the tech guy. Right. I've invested in companies like Cruz, which is a self-driving car company. Now, it's a multi-billion dollar company when it was just a couple of founders with an idea saying we're going to make a self-driving car. I said, here's some money. Let's help you build it. Right. We have cars that can drive themselves. And this was I mean, five, six years ago and this technology was just getting started.
Calling a ball in in real time is trivial. And so I'm going to all these matches and I'm like, why are there humans doing this job? Yes, someone's like, oh, because it's tradition. And I'm like, OK, but wait, you can challenge the call and then they can use the technology they know they have just to make sure that human got it right around. Like as a technologist, I'm looking at this and as a sports fan and I'm like, why would you take a sport that's potentially perfect?
Because, like, I can't explain to my daughter when it catches in the NFL, I don't actually know how to define a touchdown catch anymore because there's so much nuance and subjectivity and and every other sport has these dynamics, whether it's flopping or pushing for travel calls about things that I'm. But tennis has the chance to actually be pretty damn perfect because it's just, you know, very simple rules and some boundaries that a computer can actually tell you about.
And and I was so delighted. Was it this past tournament in Australia? Because it was fully it was robotic, right? It was Hawkeye doing the calling in and out. So there's no such activity and some complaining about this on Twitter. And yes, someone showed me this clip of this. It was Capriati match and watching this. And I'm just like, how is no one saying anything? How are the commentators not saying anything? Like Serena is getting clearly balls in that they're calling out and vice versa.
She's getting all these calls against her? Like, this is absurd. Like you have one job and you're messing it up and it's very clear and. I I got to relive this thing that, you know, I was years, years late to this frustration that all these fans were feeling and have been feeling for a decade plus. And and it also tapped me into just how much. How much more there is to her matches than than just the win or the loss, right?
There is a hole. There are people all over this world who watch that and see some part of them in her struggle, who see some part of their pain in the injustice of those calls. I mean, you watch this and you're just like how this is how it feels borderline criminal, especially in a sport where the rules are so clear cut. And and that's I mean, I guess that's I think that that layers into so much of what she and her sister have done and overcome and gone through.
And it's awesome. I'm I'm I you know, it's it's the kind of perspective that I. I know Olympia is going to have. Just through those through those tapes, through that footage, right, I mean, be it will have some memories of of her mom playing, which she's already. She's three now. But but there's a whole legacy of conversations and memories and things that, you know, Serena is going to be able to pass on to her.
That will be exciting and and pretty inspirational to have a seat, too. And, you know, I'll tell my great war stories from building tech companies and whatnot, but I'm not quite the same.
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We'll be talking about the NBA like that twenty four day, like, oh, man, remember when the NBA was just completely off the rails for five years or three player reviews and then we had a rebellion and then finally they fixed it?
Do you think is that is there actually a path to that NBA most progressive league?
And it feels like the one that's going to get it right sooner.
But the annoying thing about it is they'll spend five minutes on one call, but then there will be another call and they'll review it. And something clearly happened in it. But they can't review like as much as 30 games today. Jaylen Brown, they're reviewed for a hostile act to get hit in the face. But he didn't shoot a free throw because they missed the call. So they look at it and they're like, yep, no hostile act. It's like, well, what about the free throw he should be getting?
What is the point of this?
Yeah, I it it is it we're you know, in every industry is wrestling right now with technology because it's like it's changing every single thing we do and including sport and the way we play it. And and this is incidentally, why I think this is actually one of the best times to be investing in all things sport. Not I have a sports based venture fund, but my venture fund is it's called seven seven six because seven seven six BCE was the year of the first Olympics.
And though it's not a sports tech fund, I just really liked the symbolism of going back to that first starting line of the paragon of competition and and do this pandemic showed it, though, because it I know people are going to talk to the viewer numbers that were down, although the number itself was higher than I think every other pro sports year, that they're looking at the wrong numbers because television consumption is not the metric for engagement in twenty, twenty or twenty twenty one, for that matter.
Social media is where these conversations are happening, whether it's listening to a podcast, whether it's chatting with your friends on some Subrata, whether it's just even the group chat or all these new platforms.
What about Tic-Tac? I mean, I feel like eyeballs have drifted away from TV to Tic-Tac. That has to be a factor. It is.
It is on a percentage. And you can be versus Tic-Tac is the story of I mean, that's the story of not just last year, right. Billions of dollars invested in a platform with the best actors, the best writers, the best everything, and gets eviscerated in months by teenagers doing dances. And why? Because you can't compete with the creativity of millions and millions of billions of people when the entertainment you're providing has that as an alternative like that two minute short or that five minute short on.
Quimby is fighting for five minutes of attention on the bus with the infinite feed of highly recommended tailored content from the world. And that's you're not going to win that right. No matter how funny that comedian is, no matter how great that script is, they're competing against the world, the hive mind. That's that's not going to win, but. Sport has an unfair advantage because it's the type of entertainment where all of that content, someone reliving the the Kevin Durant dunk, I got to show my Netz bias here, someone recreating that great play in their backyard is not a replacement for the league.
It's just an enhancement. It's one more reason to remember to watch when the next game is on. And so social media is actually a great benefit to sport, unlike every other form of entertainment. Or it's actually a competitor because sport has a monopoly on attention. There's still only that game that you have to make. There's only one championship a year. There's only one winner of every game. Right. There's there's objectivity and there's scarcity. And and so the story of all these things and frankly, a lot of the investing I've been doing is it's been highlighted by this last year that really shows that in a world that is getting increasingly more tribal and fractured, which has a lot of downsides to it.
But but is what sport does so well? Right. It artificially creates tribes that we bleed for and care so much about, even though they're totally made up. And it captures our attention and creates community in ways that no other form of entertainment can. And I think it's just, you know, these these leagues are still so out of touch with technology and improving the user experience and everything else that there's just only upside from here. And and I'm excited, man.
It's it's going to be a great the next 50 years will be an amazing time to be a sports fan. Well, it also looks like the way we're going to be consuming this stuff is going to start to change, you can feel it even with Amazon trying to get NFL rights and stuff like that. And then, you know, I think we're headed to a future where you're going to be able to pick your announcing team. I felt like this is going to happen five years ago, but now I really feel like it's going to happen.
You can have 20 different announcing team picks as you're on Amazon's NFL season ticket thing, and it'll be way more inclusive and way more trying to capture people like my son and basically the narcissist generation. These people who are like who are like, hey, I want it. I know I have no credentials, but get me in there, Bill.
I'm going to spin it for you. I, I agree. I do think there is something really special. This generation, the narcissist generation, the digital native generation, the selfie generation, selfie generation, they're the first generation to think of themselves as much as creators, as consumers of content. And that's powerful, right? We used to watch a movie and we'd be like, that was a good movie and maybe we'd be bullshit with our friends. I have to be like, I would have done this differently, maybe.
But this generation can watch the movie and actually remix it and make it better and upload it and actually have that remix, whether it's a movie or a song or artwork or whatever, be better. And and, you know, even when they're editing silly videos on Tick-Tock, they're using pretty impressive editing techniques. They are interpreting culture and content with the mindset of I can create something even better, which is really empowering. Right. It's like, you know, when you're listening, let's see when we're suffering through.
Joe Buck on an NFL broadcast, is he still doing NFL? I don't even I can't even listen to any of the stuff with the sound on it.
I don't know if I'm going to be still doing it. You just hurt his feelings. Yeah, I like our generation.
We were stuck suffering through that. But our kids are going to be able to. I think to your point, not only will they be able to choose from 20 different announcers, they'll choose from a thousand. And more than half of them are going to be randoms just in their dorm room. Right. They're going to be home grown. They're not going to ever have had a talent agent. They're going to have interesting accents and interesting backgrounds and interesting opinions.
And they'll be people doing voice over work who never would have gotten a job at Fox, who were just going to spend the entire time talking about I don't even know what like they'll have they'll just cover the entire game themselves through just random anecdotes and jokes. Right. They won't even be talking about the game that's happening. And that absurdity is exciting. Right. That absurdity creates the potential for new talents to surface. And and I even I don't know, I I like the fact that I mean, I give you a sort of silly example, but there are people who absolutely geek out over this stuff whose commentary, because they are so expert, is delightful to listen to.
Like, I enjoy hearing folks who are not there to, like, talk down to me or talk to the, like, lowest common denominator of viewer, but actually, like really going to indulge on all the subtleties and the nuance like baseball there is. Oh, my gosh. On What's this guy? Although I'm going to find him on Twitter about John. Boy. Oh, boy. There we go. Yes. OK, so like Jumbo does his views.
I'm not a baseball guy. Like, I watch some games with some buddies, like I'll go for the social effect, but I'm not I'm not here know tracking every box score and and listening to his voice, watching his commentary. I'm like, oh wow. There's a lot more to this game than I ever realized. And it was just because no commentator on Fox or whatever network had ever been creating content for this audience because they were trying to entertain and they're trying to do something else.
So I think it's good. Man, bring on the narcissist generation of creators. What your life is hard and it's not all about that, but.
Well, you created Reddit. What was oh six oh five oh five. Yeah. So that crazy. And at the same time, the blogs are starting to kind of rise. And you had this whole generation of we especially like just think like sports and culture. We had people in newspapers, maybe some people who wrote for mainstream websites, and those were all the critics. And some of them weren't good. Most of them were good. But then you had this new generation like what you're describing of these people who were just really good at hyperfocus stuff.
Right. Like the best possible Celltex blogger, you'd go to some Red Sox message board and there's three people on there and they know more about the team than basically anybody you're reading. And for all the downside that people attribute to some of the stuff and look like, I think you could argue Twitter's probably the worst thing that's happened in the last five years. Technologically, there's still some good stuff to do. And I feel like I got to know my teams a lot better from a lot of the stuff that started in the mid 2000s.
What did you see? I know you've told the story a million times, but I always look at this stuff like you're looking at pieces of turf, right? Like you just what you just laid out now about I saw opportunity in sports. So last year I see a piece of turf I want to grab. What was the turf? You were looking at it? Four or five. It was. If you can believe this, back then in 2004, the the front page of The New York Times was the most important news of the day.
Maybe CNN. I really was the front page New York Times. That was the news of the day. Now you ask yourself from first principles, why? Well, because it had always been that way, because for one hundred plus years or however long that was the institution that had invested all this money in, you know, doing great journalism and providing international broad opinions, thoughtful analysis, all the great stuff. They built a brand. They built a legacy.
And and people like my my dad were like, yeah, I got to have New York Times subscription because that's how I know what's going on in the world.
And that was that was it. And there there was frankly, there was competition, but there wasn't a ton of competition, but there was competition and they were the one and that was the front page. And yet right around this time, blogging was starting to happen more prominently. And it was clear there would never just be one front page for the Internet. Or if you were to build one, it would have to be really. Agnostic, it couldn't just be one newsroom's take because the Internet was clearly so big that the definition of a front page for you, Bill, was just different than a front page for me.
And yet the entire model up until then was some gatekeepers saying this is the most important news of the day because it's on page one of our newspaper and you can pick on any of the large publications of the time. And it just that it was obvious that would not scale. And what we needed to do was build a system inspired by web forums like I ran a Web forum in college that I had started a few hundred people just talking about politics and news and stuff.
And, you know, message boards have been around since the start of the Internet. And what was our way to build something that was a more modern, unified place for people to come and share links they thought were interesting share photos, start discussions and then comments about them and the commenting, which are our initial investor, Paul Graham, tried to talk us out of. And I was like, no, we need comments which are now like everything and really drove so much of the great.
The greatest content there comes from the users who are creative enough to express their ideas. And they invented the Ask Me Anything. They invented so many types of content that now are on the Internet pretty widely. It's just some random user with a good idea. And I think that was the thing that we caught at the right time. And certainly there are things I think we could have executed on better and I could have executed on better over the years.
But but that was the opportunity now and then and now, like we've just gone through the first wave of social right. There's a generation GenZE that's grown up digitally native using these platforms over the last 10, 15 years. And this is bringing about a second wave of social hour hour. And it's a lot of it is a reaction to the first wave and the missteps and the mistakes that we made. So like the first investment we made us, seven, seven, six was a company called Dispo, which is basically a sort of an alternative to Instagram instead of spending.
I mean, imagine you can go out safely and spend instead of spending your night taking a thousand photos with your friends and Photoshopping them and making them perfect and choosing the perfect one to post GenZE wants to just take photos and not look at them. You can actually see these photos until they develop the next day. And so you're living in the moment. You're not living on your phone, and then you socialize the next day with your friends online. And if you're thinking differently about how to build a photo sharing app now in twenty, twenty one, you're not trying to make people chase likes from people who don't actually care about them.
You're not trying to create the environment or things like bullying or so much easier. And I'm excited for the second wave because I think it's going to be way more thoughtful and just way healthier and way more fun and better, because we've we've made we made enough mistakes and learn enough that the new generation is CEO. They're way smarter than I was and they're way more aware because they lived it. They lived you know, they're in their early 20s like I was when I started read it.
But they're they're coming at it with a much wiser perspective.
Are you somebody that you like to build something and then move on to the next thing? Because it seems like you are. Yes, yes, and then I finally resigned myself to that fact and realized that being an investor, starting a firm where I could invest early, be a true believer before anyone else helped the founders build but have a portfolio of companies gave me something that I could build long term wealth and sort of legacy with, which is the fund itself, but still satisfy the kind of like adead of what am I working on today?
Oh, it's going to be a it's a it's a hardware company doing a revolutionary new speaker system or it's a vertical social network for soccer. Like Gloria, like I get the benefit of building a team, building a kind of empire, but but getting to have a different thing on my plate every morning. And it's kind of the best of both worlds.
So you're saying these people in their early 20s who are now going to decide everything that happens in the second generation, but it's also a generation that. You know, they're on there online a lot, a lot, they're very sensitive, sensitive. Yeah, they are. The cancer culture piece still seems like it's being worked out and the varying degrees of are you even allowed to make a mistake anymore? If you're a 15 year old kid and you're on a tick video and you say one dumb thing, make one some one dumb joke, whatever, is your life over?
Like, that's it. You can never go online again. How do we how do we navigate some of this stuff over the next two or three years? Because it seems like we're at a fever pitch now of people just it's like this gotcha culture that I think people think their their heart's in the right place for that. But at the same time, I also feel like people, especially under twenty five and under 20 like you, should be allowed to make mistakes and learn from them.
Isn't that the whole point of having a life? Yes, I so I absolutely agree. And I think the unfortunate answer is. I think it doesn't go away until it's basically time, until there's enough mutually assured destruction of everyone, like part of the disparity here is you have multiple generations from, like pre Internet, middle Internet. It should be me and then the like. We grew up on the Internet and and all of them are now colliding.
And and there's I think I think basically everyone has valid points. But we've reached a point where no one's talking anymore. And it's about either scoring points or or just sort of hating the fact that there are new people who have a platform whose opinion matters and that those are the extremes of my simplifications, of the extremes. And so I think there will be a point, right, when when GenZE is old. And then basically every single person alive has an embarrassing video from high school, including like the oldest folks in the retirement homes and all the people who filled the Senate and the House and its highest levels of business.
And once everyone has that mutually assured destruction of like that embarrassing thing from when they were kids, then it goes away. But in the interim, we have this conflict. And I hope I don't just hope that we get there. We we need to get there through more dialogue and more empathy and more understanding now than ever, because I think the next ten years, especially here in the United States, are going to be crucial. And I'm like from a societal standpoint, absolutely.
We need empathy and understanding more than ever in this country. And at the same time, do I as a as a sort of capitalist businessman, I always I can't escape this fact, which is technology is so drastically shaping our world. Right. The the last year was one of the best years for people plugged in to technology and wealth, one of the best. It's shocking how well it has gone. You can see this in the public markets.
We see this at the same time when it was one of the hardest years for the vast majority of working folks of people. And that is not sustainable. But that is a that is foreshadowing for what the next 10 years are going to unveil, because technology is this great, great multiplier of wealth, of efficiency, of value, if you have access to it, if you have the means to invest in it, if you have all this stuff and if you don't, you're you're you're talking about a much bigger wealth gap in this country.
You're talking about way, way bigger opportunity gap in this country. And that part is is not healthy for a viable republic not to get too heavy. But I think, you know, we have at the same time, we have these strong, strong social pressures which are splitting us and polarizing us. We have these very real economic pressures that are polarizing us. They don't always do so on the same sort of wavelength. And and those are two existential threats to me, frankly, the country and I'm still an optimist.
I say this very optimistic and hopefully maybe sport can be one of the things that helps really helps us realize we have more in common than the not. But it's it's important these next ten years are going to be very, very, very important.
Well, ironically, Redit combines a lot of the stuff we're talking about. Right. Some of the best stuff and some of the worst stuff. And you could really feel it the last four or five years. And as basically these alternate universes are forming in 12, 15, 16, and then kind of just coexisting. And how do you police that, how do you stop it? Should you police it? What are the ramifications of have freedom of speech in this country telling somebody they can't say or write certain things and and it just became a mess.
And it's like Reddit was at the forefront of it. Yeah, yeah, and I mean, all of the and I look, I'm no longer affiliated with a company, I did step down pretty publicly in protest last year. But, you know, look as an out from a sort of outside perspective now. And I've I've gone off on Twitter about this stuff, too, this is. It is ultimately up to any private business to decide what they want on the platform and what they don't just like it's up to, you know, is.
The kinds of policy guidelines a platform wants to set should be in the best interests of if we're being really capitalist, their shareholders. And I would argue that having a place where people feel safe, expressing themselves, a place where people feel they can find their home and just feel safe, period is good for business. And so it's good for shareholders. And then they also have to make decisions about just what kind of values they want to have as a company.
And and that has an impact. Right. The kinds of advertisers they're going to want to be involved, the kinds of users, the kinds of employees, like there's a lot more stakeholders there beyond shareholders. And I think new generation is going to feel way more confident and comfortable saying this is what we're about and this is what we're not about. And and I think what what folks maybe don't realize is the vast, vast, vast, vast, vast majority of people are actually decent people online, like we're talking about tens of thousands of users who are very organized, very motivated, very determined to create so much of the toxicity of most of these platforms.
And and so then the question is, I think, you know, these new platforms will understand, look, we want for all those reasons I mentioned, we want to create a great user experience because we want people to feel all those things around community and purpose and belonging. And so it's actually in their best business interest to say, look, this is where we see where we draw the line. And the reality is, though, it is forever going to be a work in progress in the same way that like, you know, technology creates new opportunities and also creates new risks, deep fakes being the most recent one.
I mean, there's going to be there's going to be videos of Bill Simmons saying things that just literally have never said before, but none probably saw the Tom Cruise ones. This technology is here. It is not going away. There's going to be a new industry created just to have watermarked videos one day just so that you can do basically digitally sign that. Yes, I Bill Simmons made this video in the same way that like you can think of it as like I mean, it seems scary at the start, but in the same way that like, if someone doctor's a tweet, you know, eventually it sort of gets sussed out that, oh, this was Photoshopped because someone else has the actual original tweet.
Or you can there's like a proof of record so that the world is not rife with fake Photoshop. Tweets may exist, but there's not like billions of them because we are sort of immune system has learned that we need to see some more proof. It'll be the same thing with deep fakes in these videos that look really, really real but are totally artificially generated through AI. And it's an arms race. And and I you know, there's lots of there are there is value to creating things like that one way or another.
The technology is not stopping because someone's going to someone's going to create it somewhere. And then it's on it's on the entrepreneurs. It's on creators is on platforms to decide, OK, what are the things we're doing to protect our users? What are the things we can build to to make better alternatives? But like I said, that's why I said the next ten years are going to be. Very important to get right, because we already see the prevalence of fake news using pretty low tech technology and it's effective.
So what happens when it gets much, much, much better? This episode of the Bill Simmons podcast is presented by Uber, it's select from a range of your favorite neighborhood restaurants with Uber eats.
Tonight, I'll be eating local, specifically Italian, because I'm half Italian. You know, it travels great on Uber. It's chicken parmesan, one of my favorite entrees. It's something I get all the time because again, I'm half Italian. Eat local with Uber eats tonight. Do you think the Internet, you think it should have? It should be like a driver's license, you go on the Internet, you have to apply like because you could argue you could do just as much damage on the Internet as you could behind the wheel of a car.
Right. And and we're so careful about like I'm going through right now with my daughter. You'll go through it someday. Fifteen and a half. Now she's she's driving us around because she's got her permit. And it's, by the way, completely terrifying, harrowing. Pick a word. It's the worst. But there's this whole process before she's allowed to drive. And I wonder, like maybe the Internet should work this way. Maybe there should be a footprint for everybody.
And maybe that's the solution for this. I don't think it'll ever happen. But it's it's hard to see the downside of it. It will.
It would probably have. It would. OK, we definitely not heard. You know, there are still plenty of people who have driver's licenses who are terrible, irresponsible, reckless drivers who cause problems, so it's not going to solve things, but that's the thing. But I think so, without a doubt, media literacy should be a part of the education of every kid, like formalize it. I think personal finance is another one that's like borderline criminal that we don't teach young people, because then as soon as they're 18, it's like, would you like a credit card?
And it's like, whoa, whoa, wait, wait. There's a lot of people who are making a lot of money thanks to the fact that you have a population that doesn't have exposure to personal finance at young age. So I'm school loans.
Same thing. One hundred percent. Hey, yeah. You go to college, you just pay later. OK, cool. Good deal.
Yeah. One hundred percent. And and so where that comes from, I mean, you know, there's a long list of things that we need in terms of education reform. So I can't give you a really pragmatic answer because I don't know how that change comes. But I would I would say media literacy needs to be a part of every child's education, whether it's the parents doing it. I'm sure there's probably some startups pitching some version of it, but that's that's going to be important.
Now, it goes the other way, though. You still have a population of I'm going to avoid the OK boomer meme. You have a population of boomers who are notorious for sharing misinformation on social media. They're the biggest they're actually the most likely based on some, I guess, fairly rigorous studies to to share fake news and misinformation because they you know, they came up in an era where, yeah, you trusted the one of a handful of trusted sources for news.
And so if something shows up in your news feed, it's probably true. Why ask, so what do you do there? It's like there's there's a lot a lot that's going to be changing these next ten years and. I don't know, I'm trying to do my best to make sure that I'm helping build the things that are part of the positive, I got to speed round questions for you. OK, we we're trading cards.
Yeah. So I've had like a whole long history with that. And then, like, a lot of people reignited it again during the pandemic. But it's been astonishing to watch it, to get cards out of my house, put my safety deposit boxes because things were like tripling and quadrupling and quintupling.
I was like, oh my God. And it doesn't seem like it's going away and it ties into a lot of, you know, stuff that's just happening in the country right now where gambling speculation, hedge fund type stuff, people just like to bet on assets and hoping it turns out, and then foreign money coming in, rich people coming in and trying to push the market so. Well, how long have you been in it? And did you did it increase?
I I'm doing OK.
I have I collected as a kid in the 90s, so most of that collection is pretty worthless. You know, I was I was the dork who kept it in condition and like, I wasn't wearing gloves back then, but I was still pretty unsteady and I never let my friends touch my cards or anything like that. I was a really fun kid.
And and then I came back around maybe a year and a half ago because a buddy of mine got much smarter than me, was like, Hey, man, I got back into card collecting lately. You should really check it out. And I was like, wait, what? Trading cards? That's a thing now. And he turns me on a couple of forums and there's some different communities on Reddit, too. And I'm I'm thinking, oh, man, this reminds me like twenty twelve.
I stumble into the Bitcoin community on Reddit and I'm like, this is Kukan. Like there's a lot of smart people I, I don't quite. Believe that this will become what they think it will, because at the time it was very like this is going to be the formation of a new digital first society.
But I was like I was getting this little bit ended up investing in Coinbase back in like twenty fourteen. That's that's turning out pretty well. We'll see how the IPO goes. But now flash back to a couple of years ago and I'm like, OK, I understand what this is. I don't need to read a white paper like I get it. I collected these things. This is a new type of contemporary art because it's culture, right? Sport is culture and it's a scarce, scarce asset.
There's only a few they're beautiful. I mean, some are more beautiful than others and they have value. And so I started dipping in and then like a good husband, I'm like, I got to start. I can buy my wife's cards.
This is great. Which I forget. What's a rookie card? It's like two thousand range.
There's a twenty three Met-Pro. They did a whole series. That's actually those those kits were very valuable to pick up because if even if you get the the packs or the boxes, because it was Rafa's rookie card, Rogers rookie card and Serena and Venus and, and so that there's a bunch of different approaches that kind of created like glossy and international different versions. But that's arguably the rookie. She has a Sports Illustrated kid's card from the ninety eight, I think is is a is that one is kind of like the true one, but it's like a really thin paper.
So that one's been harder to get Jemmett grade. But I started collecting because sure enough. You know, tennis cards were back then notorious, like just ridiculously undervalued because who was collecting donors, like collecting tennis cards or they couldn't give those things away, I'm sure. And then women's tennis cards are Serena's and and Venus as well. We're just ridiculously undervalued. So I just started buying as many as I could and buying on my mind. And I'm giving them my wife.
And she's like, can you just get me, like a purse next time?
Or some jewelry in my knob? This is a gift. This is an investment. Trust me. Like, trust me. And she's like, OK, weirdo, because for because for the athletes out of these other athletes. But like for her, she's just like, OK, like, I guess the trading card is kind of weird that you're giving me, but OK. And I and I said, no, you don't understand. Like this is this is like investing in Serena Williams stock.
Like this is going to change everything because a new generation of athletes coming up now understands that they're more than just an athlete. They know they're building a community and a following and all these other businesses. And, yeah, they can create a Delaware C corp and invest in that, literally. But the other way to invest really in themselves is having these, you know, vaulted because whether they're having success on the court or off, it's going up in value.
Right. It's like when Floyd Mayweather used to bet on himself before fights.
Well, yes, but but totally legal and ethical. Yes. And and that's like that is a powerful sea change. And then once you started seeing the prices going up, she was like, OK, this was a good gift. Thanks. And so I you know, I've become this obsessive collector and also was buying into I'm very big on the culture and sort of that long term value because I'm an early stage investor. So I want to buy early and undervalued and and really help it grow to long term.
So I've got a ton of like like Alex Morgan cards, Megan Rapino cards. I mean, I do have a football club in Angel City FC, but I also know, like, these women are tremendously undervalued. And, you know, if I believe this eventually gets to be as easy as buying and selling stocks, then think of all the cultural value, especially women athletes have. Those women I just named are icons who have transcended their sport.
If you give the population access, that's diseases, buying and selling shares. Half the population or women who are basically being left out of most of this industry right now is very male dominated. I think when you start to see more efficiency, you're going to see way more movement even there. And, you know, I'm a I'm a hotel guy. I'm going from Bitcoin terminology. I'm I'm definitely holding for the long term. And and then this CEO, I knew law says, hey, man, I've been collecting too.
And I'm actually trying to build a platform to make it as easy to buy and sell trading cards as it is to buy and sell stocks. And eventually we do all kinds of alternative assets. And I was like, say no more. I need to invest. I need to lead this round. And we end up leading their series. And the company is ALZ. We launched last week. And so, you know, I didn't want to manage my portfolio in a spreadsheet anymore, so I just manage an adult.
And I didn't want to have to explain to my wife why there were all these cards in my closet. And so now they're voting them for me. So it's the very start of building this marketplace. And I'm I'm excited, man. This is it's a reflection of. The shift that is happening and you saw it a little bit with GameStop and Wall Street vets, you saw it with crypto, you're seeing with Nettie's, you know, GenZE or let's say digital natives in particular are seeing zero percent interest rates.
So you put your near zero. So you put your money in the bank. You're not going to make any money on savings. They're understanding now that financial literacy is increased, that as long as the Fed is printing money and keeps dumping money into the system, inflation is going to probably keep going up and interest rates are going to probably stay low. So where do you make money? Because if you keep in the bank, even the savings account, you're not only not making money on interest, it's losing value as as the currency is getting inflated.
And so I think that's given rise to all these alternative assets or all these alternative investments. And and in particular, you know, now they realize, like, OK, well, what are rich people during this doing during this time? Like, they're investing in things that have higher yields of return, like alternative assets, like art, for instance. So, OK, I want a taste of that, too. Why not? And just in the same way, we've seen buying and selling stocks gotten off to call up your broker, you just do it with a couple of taps.
You're combining a generation that is digitally native and understands great user interfaces and is motivated enough to just do it themselves with a feeling of distrust around institutions where they're like, well, if it's good enough for them, it should be good enough for me too. And you you start looking at the pieces that like you brought up student loan debt, a whole generation told work hard, get good grades, go to college. Don't worry about that student loan debt.
You're going have a great job after we're looking around going, OK, wait, I did all the things you told me for all those years. I did what you said, and now I have a ton of student loan debt and I don't have that job that I was told and that I had worked so hard toward. And it feels like a bum deal. And and so I think you combine that with the financial crisis and banks getting bailed out, average Americans footing the bill and and it layers.
And then you democratize access to technology. And I think this is just the start. Many you brought up sports betting. It's it's finally taking hold here in the US and it's good for us.
I mean, it's it's wild because, you know, the states are certainly motivated after covid now because it's against additional revenue for them. Selfishly, I think that's going to help drive a lot of it. They're going to they're not going to want the tax revenue, additional revenue. And then as you see that evolve, it's like one part of it is you scratch your back actually betting on the game, and then you also scratch your itch, making the sort of long term investment like don't don't just bet on KDDI for the game, bet on him for his career by investing in the asset, by investing in sort of him through the cards.
And and I'm curious to see where this goes. But there was a. I don't know, there was definitely a moment in it was a game three post was a post game press conference where LeBron was talking in the bubble finals, where he was asked about the card that had sold for like one point eight. And actually Lewa, who found it all, it was the guy who bought it. Interestingly enough, LeBron gets asked about it and he's like, yeah, you know, it's crazy.
A lot of money. You know, when I was growing up, I never could have imagined a trading card being worth that much. But I know I have to in my safe. So no matter what, my family is going to be good or something like that. And I felt like this is a turning point because. I really believe for this new generation coming up of athletes, they're thinking of themselves the same way as that new generation of the YouTube owners, of content creators, of podcasters like they know what their business is, is more than just specifically what they do.
They have to be multifaceted. They have to build a community. They have to be thinking for the long term. And and I just see this I just see it continuing to grow. And it took my dad six years to buy his first Bitcoin. And I was like that. We invest in Coinbase in twenty twenty, thirteen, twenty fourteen. I was like that, please, please. My son never did. Convincing him the value of like the eighty six Fleer Jordan rookie card.
Much easier, much easier. And I think that's a huge, huge shift that we're, we're only starting to see. And I don't. I hope I hope you've got hope. You've got them graded Bill and then properly vaulted. If not we can help with that. Now let's say I was the only child. Of course I was going to click cards, but in the eighties they didn't have the PC stuff. So you buy you'd go to the card shows, you would actually really study the card and try to make sure it was truly meant.
And then things really changed. eBay was the second wave. And so two or three earlier that time, that's one. There's a lot of fraud back then, but there was also some good opportunity and great deals. And then I it's funny you mentioned it was a male dominated industry. That's an understatement. We used to go to the collector convention every year. It was all guys. You might see six women out of two thousand people at the collector's thing.
So I'd be interested to see if you're right about more females.
I, I think about this based on memetics strength. And I'm fond of saying every business has to be a meme and not just like not like a meme. Like the image memes we think about that are just silly gifs or whatever, but like it needs to be mimetic. It needs to be something that people want to share because it's so unique, because it's so creative, it's so funny and something. And you're seeing this across the board on the Internet.
The way to build an audience and get attention is through mimetic growth, something that people just really want to talk about and share and build community around. And that's value, right. What's the reason the GameStop stock and this is not financial advice is worth what it is, is because a bunch of people believe in it being worth that because it has this memetic value where they can't help but talk to one another about it or literally make Meems about it.
And so markets are only going to get more and more driven by this reality because community and capital have never been able to interplay in real time at the scale before because now millions of people can coordinate with a tweet or with a post or with whatever and actually move dollars and those, you know, maybe one hundred dollars or a thousand dollars. But in aggregate, that is a lot of money. That's enough to nearly kill. Was it Melvern Capital.
Right. And a big time hedge fund. And this is just these are early innings. And so the reason I bet on the memetics strength of these athletes and particularly women athletes, is that you just need to look at the energy and the attention and the interest when they sort of go viral, when they look like you may not have never watched it NWSL match, but you've probably got the Megan Rapinoe pose in your head right after that goal. You may hate Megan Rapinoe and you still know that pose.
You may love Rapino. And I definitely know you know that you love that pose. That is memetics strength you can't pay for. Right. Alex Morgan insipidity on eaglet like there is there is community built around that. And and the idea that you could put dollars behind it as a fan and if you believe that other people in your tribe believe in this player in their long term strength to that they'll put money into and then it keeps going up and then it reinforces that.
I think it's like we're going to look back on it as as one of the sort of most obvious in hindsight investments. This is why it's why invest in Angel City like out the gate. This team has brand partnerships with amazing companies like Dorda is our main sponsor. They set records for that kit deal, not just for the NWSL, but like records around women's pro sports, because there's been this latent energy, this hunger brands want to be associated with it.
Fans want to be associated with it. It just wasn't given a sort of equal do. And and so I'm excited to see what happens now that we invest with the same fervor and excitement and energy, because that leveling the playing field. I mean, look, just in the same way, when if Serena's not in the U.S. Open, those ratings ratings go down. Right. There is a lack of interest. There's lack of energy that has value.
And today we only calculate that value based on maybe some decrease in ticket sales and decrease in viewer dollars and ad dollars. That's a small part of the story. And and I'm I'm very excited to see it because I look, I want should my daughter want to play sports? You better believe I want her to be paid just as much as her male counterparts. And you better believe I want to see the next 15 years of work. Helping supply meet demand, helping the market actually be more efficient to show just how valuable these women are.
And with women, soccer particular, I mean, these women are literally the best in the world and they have been year after year after year. And the average American can't tell you too many MLS players. No disrespect. MLS can tell you, but they can tell you about Alex, they tell you about Megan. And that means cultural value. That means importance. And and I think once I think Americans love greatness and we love excellence and and I think we have a huge opportunity to introduce them to soccer where they don't really have I mean, unless you're really paying attention overseas, you're not really paying attention to soccer day to day as a sports fan in the US because there's so much competition.
Right. It's a huge wide space for for us. And I say with no disrespect to MLS, they've grown by leaps and bounds and they're doing very well. But I do think long term, it's on the women's side because frankly, for a lot of Americans, soccer is a sport played by women. Right. That is the stereotype. And part of that is just because our women have been so damn dominant and good and the men not so much.
I could you have to go, but I could do 20 minutes on the disparity with just living through my daughter, like how boys teams are treated versus the girls and stuff like that. It's bad, but maybe 15 years there would be better. We've got to get you in a team.
We need to get you to be. Are you allowed to be an owner in a in a New England women's football club?
You sure you cook something? All right. And I talk to you after three speed round questions for you and then we have to go. These are quick, quick answers. All right. I'll try. Do you ever get used to actually dating a famous person, being out in public with somebody who's actually legitimately famous because of the Internet guys and not famous?
Yeah, no, no, no.
I'm saying, like, just just being out in public at a restaurant when all the I's stop and they're just staring at her. Do you ever get used to it? I'm not at all. I'll never get used to it. And I still I mean, I got to puff up my chest to get in front of guys who come over to the table just to say hi. And I'm like, dude, I'm on a date with my wife here.
I had this happen after our anniversary. And I almost I mean, I had words with this guy because I'm just like, you need to just walk away, dude. He had a few drinks in them and he gets confident, comes over. And I'm just like, I'm trying to have an anniversary to my wife here. So, no, I don't get used to it.
And I'm I'm. Yeah. All right. Second question. Did you did you study? Other other spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends of people sitting in the box and how they reacted after big points and big games to their famous tennis player partner, it did not. Did not.
And what's good is if your research team looks on YouTube, they'll find clips of me at D.C. football games like screaming, I get reckless at sporting events. Right. And I've made it on ESPN years ago for my antics. I can't bring any of that to tennis. Sucks because you're supposed to be restrained in between points and stuff. And so, grandmother, my mother in law, Serena's mom, was saying she was the one who coached me. And so if I got too loud or something, she'd give me a look and I'd be like, OK, all right.
Noted, this is not the right time to cheer. So that's that's all the coaching I needed.
I think the goat for Boxer reactions was Pete Sampras, his wife, Brigitte Wilson. Sampras, the actress. She was just great. So great. She's a professional. Yeah. You met at the study study some of her YouTube. See some of the tricks she had. Last question. How tall are you? Six foot five. OK, so here's my theory and then we can end on this. I think the athletic genes come from the mom.
I'm not saying one hundred percent, but I really I think it's like seventy five to eighty. But the dad still needs to throw something in, whether it's height, maybe, maybe some muscle and stuff like that. I just have high hopes for your daughter. I'm just I'm monitoring it there. Rookie cards for your daughter. I'm buying them now.
I appreciate that, Bill. You'll know they'll be you won't miss it. That first run of Olympio handed out that one of these days. I am very hopeful. And I can tell so far she's inherited all of her mom's best qualities, including her athleticism, which we're all grateful for. She does look like she's getting my height, though, because she's she's already like three, three and a half feet tall. She's a tall. She's like ninety nine percentile.
And so Papa Bear definitely brought some height. And so I think it'll help her with the Serbs, you know. But again, no pressure, no pressure, whatever she wants to do. Well, she could.
Zarghun, you like Agassi and Steffi Graf was what, a hockey player or baseball player. Oh, all right. All right. You could still be she could be an engineer and a CEO and a startup founder, too. I'll be very happy. We'll be happy no matter what I'm offering.
I'm honoring the rookie card, so I'll start searching on eBay in about eight years.
You won't you won't be able to miss it. And I'll get you I get you anything. Appreciate it. Thanks for coming on. This is fun. Cool. I've, I've got to be on for a minute and very, very happy to be on here. All right. Cool. Best luck with everything. Thanks, Bill. All right, that's it for the podcast, don't forget about the rewash rebels in Syria. It's up now to more come in next week.
And me and Ryan Rosillo reacting at the trade deadline that is going to be up earlier than usual on Thursday. As soon as we can get it up right after the trade deadline. Might have a special guest or two as well as the anthers. Simply safe is incredibly easy to customize for your home. Just go to simply save dotcom jobs, you can easily choose the exact sensors you need or get help from one of their experts. It'll get to your house in about a week, which means by this time next week, you and your whole family can go to bed knowing your home is being guarded.
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