LeBron James isn’t retiring

He’ll be back

Going to get this in writing real quick just so I can do the sports media thing in a couple of months and say I told you so: LeBron James isn’t retiring. The guy had 40, 10, and 9 in a closeout game, and the Los Angeles Lakers were a second scorer away from the NBA Finals. This is simply a little motivation for the front office to pour a little more dark magic, and a lot more money, into the trade machine. I don’t know who Rob Pelinka will blackmail to do it, but he’ll land someone, and Stephen A. Smith will melt on the set of First Take.

Will LeBron James actually retire? | Agree to Disagree
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Will LeBron James actually retire? | Agree to Disagree

LeBron’s entire marketing campaign this year was him versus Father Time. At one point in Game 4 Jamal Murray got him on a switch, and James locked him the fuck up. We all know he can still play, and he’s going to keep playing because Michael Jordan and his fans have given James an inferiority complex.

LeBron says jump, and ESPN says ‘Woof, woof’

The only reason I’m writing this is because I know it will do traffic, and that’s the only thing that matters to advertisers. Oh, piece of Lakers content. Oh, piece of LeBron content. Oh, piece of “He said retirement?” content.

This is the first time that I can remember James publicly mulling retirement, and he’s been a member of the AARP for long enough to justify whatever you think this is. Whether it’s a petty plea for attention, or legit, I don’t really care because I stopped letting things like this bother me. Carmelo Anthony just called it a career, Chirs Paul is in the process of embalming, and LeBron has to be pondering how ornate he wants his sarcophagus. (My guess is Pyramid of Giza, which is why he’s not retiring.)

Everyone can control how they react, and if you want to question reality, grovel, pontificate, debate, etc. feel free. I’m not going to do that because Bronny is a year away from being an undrafted free agent, and the Lakers were just in the Western Conference Finals. Anthony Davis was playing so well that I was three seconds from jumping headfirst into Big Sur.

Honestly, I don’t even think I’ll get much credit for being right on this. It’s more of a non-story than the couple of instances where Aaron Rodgers teased life after relevance.

So consume all of the Lakers/LeBron/what’s next podcasts that you’d like. It’s a free country for another 18 months, and if you want to spend the last precious moments of unregulated American air begging the King to continue his reign, you won’t be the only one. 

ESPN spent millions on Pat McAfee in the middle of company-wide layoffs

ESPN’s newest talking head

You have to spend money to make money. But you can’t save money if you keep spending — unless you’re ESPN.

On Tuesday, “the worldwide leader in sports” officially announced that Pat McAfee would “expand his multiplatform ESPN role as ‘The Pat McAfee Show’ moves to ESPN this fall.” McAfee is continuing his role on College GameDay and will host various college football broadcasts. His show will air live on weekdays on ESPN, ESPN’s YouTube Channel, ESPN’s app, and ESPN+.

Pat McAfee walks away from $120 million FanDuel deal

Over the last few years, McAfee has been one of the biggest names in the industry. The former Indianapolis Colts punter is cashing out in his post-playing career, as he’s walking away from a four-year $120 million deal he had with FanDuel. He might be the highest-paid talent at ESPN, given that it wouldn’t make sense to walk away from a gig that was paying him $30 million annually unless he was getting a raise at his new job. And if we assume that McAfee is making more at ESPN than he was at FanDuel — details of the contract haven’t been made public — his potential contract, that’s more than likely worth more than $30 million per year, leads the clubhouse when it comes to household names at ESPN.

Let’s take a look:

This is going to be a PR nightmare for ESPN

It appears that McAfee will sit atop the class when it comes to yearly and total compensation. Congratulations to him, especially since ESPN was willing to throw him the bag. But, here’s the problem — this is going to be another public relations nightmare for the company.

“Pat is a proven talent. He and his team have built The Pat McAfee Show into one of the most engaging programs in sports and all of media,” said ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro about the signing. “It’s a destination for athlete interviews and breaking news, and the centerpiece of a growing community of sports fans. We’re honored to bring Pat and the show to ESPN through a multifaceted, multiplatform approach.”

McAfee’s contract doesn’t line up with what Pitaro has said in the past — a man who has a long history of saying one thing and doing another.

“As we advance as a core segment of Disney, with operational control and financial responsibility, we must further identify ways to be efficient and nimble,” Pitaro wrote in a company memo last month, as ESPN is amid rolling layoffs that will cut 7,000 jobs and $5.5 billion in costs. “We will continue to focus our workforce on initiatives that are most closely aligned with our critical priorities and emphasize decision-making and responsibility deeper into the organization.”

What about layoffs?

“I do not want to minimize the enormous toll of saying goodbye to dedicated colleagues that have worked tirelessly to strengthen ESPN and deliver for sports fans,” added Pitaro.

How do you get rid of that many people and positions in hopes of saving that much money, while acquiring someone who costs as much as McAfee?

Make it make sense (cents)…and dollars.

“People are looking over their shoulders. People are concerned, ‘Will I be next?” former longtime ESPN employee Howie Schwab once warned. “People don’t approach ESPN the same way they used to, from some of the veteran people I’ve spoken to. It’s really disappointing. Because ESPN was a great place to work.”

Again, this isn’t on McAfee, as he didn’t do anything wrong — besides being the biggest amplifier of Aaron Rodgers’ fake news. It’s on Pitaro, ESPN, Disney, and the rest of the industry.

Also on Tuesday, layoffs began within Turner Sports/Warner Bros. Discovery, as some employees in production were laid off without any notice. Back in October, TNT’s “Inside the NBA” crew of Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Shaquille O’Neal, and Charles Barkley all signed long-term contract extensions. And in November, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav publicly said, “We don’t have to have the NBA.”

And earlier this week, Monday Morning Quarterback’s Senior Writer Albert Breer called the NFL out for their layoffs as revenues are going up, on top of the league agreeing to pay NBC $110 million for a one-year deal to broadcast a Wild Card playoff game on Peacock.

The high-priced talent who take these massive contracts don’t deserve to catch flack. Save that for the executives. The issue lies with the companies who lie about what they can and can’t afford, as if layoffs don’t have a trickle-down effect on the quality of production. A writer is nothing without an editor, in the same way, that on-screen talent is useless without a crew and a producer. You can’t have one without the other. Well, so we thought. The way things are going in this industry, one day there might not be anything left but talent who’ll be left useless because all the people they needed got laid off.

LeBron James vs. Nikola Jokić, and the other Lakers-Nuggets Western Conference Finals storylines

It will be a showdown between two former multiple-time MVPs

We did not get Kevin Durant vs. Stephen Curry in the Western Conference Finals. Instead, the participants in the series are the best teams in the conference — the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers.

With LeBron James back in the conference finals for the first time the series is at its proper spot on the sports calendar since 2018, many sports fans are about to be introduced to Nikola Jokić. The 2021 and 2022 MVP is a recognizable name, but far from one of the faces of professional sports. Not only does he play in Denver, but most of his local fans can’t even watch him play due to a disagreement in the thriving industry of cable television.

Playing against James, I hope Jokić is aware that after this series his face is about to become significantly more recognizable not only in America but across the entire world.

This is arguably the most intriguing matchup of the 2023 NBA postseason, and also a recent conference finals rematch with the main characters still in the same jersey. So let’s go over some of the most important storylines.

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He is a much better player in 2023 than he was in 2020. Specifically, he is two MVP trophies better. Losing to the Lakers in 2020 was expected by the public, and not viewed by much of it with an airborne disease coating the world. Also, those Western Conference Finals were played in October instead of May.

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This time around his team finished the regular season as the No. 1 seed in the West. He, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr. still make up the rest of the Nuggets’ top three. On top of that, the roster around that nucleus has not only improved, but become a force.

The Lakers are better than both of the Nuggets’ 2023 postseason opponents even though they’re a No. 7 seed. These Western Conference Finals are the biggest test of Jokić’s career. And this time the NBA is riding 20-plus year highs in television ratings. He has been by far the best player this postseason. We’ll see if that continues for the next two weeks. 

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He has been the best player on the floor in two consecutive series, and that includes one against Stephen Curry. As impressive as he was guarding the most lethal long-range shooter in NBA history, it’s time for him to go up against someone his own size.

Jokić’s strength is going to test Davis, as well as that pick-and-roll action with Jamal Murray. Davis is going to have to be able to alternate from using all his might to gain positioning in the post to scrambling to stop the best two-man game in the sport.

Then on the other side of the floor, he needs to put Jokić to work on defense. A tall task for a tall man.

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The Nuggets strengthened their bench during the offseason, while the Lakers fortified theirs during the offseason. Doing so greatly changed the fortunes of both franchises.

It’s the playoffs so starters and stars will play the biggest roles, but a few players must be dependable coming off of the bench. Rui Hachimura, Lonnie Walker IV (pictured above, right), and whoever doesn’t start between Jarred Vanderbilt and Dennis Schröder, or Bruce Brown, Jeff Green, and Christian Braun — choose your fighters.

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There have been questions about Darvin Ham (pictured) throughout this season, but if nothing else he held the Lakers together during their darkest hours — that 2-10 start. Through injuries and a thin roster, the Lakers still remained viable in the postseason hunt. Then as soon as they got reinforcements they went on a roll and ended the regular season with 43 wins.

When DeMarcus Cousins spoke highly about Michael Malone, that should have been a dead giveaway the Sacramento Kings never should have fired him. Their loss has been the Nuggets’ gain as Malone has used Jokić’s unique talent to rain points upon the NBA. Also, that team winning 48 games last season was a Herculean feat.

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He took it upon himself to close out the Warriors. At some point that James will show up against the Nuggets, but what about the other moments?

While he can’t go Super Saiyan for four nights, he still has to be the Lakers’ second-best player. James has to run the offense and is going to have to be a factor in defending the Nuggets’ pick-and-roll that comes with a side of the 6-foot-10 Porter always lurking behind that 3-point line. The Lakers don’t need MVP LeBron, but they do need an all-star more nights than not.

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There is always a possibility of a key player getting injured, thereby shattering the series. With the Nuggets and Lakers though, the chances are a bit higher. I’m going to be a bit superstitious here and not names. I am very much looking forward to this series and don’t want to speak anything into existence.

However, NBA fans know the players in this series who make them uneasy when gimpy for even a slight moment.

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There is a reason that every time the Nuggets have a good team they have one of the best home records in the NBA. That reason is spelled out in their free-throw arc — 5,280.

That number is the elevation that the Lakers will be playing at for a potential four road games. Southern California is mountainous, but not at the site of Lakers’ home stadium in LA Live or their practice facility in the South Bay. Lungs both young and old are going to have to acclimate to Denver quickly.

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It has been worse, but it has also definitely been better. Mike Greenberg and Stephen A. Smith at the desk shows how seriously ESPN takes its NBA product, but putting well-known people on camera is not a surefire way to make a good program.

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Too often the studio show turns into a five-minute sports-talk radio segment. Combine that with the game not tipping off until at least 15 minutes after the scheduled time and pregame introductions not being televised, there is no ramp-up leading into the action on the floor.

Maybe with only one game per broadcast tip-off will arrive more quickly, but I would much rather watch the player intros than Stephen A. being maximum Stephen A. That is a dish best served in the daytime.

We’re all for the Miami Heat dunking on Stephen A. Smith

Stephen A.’s Knicks couldn’t come through

Longtime ESPN on-air personality Stephen A. Smith has made no secrets about where his NBA loyalties lie, and it’s in The Big Apple with the Knicks. And New York’s season ended Friday night with a Game 6 loss to the Heat. Of course, Smith took the loss personally, but that didn’t stop Miami from recognizing his fandom before moving on to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Heat tweeted out a video with the caption: “You’ll be going back to the Garden @stephenasmith … next season. #WINNING” with images of Smith praying on ESPN’s airwaves and a Miami fan waving goodbye from inside Madison Square Garden. The Knicks and Heat have a long playoff history against one another and New York’s faithful thought a No. 8 seed-Miami team was the franchise’s best chance to advance to a conference championship for the first time since 2000, a season that featured a seven-game series victory over the Heat.

Smith’s post-game video didn’t shy away from lambasting anyone that wasn’t Jalen Brunson. The ESPNer’s video also came with recommendations for how the franchise could win its first NBA title since 1973, when Smith was five years old. The biggest is in the video’s caption, acquiring Damian Lillard from the Trail Blazers, like adding an aging guard is going to elevate the team. Poor Stephen. His life is so hard.

The idea of Kevin Durant was always better than the real Kevin Durant

KD was supposed to help Phoenix win a title

Whenever someone talks about Kevin Durant, they bring up what he is capable of doing a lot more than they bring up what he actually does. I could retire if I had a dollar for every time Stephen A. Smith has said “6-foot-11, can pull up from 30.” But he doesn’t actually get the job done very often.

People constantly overstate how good Durant is both in terms of today’s NBA and their rankings of the best players of all time because he’s a great scorer and shooter… that is also tall.

As you’re probably well aware, both of his championships came after joining a team that went 73-9, eliminated his own team from the playoffs, and was one year removed from winning a championship. Since leaving the Warriors, Durant has been teammates with Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Chris Paul, and Devin Booker. No other player has come close to having that amount of talented teammates in the past three years.

KD lacks a signature playoff moment

Apart from that one long-distance dagger against the Cavs in the finals, he doesn’t have any signature playoff moments that come to mind. Scoring is obviously the most important skill an NBA player can have with the way the rules favor offense, but that ability causes people to overlook his drawbacks. He shows flashes of good defense at times but by and large, isn’t great. He’s not a particularly good rebounder for a 7-footer. He doesn’t create that many shots for others. And a lot of times he’s pretty inefficient.

To be fair, players that are expected to take a lot of shots can’t really sustain efficient shooting numbers for long. And you’re not really expected to be a great defender when you’re also the team’s first option on offense.

That being said, it was Durant’s offense that failed him in their series loss against the Nuggets. It took him 23.2 shots per game to score 29.5 points per game.

Revisionist history

There’s a crazy revisionist history about him. When he was traded to the Suns earlier this season, it was unilaterally declared a super team and the favorite to win the title. Now some are saying that they need to build around Durant with more “defense and role players.”

He joined a team with two other all-stars and a recent No. 1 pick. When is he finally going to get some help? Durant made six three-pointers in the entire series. He needs to start helping himself.

Since leaving the Warriors, he’s been on two super teams that have failed to even reach the conference finals, let alone win a championship. He was not the best player on those Warriors championship teams even if he won finals MVP both times.

About a year ago, Draymond Green said that Steph Curry was double-teamed seven times as much as Durant during the 2017 and 2018 finals. The ever-defensive Durant said this was “100 percent false.” I mean, I guess he’s technically right. It wasn’t seven times as much, but Curry was doubled more. Even then head coach of the Cavaliers has since said that was his plan.

Curry has won a championship before Durant arrived in Golden State and after he left, but some people still insist that he needed Durant. And although the Warriors are currently trailing the Lakers 3-2 in their series, there’s a chance they could come back and advance further in the playoffs than the Suns.

Yes, Kevin Durant is a great player, but not as great as many people say because they’re grading him on a curve. The argument as to why Durant is better than Curry pretty much begins and ends with “he’s taller.” The fact that he COULD shoot over anybody and carry a team, doesn’t mean he actually does it. No other superstar gets that level of benefit of the doubt. At no point in time was the taller Khris Middleton the best player in the world.

IDIOT OF THE MONTH: April was bad

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Welcome to Deadspin’s IDIOT OF THE MONTH! We’re here to make you think about death and get sad and stuff.

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He stomped a guy. We all saw it. The fuck, man?

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We already know which face Tucker Carlson made when he was getting an unexpected call from The Turk of Fox News. It’s the same confused look he makes while taking a dump on the truth while muddying the political waters by becoming the right wing’s modern-day misinformation courier. Between the $787 million settlement in Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit hinging on the content of his and other colleague’s embarrassing text messages, the impending $2 billion civil suit being pursued by Smartmatic, and the civil suit filed by a former Fox News producer that specifically names Carlson, chairman Rupert Murdoch had enough of Carlson, and unexpectedly canned him on Monday, April 24.

Carlson’s text messages which were made public exposed him as a charlatan who’ll take any disingenuous position that would advance his career. As opposed to being a serious member of an adversarial press, Carlson was publicly a Trump lickspittle while privately texting colleagues, “I hate him passionately,” and that “We are very very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights, I truly can’t wait,” only to do a complete 180 on air. Carlson was one of many Fox News entertainers posing as journalists who privately espoused thoughts that ran counter to their public positions.

The final straw may have been texts from Carlson that described a Fox News exec as the other C-word. Carlson’s reputation still hasn’t recovered from Jon Stewart bodying him for pretending to be CNN Crossfire’s Stephen A. Smith nearly two decades ago. Now, Carlson will be relegated to the graveyard of former Fox News hosts Bill O’Reilly, and Glenn Beck. Like most dark spirits, Carlson will rise again on OAN, Blaze, or whichever stupid outlet emerges as the television version of Truth Social.

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Frontrunners and trash talkers who duck the media — and then run off when the chips are down — get no love around here. This could be aimed at the entire core of the Memphis Grizzlies roster, but we’re going to focus on the loudest mouth, yielding the least return for the team. That distinct honor falls upon one Dillon Brooks. His voice is heard the loudest, yet his talent produces the least amongst Grizzlies starters in the first round of the postseason.

“I don’t care. He’s old. … I poke bears. I don’t respect someone until he gives me 40.”

Brooks had much to say about the Lakers and LeBron James, most notably before falling behind 3-1 in their opening-round playoff series. At the time of this writing, Memphis still trailed 3-2 in the series. Like many people in the age of social media, Brooks feels like he can talk crap, and that validates him because he’s playing on the biggest hoops stage in the world.

No one thinks Brooks or the Grizzlies, in general, should fear any player, or team, but when you fix your lips in preparation to go at a guy like LeBron, you’d better be ready to back it up. Not that James is above reproach, but you can’t talk the way Brooks has and perform in the manner he has on the court in this series. If you’re going to run your mouth non-stop, the least you can do is shoot better than 22 percent from three-point range. If Memphis loses this series, it’s time for Brooks to shut the hell up. Nobody wants to hear him, of all people on that team, talk anymore.

All the beef Brooks has been part of this year, from Undisputed host Shannon Sharpe to James himself, and smacking the King in his “Midsection,” which earned him a flagrant two foul, it’s all become silly. And that’s saying a lot based on Brooks’ fashion decisions this season. If you can back up the trash talk, nobody raises an eyebrow. When that’s the best part of your arsenal, and it’s mediocre at best, go sit on the bench, and have a Gatorade. Because at that point, “we don’t believe you; you need more people.”

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You’d think Rudy Gobert would have learned his lesson about boundaries after triggering an entire league shutdown three years ago. And yet, there he was using that extended wingspan to take a jab at teammate Kyle Anderson during the 82nd game on Minnesota’s schedule His tenure in Utah was buffeted by his fractured working relationship with Donovan Mitchell, and his only year in Minnesota has been an unmitigated disaster.

Gobert is held in lower esteem among players than any Defensive Player of the Year the NBA has ever seen. He’s won the award three times and yet, his value in a seven-game series is perpetually debated. Maybe it’s because he’s French, but players feel comfortable belittling him. Before they became teammates, Anthony Edwards said of Gobert, “He don’t put no fear in my heart, I don’t know why.”

In Utah, his personality rubbed teammates the wrong way. Gobert claimed that the catalyst for his Draymond moment was Anderson calling him a “bitch.” Being called out of his name by a reserve nicknamed Slow-Mo was probably the last straw, but getting his revenge during the regular season finale was emblematic of the poor decision-making that he’s become synonymous with.

Teammates fighting behind closed doors happens occasionally, but Gobert throwing haymakers mid-game, in front of company, earned him a one-game suspension, lowered his trade value another tick, and nearly cost Minnesota in the play-in tournament. Minnesota hamstrung its future and linked it to Gobert’s sinking anchor. Not only has he proven to be an albatross, but he’s a chemistry killer.

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A person does not need to be an expert to speak against an objective wrong. There are too many man-made shades of gray in this world. Right is right, and wrong is wrong.

Keith Olbermann was wrong.

He thought Angel Reese was in the wrong for taunting Caitlin Clark as her LSU Tigers defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes for the National Championship. Reese was actually just giving Clark a taste of her own medicine. And even if Clark hadn’t been hitting previous opponents with the “You can’t see me,” children’s eyes would not begin to bleed because Reese decided to rub in the victory.

Who was out of line, though, was Olbermann — for tweeting out that Reese “is a fucking idiot.” Barstool’s Dave Portnoy called her a “classless piece of shit,” and both deserve those vulgar insults thrown back at them. Olbermann later apologized for being “uninformed” that Clark also engages in trash talk, and said that both were wrong. He also said that he doesn’t follow basketball in any way.

If that’s the case, then bro, why you all up in the Kool-Aid and don’t know the flavor? You mozied into the sporting event of the day and were so offended by a competitor reveling in victory while on the field of play, you felt the need to belch out your disgust at a college student.

If Reese had clocked Clark in the head with a chair Balls Mahoney style, that would have deserved to be called out as wrong by anyone regardless of their basketball expertise. Being a hype after knocking off arguably the best player in her sport though, doesn’t deserve anything close to being called a fucking idiot. Even “too much dip on your chip,” is a bit much.

The person that day who deserved to be cursed out was not anywhere near American Airlines Arena in Dallas with the initials KO.

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Phil Jackson had some things to say, and it put him on this list.

“It was trying to cater to an audience or trying to bring a certain audience to the game,” he said about the NBA having Black Lives Matter on the court in the bubble, and how it’s the reason he hasn’t watched the NBA since. “And they didn’t know it was turning other people off. People want to see sports as non-political. Politics stays out of the game; it doesn’t need to be there,” he whined on the Tetragrammaton podcast.

It feels like Jackson wants Black people to be quiet and Black athletes to shut up and dribble, despite the fact that his entire claim to fame as an NBA player and the greatest coach in league history is all due to the talents, and intellect of Black people.

And then some had the audacity to be “shocked” by his words as if he hadn’t been showing us who he was for decades.

“You can’t make this up … The same Phil Jackson that won championships with some of the greatest Black athletes in the history of the game: Michael Jordan. Scottie Pippen. Shaquille O’Neal. Kobe Bryant,” said Jalen Rose. “Made millions on their backs. And off their sweat equity.”

Google will remind you that Jackson speaks his mind.

There was the time that he said that players had “been dressing in prison garb” when the dress code was mandated. Scottie Pippen called him a racist. Isaiah Rider warned people about him. Lebron did, too.

The evidence was always there. Especially when you remember that Jackson is a hypocrite. Check this out from a 2010 story from when J.A. Adande was at ESPN.

“That was surprising to hear coming from a man who not only supported Bill Bradley for the Democratic presidential nomination, he wore a Bradley campaign pin on his suit during games. Jackson reminded me that the NBA made him stop wearing it. And apparently, that was the end of his political proclamations…although he did take one parting shot.

“I kind of wish [Bradley] would have been the president,” Jackson said. “After all was said and done, that [George W. Bush] situation.”

Top 10 sports figures we’d like to celebrate 4/20 with

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There’s something communal about smoking weed. Whether at a bar or house party, one of my favorite parts of any evening of imbibing is sneaking off to an inconspicuous alley and passing around a joint while cracking jokes, coughing, and getting that perfect head rush before re-entering the foray dazed, and red-eyed.

While vape pens have only slightly ruined the smokers’ circle, I expect a resurgence once half of Gen Z cops have throat cancer. Not sure why I shouted at that cloud, but it could be that my head is constantly in the clouds, thus making me prone to distractions, and spats of paranoia.

Oh, now I remember why I mentioned sharing a few trees with my friends — it’s not a token holiday but rather the token holiday, and I thought it’d be a good idea to share the weed head’s equivalent of an ideal dinner party or golf foursome.

However, before I begin, I’m told I need to issue a disclaimer to avoid any legal issues. I have no evidence that anybody on this list smokes weed (and some of the jokes are specifically that these people need a little THC in their life). The names mentioned are purely based on speculation and my lengthy history of getting toasted. Takes one to know one, right?

So, without further claptrap, here are the sports figures I’d like to get high with, or just get high.

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First off, I know this guy doesn’t smoke weed. I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life. If the NFL commissioner dabbled, he’d have a much harder time compartmentalizing all the concussions and overt racism running rampant in the league.

There are two reasons I want to pass Rog a Dutchie. No 1 is I want to see how big his eyes get before he hacks up a cloud of smoke and a lung. There’s nothing funnier than watching a newbie double over, or find a new wrong way to hold a doob.

The second reason is right after he realizes he’s uncomfortably blazed, I want to whisper “Concussions” into his ear and watch him melt with guilt. Ideally, the anguish is enough to get him to release the NFL’s secrets, or at the very least be the impetus he needs to resign.

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I’m a massive Portland hoops fan, so please don’t read this as a lazy shot at the Jail Blazers. I want to spark with more than just Rasheed Wallace and Damon Stoudemire as who wouldn’t want to get high and listen to Bill Walton prattle on about literally anything?

I don’t know about Damian Lillard. If you listen to Ringer podcaster and Bay Area native Logan Murdock talk about the Brookfieldians who attend Blazers-Warriors games, I feel like I’d have a lot of fun at Dame’s annual hometown cookout.

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You might be a little taken aback by this one. Gayle Benson? Isn’t that the old-ass owner of the New Orleans Saints? Hell fucking yeah it is. I’ve been stuck behind enough bluehairs at the dispensary to know that a lot more people are popping edibles than the public thinks.

Gayle is from the Big Easy, and I can say with certainty that she’s come across the drug many times during her life in the city. Who knows if she puffs, but the only way to find out is to offer. Worst case scenario, you hit Bourbon Street with Benson, and throw back enough mango daiquiris to convince yourself that you caught COVID the next morning.

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I gotta say, I’m a little hesitant about stepping into the big leagues with this titan of cannabis. My habit is as debilitating as the next casual consumer, and even I think I’d be out on my feet within the first 15 minutes of chilling with the former running back who is still probably the league’s most infamous pothead.

Shit, Ricky, I came here to relieve a little stress, and maybe taste a couple of your premium strains. I’m not trying to get so fucking high that I adopt my girl’s maiden name. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’d just like to make those kinds of decisions when I can tell if I’m dreaming or not.

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I was listening to the Baseball is Dead podcast the other day, and Dallas said, “Hit a dinger, rip the binger,” which immediately ingratiated him to my circle of friends that refer to bongs as bingers. Frankly, I think it’s funny/shameful that the NBA is labeled as the marijuana sports league.

Some of the biggest stoners I know are baseball players (pitchers specifically), which makes sense considering how much downtime there is in the clubhouse. There are fewer better ways to fill an off day than inhaling enough smoke to kill Tom Verducci. Weed also is the only realistic explanation for the Houston Astros thinking that no one is going to catch onto their garbage relay system.

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I’m torn here because only a substantially stoned person invents WAR, but you have to be dead sober to understand it.

“How about, and hear me out, we create a nameless average player, and then weigh guys’ stats against him?”

I know my mind would’ve been blown because when I read pieces laden with contextless stats it feels like all that’s up there are splotches of brain tissue splattered against the walls of my skull. Non-stoned people are the only ones capable of deciphering complicated numbers, and even then, it’s not a certainty.

More than anything, I want to go to the Sloan Sports Conference, dose every coffee, and water bottle in Salt Lake City with 50 grams of THC, and watch as the nerds’ eyes gloss over 30 seconds into Daryl Morey’s keynote speech.

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Put me on the parade party bus right fucking now. I know a bunch of pearl-clutchers were ashamed of the performance that Kansas City players put on during their second Super Bowl parade, and all I have to say to that is, thank god they weren’t privy to the goings-on inside the vehicles.

Mahomes is a former pitcher, Kelce smiles too much not to be stoned, and there’s a level of creativity in Andy Reid’s playbook that tells me he’s got a little something extra motivating his appetite. How else can you explain the ring-around-the-Rosie huddle trick play if not an abundance of tinctures and shatter?

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Perhaps if we partner Richardson with a white woman, the narrative will change on who can and cannot smoke weed, and still be accepted. When Rapinoe was lauding the benefits of CBD, Sha’Carri was being held out of the Olympics because of a failed drug test.

If anything, I’m more impressed that Richardson was able to get this much out of her potential while also smoking weed. Give me three hits, and I can barely find the will to do 30 minutes of cardio.

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My only concern about sharing a circle with these two is that the topic of conversation could get too deep, and there’s nothing worse than the weed head who wants to chat about euthanasia or youth in Asia. I’ll sully my high with my own thoughts of global collapse and pandemics, thank you very much.

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Just once I’d like for Stephen A. Smith to feel what it’s like to be screamed at first thing in the morning. It’s jarring when you haven’t had a cup of coffee, much less a bong bowl. Can you please just chill?

The whole cast is way too aggro — like my parent’s dog during a thunderstorm — and needs a THC chew or two to calm down. Woo-sah, Stephen A., woo-sah. Have you heard him when he’s broadcasting from his house? It’s a drastically toned version, and one better suited for 6 a.m.

Something similar happens with JJ Redick as his podcasts are decidedly less abrasive than his appearances on ESPN’s morning show. It could be the glass of cab-sauv, or a special brownie offscreen. Whatever it is, Redick is a lot more palatable when he’s not in full makeup and screaming at Kendrick Perkins.

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Things Bill Simmons did in Boston before moving to LA: Bartend, smoke weed, play video games, write columns, go to the movie theater alone, and argue with his editors about creative freedom. Sub “deliver food” in for “bartend” and that sounds like my college-aged self, and someone who is most definitely a fun hang.

This current iteration of BS — father, boss, aggregator hater, podcaster — seems like he needs to reintroduce a little weed into his system. Gone are the 30,000-word diatribes about the Ewing Theory, and in return we get smart guy Tuesdays where the Podfather brings on tech bros to have galaxy-brained conversations with a considerably less open mind.

If I wanted to hear nonsensical drivel leak out of a self-important jackass, I’d subscribe to Joe Rogan’s podcast.