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Could China Cancel the NBA? Plus, Fox’s ‘Smackdown’ | The Bill Simmons Podcast

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all right we are taping this it’s a little bit after one o’clock Pacific time four o’clock Eastern Time on a Tuesday so if stuff changes at all over these next few hours our apology we’re gonna get this podcast up as fast as possible today Jason gave from The Wall Street Journal is on the line I think the most fascinating NBA stories since the entire Donald sterling saga is happening right now it’s in motion it’s going to change they are playing two preseason games there tonight it is an international incident all started by Rockets GM Daryl Morey it’s extremely complicated and has a lot of sides to it and unfortunately Jason we live in a world down in 2019 where everything has to be black and white on Twitter and you’re either on one side of the other and you have to say this or that and there’s no nuance and in my opinion this is a story that has a lot of nuance and is really complicated and for people who really like us to weigh in correctly you have to do a lot of research what was your first reaction as this was unfolding I did not have daryl morey accidentally stumbling into a massive geopolitical crisis in my NBA preseason action meaning I mean I just think it’s a remarkable story from so many angles I mean you have a league here you know this is the NBA the league that can do no wrong it’s now being you know bashed on the Left bashed on the right it’s like it’s the NFL all of a sudden and and you have Adam Silver who’s you know barely had a drop of bad press in five years as commissioner he’s at the center of the biggest storm and and I think this is much bigger than sterling in some ways sterling was a simple situation yeah I think it’s got pieces of different stuff I mean I was in the vortex of this a little bit once upon a time when the thing that the podcast I did that was so critical of Goodell blew up and became a national story that story wasn’t no one one-hundredth as big as this story that story was an American story that became a thing I got thrown into the hole whatever the the national news cycle for day and a half and then he gets to spit out and you get replaced by the next thing this is feels like it’s gonna get bigger this involves probably the two most powerful countries we have this could have so many different ramifications not including like kind of not that important but secretly important stuff like it could change the NBA salary cap they could change it really could it could change it boosts our cap yeah it can completely shut down the NBA in China in a way that I don’t think anybody fully realizes like sure China could decide tomorrow we’ve canceled the NBA the NBA is no longer going to be shown in China we will not have deals with the NBA we will not have deals with its players the league’s has ceased to exist in this country this is actually in play what do you think the odds of that actually happening are ah you know the other element of it not to shift the focus here but but it what kind of leverage does the NBA have you know this is something that people are asking now does the NBA have leverage in this narrow typically what we’ve seen in these kinds of disputes is the corporation that has offended China has immediately apologized and tried to move on the NBA hasn’t explicitly apologized here and you know my colleague Ben Cohen and James already who’s in Shanghai wrote this piece about how you know look as valuable on market as China is to the NBA the NBA is also an incredibly valuable entertainment resource for China and you know they are their own thing you know the NBA is sweet generous no one else has LeBron and Harden and Zion and you know they have some cards to play here so yes China can pull the plug on everything and they’ve already pulled the plug on I think there was a nets event that was supposed to happen today the Lakers are coming tonight and they have an event tomorrow and they could pull the plug on the exhibition game itself but I think that the NBA is aware of the fact that they also have some power here and I’m curious to see how much they push back even if it means pulling up stakes well alright so now it’s 111 Pacific time I really want to make this clear we don’t we all this is going to fold over the next hours but I think there’s a real chance that these two games get cancelled yeah and the NBA hightails it out of there today yeah because here’s what here’s what is in play potentially protesters and protesters in a foreign country that has occasionally proven that it can be pretty dangerous where you would have protesters outside the hotels and you would have protesters outside the stadiums and there is no guarantee that at some point that might not become a little bit unsafe and if I was the NBA I would get the eff out right now just fly back let it see if it blows over or not but I think it’s I think it’s risky to play the games there and you know for I really read I tried to read a lot about this story the last two days I didn’t really know what was going on Hong Kong I had a cursory understanding of it this story is so complicated and nuanced and goes in so many different different directions and it starts with somebody who committed murder in Taiwan and fled to Hong Kong and opened up this whole extradition thing and China becoming involved and if you go back further like they had the great handover in 1997 where I was handed over from the British and it’s supposed to operate as its own country and I think you know it was interesting to see Joe size is the Brooklyn owner he had that whole statement and he was talking about how the hapa an issue for the Chinese here is that they’re worried that there’s a separatist kind of element to this that there’s a path here that’s been kind of brewing for the last you know six to nine months that could lead to Hong Kong this is what China thinks potentially trying to become its own country and that’s what China doesn’t want it feels like it’s their territory much like this is a terrible analogy but you know if Hawaii was trying to say hey actually we want to be our own country screw you guys not that there’s so many different problems with that analogy but it’s just to try to understand from an American standpoint China does not want this in China as we know can be ruthless and brutal in a lot of different ways which is what’s been simmering this whole time with this and that’s where it gets complicated Jason is that we are now tapping into hundreds thousands of years of Chinese history and just a lot of stuff that Daryl Morey waded into with one tweet yeah but I don’t see it as that complicated you know and the analogy that you draw I mean yeah there are a lot of things that are problematic about the fact that you know we’re not an authoritarian state you know thank God but not yet but you know I I think this really goes back to the idea of you know how much is the NBA willing to stand behind the idea of free speech and individual liberty of expression and this is something that is not for the NBA just some sort of slogan it is their fundamental ethos and silver in the last couple of days you know I think that initial statement satisfied nobody and then he gave a clarifying interview and that kind of satisfied nobody and then he came out with his own statement which came out today and I’m we’re muddying up the timeline because you know there are hours ahead many hours ahead but you know any time you’re issuing a statement and doing a revised statement you know there’s some public relations bungling that’s happening but I think it’s very clear that the NBA feels caught in between an idea of themselves and what practically they have to do in this relationship with China and that is the trade off that you do when you have business with this country yeah and I don’t know if you’re going to have you know some sort of like protests in Shanghai I mean the jump was in Shanghai today with the nets and things seemed a little calm there I think things are rather quiet at the moment but the Lakers get in and silver gets in and you know who knows where it goes from there and for the NBA the WWE talked about this a little on Sundays but the WWE was a very similar situation with lower stakes in Saudi Arabia where they had committed to do all these events there and then the journalists got murdered and or we found out how he got murdered and there was a lot of push for them to pull out of these events and there were even some WWE performers could want to be involved you’re like I’m out you’re not I’m not going there in the WWII think everybody kind of thought oh well they’ll pull out this is wrong and then they stayed and you know they actually they’ve had to pay-per-views there and they justified it as the following they didn’t justify it they just plowed ahead and did it in the cash the checks and I think everybody has a price at some point I think the EMBA thing is so different than the WWE for 90 different reasons but financially the stakes are staggering I mean you’re talking just what what 10 cent pays for for the rights just to show the games sure effects affects the bottom line and that’s probably I would say let’s say they it’s 500 million I think the players get half of that the owner split the other side so that’s almost you know 8 million a team that allows the cap to go up right and uh you know so if if $0.10 was like we’re done in $0.10 basically like kind of Amazon asked over there um that what that’s just a lot of money to pass up and these guys are all greedy billionaires as we know sure and and what’s also unique about this situation is that you have a circumstance where not just the basketball itself but the league’s chief sponsors and partners and media outlets are all in business with China as well this is not some sort of thing where it’s just the NBA going at it alone this is all integrated into television contracts the other the games you know show ESPN coverage in China and how that old relationship works the apparel companies Nike and Adidas enormous investment in China for many many years and and this is not unfamiliar turf to NBA superstars I mean it has now become sort of part of the NBA superstar summer now to do a tour of Asia and especially to hit China and you know we haven’t even touched on one of the other elements of this is that how surreal it is for the Rockets to kind of be the genesis of this crisis because it is the Rockets with Yao Ming who cried just took the NBA and China to a whole different level and here’s yeah Ming I mean himself are talking today’s hangout Ming is really bad really hot right now I mean there’s just remarkable dynamics here playing out in real time yeah the two official I would say NBA teams in China would be the Rockets and now the nets because of Jos I was Taiwanese but still the biggest carrot it seems like they had to dangle to Kyrie and KD when they’re trying to lure them other than that we’re not the next and we’re not owned by James Dolan because that was that you know this this is gonna open up doors for you in China you just have no idea just trust us you come in here the relationships we have there’s so much money over there all of its legal from a salary cap standpoint you know taking whatever marketing deals they get from China that doesn’t count against seller cap and you have these two characters involved daryl morey who was with the out for most of his career who knows firsthand how important the chinese businesses for the rockets and yeah being the most famous chinese partner we’ve ever had the NBA who is now a real figure there and then josiah the first kind of Taiwanese American owner we’ve ever had but the first owner with any real connections to that side of the of the world and who was gonna be this really really crucial important owner going forward for the league this guy one of the reasons they really wanted to buy the team is he was opening up all these avenues for them in the Far East sure I mean look at the fact that they’re actually having this exhibition this exhibition was scheduled many many many many months if not years ago and there involves like three super marquee NBA team sorry coming over there before you know there two are playing in Japan but the Lakers and the nets are two very exciting 2019 2020 teams they’re there for a reason they consider this to be an extremely important launch pad for an NBA season so this is nothing new I mean this has gone back you know decades now their interest in expansion there and as you said the implications now are you know beyond simply you know what happens in the next couple of days because yes if there were some sort of you know investment from China it does have economic implications for the league going forward well and I think going back to what we were talking about earlier the dynamics of you know what’s happening in Hong Kong and the extradition bill and all that stuff I think there’s I think it’s hard for us to realize how people in China are receiving this story on a couple different levels one they’re only getting certain information about the story right they’re only getting the information that is being given to them they also see this a little differently you know I had some I had asked on Sunday’s podcast that I was like this story’s really confusing I want to spend some time researching and heard from a lot of different people and some smart people and some readers and some people in my life and things like that and I think one of the key points here is that however this extradition thing plays out the fear is that this would lead to Hong Kong seceding from China which is a real thing to people in China whereas we see it as like pro-democracy because that’s how we see things because we live here they see it as something different and they see something like what Darrell did and him not apologizing as like an affront especially if it’s being fed to them a certain way if you have to remember it’s going through this whole kind of juice blender of information that’s going from however are the whole Chinese media operations and even the government down to the people and they’re seeing this and there’s and they’re basically saying why is this guy from our favorite NBA team waiting into this who asked you for your opinion why well why are we hearing from you why are you making this worse that you could this is like pouring gasoline on a fire and I think that’s a big part of this and I think that’s why the NBA they’ve been very careful what they said publicly about their oh but I think privately they’re absolutely out of their mind furious about this because it was comes down to like it’s one tweet yeah you know is it worth it I’ve been in that situation a few times you’re in that situation we every time we tweet it could be the end of our careers in a lot of different ways this is way worse than that because this actually started international incident I mean do you think in the moment he was aware of the potential implications here or do you think it was just kind of a toss away tweet I think he knew the backstory but I also think we’ve created this climb and this goes back to the point you were making about the NBA where the NBA is the woek league the NBA is the league that does tweets like this and you see the positive affirmation that people like Popovich and Steve Kerr have gotten from waiting into different political arguments and trying to stand for things that I think you and I stand for in a lot of cases and they’ve gotten praise and it’s become a big part of their identity and people really respect them for having the quote-unquote courage to stand up for stuff that they believe in this is a whole other animal because if you’re wading into this and you’re anti China which is how his tweet was perceived you know there’s there’s real fallout not just for the leap but maybe for somebody personally you know maybe the the social media there’s bots that can get unleashed on you and all that stuff and it’s just a different level of uh you know I think there’s a fear factor with this and and to go back to something you said at the top about just you know this story having you know levels of nuance to it you know I don’t think there is many nuances perhaps as the NBA you know has put out there but I think that the environment that we are in now lends itself to sort of stark declarations one way or the other right yeah and so when the league is out there with these statements that are you know kind of having it both ways neutralism where you’re defending the league’s tradition of free speech while also acknowledging you know China’s offense here you know that kind of language that kind of hedging doesn’t really play anymore you know it’s not the kind of language that speaks or connects with people or satisfies you know people anymore so you know that’s why I think this story continues to have legs and you know the other part of that which is kind of amazing is that this all happened before the NBA got there it was like they set up the circus before the circus even showed up right you know like Maury you know the Lakers and the nets weren’t even in China and our and this thing already went you know sideways and the fact that they’re now coming or gonna play this game theoretically on Thursday is just too much I mean that this is just gonna keep oh there’s two amazing coincidences to this actually two and a half if you count the fact that Daryl actually wasn’t in China when he did this he was in Japan mm-hmm but the first one is that South Park just did an episode last week that completely skewered China and was delightful and really funny and now it’s actually playing out in real life South Park this has happened before over the years with South Park where they’ve been weirdly pressing it with some sort of issue that was boiling and then would bubble up and be like oh my god the South Park guys just did that but they literally just did this so that was weird and then just the timing of not just the NBA going there right before you know right after this tweet and this became a whole firestorm but you know the fact that like ESPN’s there to yeah and this was this big MBA in ESPN embracing our Chinese brethren and all the all the fans the 1.5 billion dollar fans whatever the number is and this was gonna be this awesome kind of victory tour for like wow we’re really growing our game here this is our second most important market basically other than America and then it just flips and now it’s silver who can’t avoid the microphones it’s not like he can’t talk about this he they have scheduled press conferences already that he has to do yep and now this is what we’re talking about we did take a break I have a follow-up thought on that but hold on one second coming back on un’ solar and and you know this blowing up and I know they would a hundred times out of 100 shoes not to have this it is funny though this was a stern tradition for David Stern back in the day where there would always be some sort of either not scandal but kind of moment events controversy within two three weeks before the season started to kind of drum up interest in the season and I always felt like it was manufactured by him where it’d be like two weeks before he’d be like hey I’ve decided to change the rules for how people dress on the bench if they’re not playing a people be like what and then we would talk about it for ten days and think he’s lost his mind and it was clearly strategic this has to be like his wet dream for some sort of before the season controversy he’s somewhere or the smoking jacket gonna oh yeah this is great come on ratings here we go I don’t know I mean I just shot it stirred people are talking about this and you know arenas that they’re not typically talking about it you know they’re doing it on CNBC true talking about it you know on Wall Street but I feel like this is a nightmare because this is not what they envision as you said this was supposed to be this sort of very you know pleasant unveiling of the new Lakers and the new Nets in this thriving new market where we have new ownership this was just going to be you know a very sort of well choreographed happy moment for the league and it’s now anything but but I do think it’s a very instructive story I don’t think this is the kind of thing I mean we know you know NBA media and NBA fan demand nowadays is so obsessive and like I do feel it’s weird to like maybe have like you know 17 takes on the Sacramento Kings backcourt but no take on this I think that like it’s worth you know spending a little time and looking at it and you’re gonna learn a lot about this league and you’re gonna learn a lot especially about Adam Silver through following this topic for the next few weeks well I was surprised and this is more reflection on how awful social media is in 2019 Steve Carr was trending this morning because he didn’t have a take yet and people were people were mad at him that he was looking at the situation and going this is actually really complicated I want to learn more about it before I say how I feel and the reaction online was basically fuck you that’s no no you’re the woke guy you you’ve you’ve waited him before you have to have an opinion now how dare you had how dare you want more time to study a topic and research it talk to people about it that’s unacceptable that was basically the reaction today online from human beings yeah yeah I get it though I mean listen it’s hard to not like notice how Steve Kerr has been a you know kind of at the forefront of a lot of social issues and unafraid to speak his mind about things that are happening United States and then to sort of make the reference to his brother being a did he see his brothers a Chinese Chinese fresher Chinese Studies yeah right so like you know and to kind of you know kick the can down the road when people are asking for a comment on that cuz he’s shown himself to be you know a citizen of the world Steve Kerr and for him to sort of not want to address this I can I get why that’s a tasty snack for anybody who wants to take a swing at the NBA I get that entirely well they should probably mention that Steve Kerr’s father was killed by the PLO and maybe he’s he’s gonna take his time before he wades into potential really serious international incident I have eight lessons from this incident or not this incident what do we call this controversy yeah evolving contra evolving controversy in flux my first lesson is just don’t tweet I think all of us should just stop tweeting is that realistic what if we just stop tweeting I you know I think that’s been great advice for the last ten years I you know waiting for someone to take it you know what I love is we’ve seen a lot of high-profile people theatrically quit Twitter and then sort of like gradually walk back on to it so yeah you know I miss it they behave the same way people miss heroin but think Twitter must be worse than Aaron Twitter is basically if you made a pro/con list of the pros and the cons the pros would be like the ability to promote myself and then the cons would be like seven pages long just going on and on no no it would no upside but you know I thought it was funny that Steve Kerr not just even doing a tweet much less talking in a press conference extemporaneously about something he clearly didn’t know enough about was was just a cause for people to come at him which makes me think like alright so I didn’t tweet about it am i ducking the controversy I talked about it on Sunday night now we’re talking about it now but on Sunday I’ve made it very clear like I don’t know enough about this I don’t even understand what’s happening yeah do we have a responsibility all of us to at least try to learn about a story before we wade into something that’s this important yeah look I mean like this is how the lines have moved right I mean you and I are close to the same age I know you’re 50 something now but no I’m 50 don’t give me this something how dare you but you know I remember when I can’t remember who it was but the first person I saw who had a.com address with their name in it and it was like you know Joe Schmo dot-com and it had all their stories on it I was like man that is some crazy egomaniacal nuttiness I can’t believe like someone would dedicate an entire website to posting their stories and then came the wave of people kind of emailing around their stories saying like here’s my story you should click on it if you want to read what I have to say and also thinking that was crazy and when Twitter first happened there was this a mission initial wave of like why should anyone care about what I think you know 24 hours a day or what I feel about things that have nothing to do it my area of expertise but now that’s coming completely normalized and it feels like there’s that kind of this cultural pressure especially if you’re in you know journalism or something to pop in on topics where you have no expertise or where you don’t even like you know there’s no appetite for your opinion i I just think that it’s a funny thing where we’ve just kind of normalized that behavior now and it’s not the kind of thing we look at us being strange anymore yeah like if I waded into Kyle’s office this morning and I was like what’s your MBA trying to take I need it right now and he’s like what I was like I want to take down I wanna I want a short take from you now right and then he stumbled and gave a take and I was like that was a bad take and I walked out that’s basically what Twitter’s become yeah or just like kind of wandering it that’s like somebody you know it’s like more like wandering into a room full of strangers and saying this is what I think about the dolphins front office you know like it’s just on all variety of topics like we could agree check China you know I think we’re all a little afraid of the potential of China in any situation like this given previous behavior I also know that I’m afraid to even talk about it you know and I think when I think about these not just Adam silver but you think about guys like LeBron yeah and Kevin Durant and I’m trying to think of what other guys have really kind of dove into this stuff where they’ve talked about like you know some of the stuff Trump’s done and etc etc they go in the shop they talk about you know how the NCAA needs to play its players it’s all stuff that is kind of gone through a cleanser it’s okay there’s the repercussions are never gonna be that bad mm-hmm you know which which makes it okay and you dive in you seem like you’re or whatever but this is one of those where like if LeBron came out and really gave some thoughtful thing about how he feels like China is completely in the wrong with how they’re handling the Hong Kong protesters and he’d spent the last two days reading about it and he actually thinks the protesters are saying and doing all the right things maybe they’ve gone a little bit overboard but he fundamentally believes in what they’re doing and he thinks China needs to let up and get rid of these law at this law people would have a fucking heart attack no I agree and that’s gonna be fascinating to watch I mean this is a guy who’s you know been willing to put himself forward on a variety of social issues and we saw it just last week he’s like you know sitting next to Gavin Newsom who’s signing legislation about the fair pay-to-play Act you know he is doing his thing and if he gets there yet and and waited by the way he’s he’s not he’s he’s not going near this and I don’t I don’t think any of these players should do you think zero chance I think so and that unless it gets worse or something happens mm-hmm I I just don’t see the upside and honestly I don’t know if I care about LeBrons LeBron Jameses take on this story do you like are you sitting around gone man or some cameras I’m curious to see are you curious because he’s a public figure or you’re curious of him as one of the premier thinkers you know and he’s going to bring some insight to this situation that you haven’t thought of yet I’m curious from this perspective this is a guy who’s kind of stripped away the idea that you know superstar athletes are supposed to be sort of opinion less valueless people you know and he has been willing to sort of get out there and put his voice out there and sort of take the heat when the heat was coming and don’t forget you know well there was him or curry these guys have tentacles with the president United States which is no small thing and and so yeah that was grilling to weigh into this kind of stuff III want to hear it so when he went after Trump that time during the whole Kaepernick thing I thought that was one of the coolest things any athletes done where he was just like fuck it I’m going for it and it was really unusual because you know I think we’d seen obviously the guys from the 60s are in a whole other level of how great they were with some of this stuff Ali and Russell and Jim Brown and all those people and what we had seen this decade was people kind of pretending they stood for stuff but not really and culminating in the Clippers instead of just boycott in that Warriors playoff game throwing their warm-up jackets at midcourt which I still could see as the years pass I think it’s lamer and lamer as we really look at that LeBron seemed like the one person who’s like fucking I’m gonna if I feel strongly about something David Trayvon Martin he did it with Trump a few times if you feel strongly about something heat you were gonna hear from him I guess my question with this is you know when Josiah says it’s definitely a third rail issue for Chinese people on the mainland now he took some liberties and that he talked about like this is made it seem like Hong Kong was trying to separate which is not true but when he says it’s a third rail issue for Chinese people if I if I’m an NBA star and I hear that I’m I’m going okay good to know sure unquestionably and I think that you know LeBron has heard certain things our third rail issues in the past I mean he’s been somebody who’s been willing to get out there and talk about third-rail issues and I understand the distinction you’re trying to draw between what’s happening in China where there’s this enormous sort of economic investment which directly impact the league and someone also a history a history that he’s none of us are familiar with we’re not from there you know I had a friend of mine told me that his parents were from China mm-hmm his entire life they never had a Japanese product in their house mm-hmm and it’s like well that’s something you and I cannot understand we don’t understand the legacy and the scars of certain things and I think for LeBron to jump off the top rope with some you know whatever I don’t know if that’s a great idea yeah but I think that like into allude to the piece that Brian Phillips did for you guys which I thought was really good yeah like there is you know this can be distilled into a rather simple thing which is that this is about expression and LeBron can sort of speak broadly to that idea the idea of sort of commenting and being able to comment with Liberty on things because that is what he’s tried to do I mean we’ve seen time and time again in the last number of years that LeBron has kind of made it safe for athletes to come out and speak on social issues and he’s been sort of a vanguard of that and not just in the NBA across all major sports I think people look to him that way and and and on that front like that’s a change and that is something that you know leagues and sponsors and so on are trying to get comfortable with it not everybody is comfortable with that believe me well and that leads to another lesson from this is everyone was way too slow to react Darryl should have whatever he was gonna say it should have been sooner because the longer you delete a tweet and then nothing happens and then your owner throws you under the bus without I mean I think Tommen like shooting him out of a cannon was a big like part of all of this but at that point this is now on fast-forward and you have to move and if you’ve read anything about a crisis situation or any PR situation like this move is is the lesson yeah and nobody moved and by the time he finally gave his statement it was clear he didn’t really want to apologize if you read between the lines of what he said it’s not an apology Josiah caught in an apology in his thing that he wrote yeah Darrell didn’t apologize yeah he said he regretted that it led to a couple outcomes that maybe he didn’t anticipate but he didn’t apologize for what he said and then you have the NBA which is what Brian wrote about yesterday and you wrote about it too for The Wall Street Journal the NBA was just kind of flaccid coming out of the gates and finally Adam sober today was a lot more forthcoming about like look we we support our players right for free speech he said that on a Tuesday this whole thing was unfolding on a Friday and a Saturday that was 72 hours late in my opinion yeah and how unusual also to have you know we talked about a minute ago but just a circumstance where you have the controversy as kind of the appetizer to the arrival I mean Adam Silver’s going to China yeah I mean that is you know another part of what makes this story wild but I feel like with the language and you know the NBA too is pushed back on the notion that it is apologized there was that you know brief belief that like their Chinese statement was more forthcoming or more apologetic than the English statement that’s something that the NBA has denied they’ve pushed back on the notion that they have you know apologized on Maura’s behalf but yeah they are trying to sort of work this you know middle rail here of you know not apologizing but acknowledging you know China’s dissatisfaction or you know extreme discomfort with this one other lesson from this I wasn’t sure there was a story anymore that could bring all the different types of people who seem to be outraged about this on one side where you had Elizabeth Warren Ted Cruz a door work yeah all lined yeah outrage Christmas yeah it really was it was like it was an outrage free-for-all it was like one of those where everybody gets into the bar free and there’s no cover charge and you just get to drink at the outrage bar together like hey Elizabeth Warren haven’t seen while and it was really crazy I don’t really remember another story like that we might never see another story like that considering how house split everybody is these days here yeah I mean listen you know I get it but where I sort of get off the bus is when people have been using this story that’s kind of a stalking horse to attack you know progressive politics take on progressive politics you know I could understand why people’s eyebrows are raised that Steve Kerr’s not answer on it but but I don’t think it’s correct to sort of throw out what NBA players have been saying and doing on social issue for the past bunch of years because that’s real that’s real stuff and has real implications and as much as people want to sort of characterize it as some sort of business pose I don’t think it entirely is at all I liked when some of the politicians who have supported some of the terrible tactics we’ve done in this country are now waiting in playing the moral high horse on stuff China’s doing it’s like we’re we have people in cages right now I don’t you know we we have school school shootings and shootings at Walmart’s and shootings basically and there was a bar in Kansas City there how many shootings are we up to this year and those people are taking money from from gun control I mean the hypocrisy was kind of suffocating I gotta say the last few days no and it’s a real like high horse rodeo right rodeo you know just coming in and and and I think this is another part we surged spoke about how like you know the rules have changed with regards to public comment and Twitter and you know how the boundaries of I mean I think that now it used to be you could say something and people will say well that’s sort of factually wrong and you know here’s why and you’d sort of correct the record now I just think that people try to be you know to quote the cliche you know the loud voice in the room and just try to say the loudest thing and the thing that sticks you know the most clearly and try to win the minute and I don’t think it lends itself to any sort of nuanced conversation well you know who else didn’t win is ESPN and we’re going to talk about them right after this break okay this is another lesson from this controversy remember Forrest Gump when he’s running from the kids and then he turns into an adult and he’s still running full speed as fast as possible down the dirt road I know where this is going that was ESPN molester days and now it was complicated because for two reasons one the NBA is one of their biggest business partners – they’re going to China like they have a bunch of high-ranking executives there right now because they have the games they have the jump they’re all that stuff and then three we’re in this new era of ESPN where they don’t want any part of this and it’s not just this they don’t want a part of anything they just want to show us games and the silence is maybe that’s the right word or quietness eerie quiet from our favorite ESPN personalities and NBA reporters who were clearly told not to go anywhere near this story was pretty damning because this was the biggest NBA story in five years mm-hmm what was your take on that I mean so you think there was a very clear directive to not touch this yeah to talent I am not reporting that I am just a smart person who worked there for fourteen and a half years reading the tea leaves of dead silence and the biggest story in five years yeah and that they’re using wire service reports and nobody like think about if this was any other type of NBA story you would have the low street like sources close to Daryl Morey says baa-baa we’ve had none of that no nothing zero sure I mean and that’s also you know candidly a function of like comfort level you know was knows the landscape of trades and the rosters and so on like that and I don’t know if he’s willing to wade into this particular subject we still he’s information though sure and I think that like there was a wave of ESPN coverage of this when it initially broke out about you know whether it was Joe sighs involvement or what Adam silver was trying to do you know with regard to repairing this but I do feel like you know there’s it’s inter I watched the first half-hour the jump today so if they did anything in the back half hour you know they began with the in the wizards you know Marcus Morris like bouncing the basketball I was the lead story that was the lead story but they cut they cut very quickly to Rachel Nichols who is in in in Shanghai and and she did talk about the situation she spoke very directly about it and you know it wasn’t completely measured I mean she did call this a PR disaster and she did have a bit of news about the fact that this game on Thursday might not happen which would be a huge deal they she and Richard Jefferson went to the Nets the nets are in their hotel she had DeAndre Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie sorry to spoil the jump for people who are watching yeah yeah that’s boiler alert but so they’re there they’re getting in there you know they’re getting in there I don’t know but maybe lead the show with that I don’t know yeah I mean question no I mean I but I’d also like they didn’t like I mean it’s structured as a debate show and they did not like kick that clear fuel and in their defense the Marcus Morris touching a Wizards player on the head with the basketball was a massive international story but I don’t know I just thought the China story would have been bigger but III will say that I am optimistic and hopeful i mean i think rachel is you know she’s fundamentally a reporter she began as a print reporter she’s probably chomping at the bit to go on a story like what she meant after Goodell and that was I mean not as dangerous as this story but she was one of those ones throwing darts at him more so than anybody else she turned you know Goodell into a puddle and you know so if you’re a reporter like she is this is great stuff this story has a little bit of everything and I’m sure that she’s like chomping at the bit to go at it well hold on do we honestly think they’re gonna unleash their people on this because I I would say this is a new era for that company where they would probably run from this well this is the problem though because what happened you know what the conversation was I guess you know I can’t remember when the last time this sort of like intersection of sports and politics and we’re not opposed and Levitt art that’s right the Leba tarde thing so that wasn’t the sort of parsing that happened then was you know we don’t want people to go free-range here and just talk about politics but when politics intersects with sport that’s great this is the definition of politics intersecting with sport this is not just politics intersecting with sport this is politics intersecting with the sport that ESPN has decided is the most important sport it covers it’s deeply embedded with the league it has a huge relationship with this sport they’ve put a daily programme together to do it I’m hoping that they tackle it because they have some awfully talented people to do it but yeah this is sort of gonna call the bluff on whether or not they truly believe that that’s something that’s in their coverage though I’m gonna say it’s not I also think this it’s not just politics intersecting with sports it’s politics intersecting with the salary cap this is a whole other level of politics this actually might cause the salary cap to go down by like eight million dollars so just to explain that to somebody who doesn’t understand the self we talked about it earlier like based on revenue that they bring in so five hundred billion dollars from China the salary cap goes down do you think Darrell’s playing long ball here and this is somehow this is gonna help the Rockets I’ve it’s tough because I have some friends of them and uh you know I think he’s in a tough spot where now if he was gonna get fired and I think he was probably way closer to getting fired last week and then people realize they can’t do that now because if you’re automa and frittata for Tina for Tita Tillman Fertitta I would say frittata like he’s a breakfast sandwich Tolman Fertitta yeah whoo if you go back into his history and some of his shut up and what’s the name of the book well his books called shut up and listen which is that immediately you sound like somebody who might not want to be somebody people want to work for hey I got you an autographed copy of shut up and listen um can you be it at 9:00 tomorrow but he’s also you know he’s kind of a little Dolan II he just is and he’s he’s kind of a mix of all these different blowhard owners we’ve seen in the NBA and NFL these rich self-made billionaires who are coming in hot you can guess where they lean politically and he can a lot of different stuff and I don’t think he wants to be known as the guy who fired his GM and didn’t stand up for him because that goes on your legacy these guys ultimately care about what other people think of them that’s going to govern their decisions Alton you you know I’m sure we’re having different conversations that I was having over the weekend I never thought for one second that it was viable to fire Maury I just didn’t think that that was a possibility I know there are people out there who thought that and I think there was a report that it was under consideration I just didn’t think it made any sense whatsoever for the Rockets for the league for anybody involved it just it was in the worst possible message but I mean how fascinating I feel like you know Maury in and of himself is like a whole other sort of wrinkle to this story because this is a person who you know I mean he’s probably the most intriguing person who could be at the center of this this is a guy whose reputation as an innovator as a heretic you know somebody who’s reinvasion a not just basketball but the whole way the NBA is built structured played on court you know this is a guy who’s challenging every sort of mode of thinking about the sport and for him to be the person at the middle of this is like I mean it’s it’s real I think this is like you know watching like harden give the comment the other day and I felt terrible for him having to get out there and you know say we apologize which was you know just not I mean it feels like a Mike Nichols movie it was a hostage video yeah it was just brutal but I mean the whole thing like when you consider the elements of this and the the power especially and the characters in it I mean it’s almost cinematic and it’s only gonna get whacked in the next you know 24 hours and it’s the perfect kind of exclamation point to this goofy decade we’ve had of player empowerment and guys continuing you know what magic and MJ started in the 80s and Shaq continued in 90s then LeBron and everybody in the 2000s where it’s brand first then team and the brand actually becomes the team and guys just go from city to city and it doesn’t even really matter what team there aren’t anymore their brand supersedes the uniforms which is really a unique situation not just for the NBA but I think for any but ultimately when you have a brand you start making decisions on how to protect that brand first sure and that’s just not athletes that’s everybody that could be writers we’ve seen it all over the place all this decade and a lot of it is through Twitter Instagram in facebook and little interviews so you see that James Harden little thing that he did I would love to know the background that led to that of him being like no no Darrell’s a good guy I got his back and then his business manager being like James this will be this will cost you about 40 million here if you don’t say something it’s like okay can you find my camera so I’ve talked about my friends in China for one second I don’t know who this Darrell is Darrell who is that that tall guy who rents our team I do think your point about how Darrell is kind of the greatest guy to be in this situation I mean I feel bad for him obviously but he is the one NBA GM who doesn’t necessarily need to work in the NBA that’s true he’s somebody that could really do 90 different jobs he could work for hedge funds he could work for an entertainment company he worked for a baseball team a football team he needs the NBA less than anybody who has ever been in this spot as an executive sure and also he’s the kind of person who has blossomed in this next wave of the NBA in the NBA if it is this sort of marketplace of expression he’s benefiting from it as much as anybody else because people like him who may not have been listened to a generation ago are now much more valued and certainly appreciated by the media and so on a couple more lessons quickly we I asked earlier and I think it’s worth even talking about for a minute like the howard unfold of China who has certainly done irrational things and crazy things in the past if they just canceled the NBA and they were like we’re done that’s it what that means and also what that would mean to the people there who really love the NBA and could that cause potential unrest there and all that stuff I don’t think it’ll play out that way but you know let’s say $0.10 says we’re not showing the first month of the season how does that play out I’m not even talking from an American business standpoint I’m just talking about how does that play in that country where they love basketball right no and this gets into like all kinds of like weirdness about like you know what is the public outcry what is the reaction how much of it is disinformation how much of it is propaganda the notion that of a nation being outraged and what is the NBA reacting to are they were acting to reel out racially reacting to a government stance and I think this is where the sort of most live part of this story is what conversations are happening among NBA ownership among Adam silver and whoever he’s talking to about what leverage the league has here because I agree with you this isn’t some sort of thing and you know there again been many businesses that have you know whatever reason run across or run afoul of you know China this isn’t the kind of thing where they just you know apologize and reboot this is not what the NBA is gonna do here they’ve made that pretty clear and they might have an opportunity to kind of you know set a new tone here by saying like look we’re gonna do this and you can react the way you’re gonna react but we’re confident that you’re either not gonna you know yank everything or you’re going to come back to us more quickly then you know you’re saying yeah and if there’s really no way to say anything that makes people in Hong Kong feel 100% great or people in China feel hundred percent great without offending the other side and I’m sure that’s they’ve tried to look at that from every angle and have been unable to which leads my Lexx lesson which we learned at dub dubby in South Africa is how much is a business relationship worth for our sports enterprise we saw this with the with ESPN where they were really hard on the NFL really really hard I’d like to think I played a tiny part in that and at some point Goodell said you know what fuck you guys I’m giving you the worst Monday night football schedule anyone’s ever had we’ve tried to make sure we’ve put every terrible quarterback on here at least once enjoy this this shit souffle you fuckers and he did that and now potaro comes in and anything Bottari very smartly first move was like got to rebuild my relationship with the NFL that relationship was clearly worth more for them than having a climate where people who work for them can just spout off on whatever they thought of I wonder what the NBA’s prices with this mm-hmm you know like if this situation got worse let’s say they have one of the games and there’s really bad protesting before and after and it just escalates what’s the number that makes all of them look at each other and go this isn’t worth it anymore I don’t know but I think the number would be ten figures that they would have to walk away from here ten figures in terms of like what would be the number that beats or their break point for walking away I’m saying they might be like this will cost us a billion dollars over the next whatever right seven eight years we’re okay with that if that number is higher if it’s like three billion dollars I don’t know what it is I don’t know what the math is yeah but yeah I mean and at some point at some point you you you kind of end up just going huh all right we just gotta play this out we don’t want to lose that China money and that they might be in that situation yeah I mean and also the league is not just like invested in this as some sort of like you know entertainment thing they’re also they’re as developmental they’re looking at you know creating you know the next wave of Chinese superstars true has enormous appeal to them yeah they’re invested in many other countries for the same exact reason and you know silver is already pointed to this and the you know the aftermath of all this they’re like you know it’s hard to look at it’s hard to find a more international league certainly in North America than what the NBA has put together but I do feel like yet there is probably a moment at which they you know assess the risk of walking away but I just don’t think that they know that right now and I don’t know that that’s the sort of you know very highly pitched conversation that’s happening internally is trying to determine you know what exactly is the risk of you know standing up because they are not like you know this has been characterized in certain places as being the some more abject apology it has not been an explode upon gee know and you know competitively this is a league that is run by thirty dudes Adam Silver who are all very very motivated to try to supplant the NFL as the most successful sport in America and the biggest advantage they have is the globalization of the week in the ability to sell basketball all over the fucking place like even like my podcast we’ve seen the audience’s grow in places I never would have expected like Australia New Zealand like the Philippines Brazil people love basketball and football does is not able to get in and I mean American football is just not able to break through those cities in the same way and they the NBA knows this and if you’re drawing out the case for the NBA will be more popular than the NFL in 25 years which who knows this is definitely uh yes I mean I would say the NBA’s greatest competitive advantage is the fact that basketball is like a little easier to play is safer how yeah yeah yeah it’s a lot safer as a sport but but unquestionably and look the seeds of this were planted you know a generation and a half ago now I mean this is not something that sort of come up in the Adam Silver regime the International of the globalization of this game dates back decades now and you know you could certainly point to like a seismic event like 96 Barcelona with the dream team and was it 96 or 92 92 92 sorry you know those are you know huge things that are paying dividends now and I don’t think this is something that you can just sort of extract the league from it is baked very much into the DNA of the team is baked much into the valuations of franchises now I mean you know both of us I’m sure I’ve had conversations with people about you know ownership right the Commissioner job in virtually every league basically is ownership franchise value of franchise value of franchise value at the end of the day that’s what these guys are judged upon yeah how they improve franchise value if people start to see them tipping then that’s trouble if even if they see them plateauing that’s trouble so if you’re talking about you know withdrawing from markets that start to lead to diminishment of franchise values well that’s a headache more than adding existential problem there’s one last lesson in this and then we’re gonna go we haven’t really mentioned his name yet he’s looming over this story like a black cloud there’s been times during the presidency however you feel either way hmm where Trump becomes kind of like your crazy uncle at Thanksgiving where everybody’s had a couple glasses of wine and you’re like huh man I hope hope uncle Jason doesn’t fucking bring up the divorce from two years ago or whatever and he’s just simmering but you know he’s gonna bring it up cuz it’s uncle Jason it’s like I’m an uncle Jason he’s gonna do it he’s gonna wait till the pie comes out and then it’s gonna happen and Trump is looming over this and he’s been looming over for three days and this is the perfect Trump story because he can come barreling in late off the top rope he can first of all he’s been feuding with China anyway the last few months and now he can pate himself on opposite corners of the NBA a league that he’s expressed his disdain for people like LeBron who have taken shots at him he can do all his weird dog whistle stuff that he’s been doing for five years now and really really really make himself seem like the only person who actually understands this you know the NBA wasn’t tough enough against China but you know who’s been tough against China me Donald Trump I’m right here and if you know he’s gonna do it I can’t believe it hasn’t happened yet he’s gonna absolutely hunter said do this well I don’t know if you know this yeah he’s got some other stuff happening some other topics involving the president of even more urgency in the nation’s capital this is perfect for him though that means he can use this as a distraction yeah sanity and that’s then we’re talking about that but Trump is talking out of all sides of his mouth here too because in addition to like you know talking tough on China and tariffs this is a guy who I guess you know just a barely a couple weeks ago you know congratulated China on its 70th anniversary of communist rule he was like you know congrats to President Xi and the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic China which drew him you know he got in serious he got rebukes from his own party on that so you know he’s not exactly on safe ground there but that has never stopped him no you’re right that like he looms large in this topic I certainly think that he is you know licking his chops at the notion of going after the NBA which has antagonized him by not showing up to his you know congratulatory you know Wendy’s finger they won’t go to the White House any that’s good the way so it’s a real carrot for him but yeah he’s he’s not only exactly stable ground himself well right now he’s conferring with Kendall and Shiv and Roman and just trying to figure out his plan yeah my one succession point which I you know I’m a big fan like everybody else but I feel like there’s been tremendous love for all the supporting actors who are incredible but I think Brian Cox is phenomenal I think he did an incredible I mean I’m not saying anything newsworthy that you know Brian Cox is a tremendous actor but I just think that that performance is unbelievable well if he was involved right now he would just say to China fuck off then that would be it for this no I don’t think so no I think he would be sending Roman over there to kowtow no for no Roman would never be seen again well I hope I’m wrong and I hope this story doesn’t escalate and I hope it kind of dies down it actually does concern me and them for a lot of different reasons but especially because we still have people in China and I hope it doesn’t escalate definitely do we both agree craziest NBA story in five years oh and and about to get crazier I think yeah I think the next 24 to 36 hours are going to be as interesting as anything that’s happened in a major American sports league in decades well we are wrapping up this segment of the podcast that is 506 Eastern Time so if anything happens don’t blame us okay so gay we can read you on the Wall Street Journal thanks for coming on as always thank you all right you can hear him on the press box with Brian Curtis twice a week you can hear him on the masked man chat which covers wrestling as well on the ringer podcast network he just talked about the press Bach on the press box about China a little bit Brian Curtis I was yesterday now a whole bunch we’ve learned a lot more today David shoemaker I just want to go here quickly even though he talked about in the press box the parallels between this and WWE and Saudi Arabia and how that was resolved well I mean it for the WWE situation it wasn’t I mean resolved per se I think they managed to I mean I guess what stands out in the WWE case or at least what stood out at the time when other when various people were trying to make the argument that you know many many major corporations do business and Saudi Arabia how is dub’ to be any different well at the time they were actually I mean people I don’t know if propaganda is the right term but in all of the promotional materials for the first pay-per-view they did they were like exhibiting the glories of Saudi Arabia and just extolling the virtues of the country in like in the context of wrestling so that was a little bit different they managed to back off a lot of that in the in the subsequent events and I can only assume they’re related well when I say when I say how they resolved it they didn’t resolve it they just kept John they kept going they just kept going CTC is Rashid was–what said check I mean listen the hardest thing that a lot that big companies like the NBA like W you have to deal with her one of the things they have to deal with in the in you know current year and the modern age is kind of be is publicly acknowledging their reliance on you know nefarious foreign countries I mean that’s a lot a lot of the money that they did that they process comes from questionable places and but at the end of the day the money’s almost always gonna win out you know yeah let’s talk about Smackdown premiered on Friday on Fox mm-hmm I was there with Ben Simmons future pro wrestler you were there with your pressbox partner Brian Curtis and remember Brown who had never been a live wrestling event the bonuses were of the of the night were I like going to a two-hour wrestling of it at the same reason why NXT is so much fun the NXT pay-per-views which are also shorter where you have these things where you show up there’s energy for two hours and then it’s over that was great compact considering we both went to Wrestlemania which I think is still going we left his resume he’s still going yeah I’ve ended I’m sorry so I really like that it was unbelievable to see the rock again doing his thing especially when he’s been on such autopilot I’m baller Selassie’s and just driving around in a car talking sadly doing dumb narration and it was like he became the rock again it was like oh yeah you’re the best that’s ever done this and to see him out there with Becky Lynch and parent Corbin and he’s just so much better than everybody they have like it’s no contest that was cool and then uh the the ladder match with Shane McMahon versus Kevin Owens Kevin Owens was great the ending not so great they ended Kofi Kingston’s reign in five seconds that was abrupt funny my son was cackling like he thought it was hilarious that Kofi Kingston his title reign was done in two seconds but then the big surprise Cain Velasquez comes out which played great on TV cuz the announcers are selling and I’m sure in the room probably two-thirds of the people had no idea who of us sure and it was a weird way to end the show ultimately though what we were thoughts on the show itself and what it means for the business going forward I mean I thought it was a really good show I mean a lot of people had you know various you know knits to pick with the production even up until the last minute but you’re right I mean the two-hour show is always a lot of fun you don’t get bogged down and the video packages and like in-house commercials and everything like that and you and it does sort of feel more like a live event because you know the pace keeps going and you know a little and a lot of what they showed was I mean a lot of the event outside of the Owens McMahon match and the rock saying it was kind of just like a welcomed you know a brief introduction into WWE for those uninitiated to the current product you know they put out they threw a lot of the big stars into multi-person tag matches and just kind of let you know all the things that were going on in the status quo and then an ax lumberjack match they brought it back for the eighties just the excuse to get 40 people outside for no reason absolutely and and it was I mean I thought even the even the that was sort of silly was was fine and fun and you know the ending like you said with Kofi Kingston and Brock Lesnar I mean if you’re if if this if the whole show is the sort of you know greatest hits of current wrestling they certainly went in the wheelhouse and just pulled out the old trusty what the fuck ending with oh I can say the non cussing version WTF ending with with with Brock Lesnar which is Vince McMahon’s favorite go-to move now ever since ever since Lesnar beat the Undertaker I think Vince’s favorite move is just to have Brock Lesnar beat somebody in a way that just beggars belief yeah and I’m glad to hear Ben was laughing he’s I guess he’s the target audience or you know a future WB executive and maybe both he might be the next Fitz for bed yeah he was cackling he was like I can’t believe they did that yeah I’m so dirty today if they gave them basically the SD Jones WrestleMania one ending yeah I mean and we always mean people like me will sit here and try to like imagine ways in which they can justify it in the future by giving Kofi if you know a future shot in which he looks better and whatever but really I mean this was it’s really hard to read this in any way other than a move by calculated move by you know WWE and by you know the new Fox powers-that-be and you know that are that are working with them to sort of capitalize on the real sports audience that Brock Lesnar and now Cain Velasquez can bring to WWE who knows who knows how long you know I mean it’s apparently they’re gonna fight it this Saudi Arabia event later this month so I don’t know if Falasca is gonna stick around long term he doesn’t even be interested in being a pro wrestler and you know he’s trained and it’s very it’s pretty good shockingly good yeah but yeah I mean the whole thing just feels like for the for the die-hard wrestling fans it was a little bit it was a little bit disheartening not only because Kofi Kingston was sort of a dire you know a favorite of the diehard wrestling fan community but also because anytime you bring somebody in for another sport it really feels like you know it feels like the WWE execs or whoever is is is cares more about the potential new fan than the hands that are their night in and night out yeah there’s a desperation to it I agree it and he was such a good story but I feel like I think we you mentioned this to me first I’ve been thinking about it I think I agree with you I do think they’re heading toward these two parallel universes where Fox’s at the bigger dudes and then raw USA is more of the Kofi Kingston ricochet type guys and it’s a more athletic side would be my guess how they’re gonna play this well I mean it listen I mean Firefox if that if my theory is right I mean Fox will still have you know some ricochet or buddy Murphy or ollie type characters on there to sort of accentuate how how much bigger the the bigger dudes are that’s a good bit but I do but but yeah I mean I think that especially with Paul Heyman running Raw and Paul Heyman being a very kind of canny adept backstage operator and also it’s just sort of a different you know I mean a different playbook coming from the SmackDown Fox side of things I think we could see two like very divergent type rosters and this sort of thing where we’re I mean and in the past you know it’s kind of been the reverse smackdowns kind of is it has traditionally been the home of like good old-fashioned wrestling between the two shows and Rob’s been more of the glitz and glamour that might kind of flip and to a real extreme I think if it’s if it if my theory is correct I mean just because you know these are I mean Fox is a very specific or a very different audience than the one they’re used to playing to or at least are gonna be hoping to attract a different audience and I think what’s left could be a very a very you know let’s say diehard wrestling fan Eden on Raw but we’ll see well you and I both thought we loved the fit of the WT w WM Fox for a couple of reasons but mostly because I thought they would be able to use football to really promote it in all these ways that were both smart and incredibly awkward and it lived up to what I was hoping for a week one we had Becky Lynch cutting promos with Terry Bradshaw and Roman reigns on the Thursday night and if I’ll say it with Michael Strahan just awkwardly interviewing them standing around you know I love nothing more than a good awkward integration is really my wheelhouse but Fox is obviously really really invested in this like and they’re using it as a way to promote all their other stuff and they’re basically saying we now have a gauntlet we have Thursday Night Football we have Friday Smackdown Saturday they’re college football and they had their college football crew including my buddy Rob Stone first row trying to get some attention and then Sunday football games and this is this four-day gauntlet that they feel like they’re they’re just gonna promote the hell out of in wrestling weirdly makes sense in that group I think it’s out of all the networks this had to be the network right oh yeah I mean this is the only I feel like in some ways this is the only network that would have you know kind of the guts to do it but also you know that that has I mean just let me it’s Fox you know the DNA of it it makes sense it makes yeah exactly I’m glad that I’m glad that they had Rob stone there on the front row so Michael Cole could literally be looking over his shoulder at him at that the guy who might be taking his job someday and I don’t and I don’t have any inside information on that but I think that you know that would be that would be something I’d keep an eye on well I wrote about this in my Red Sox book Rob Stone’s wedding was in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and this is of 20 years ago I think it was the same weekend Pedro struck out 17 Yankees in September 1999 and it was during the height of the DIAC Sukkot generation with the cross chop and we were just doing it all weekend as we were doing wrestling jokes the entire weekend even like when we were in the church like there was an urn and I remember I picked picked up the urn and did like the Undertaker thing like it was just it was just the height of guys in their late twenties just making wrestling jokes like just for because it was like who can top the rest joke and it all led to that night after the wedding and the holiday and I think it was there was this band playing and our friend camp did the Sukkot thing at one of our friends and the band guy thought it was at him and jumped out of the thing and jumped them and we almost had like a hardcore rumble in the Holiday Inn all based off Sukkot and this is that Rob stones wedding so my point is Rob stone real wrestling fan it’s actually happened we almost had like a real DX fuelled brawl little holidays I would have I just my goal would have been not to get punched just say might I have yeah I have a fond memory of my friends younger brother doing the the crotch chop as he like crossed a graduation stage I just can’t even remember I mean I can’t even imagine what would happen if someone tried to do that in 29 oh my god kitty this should be a documentary of everybody’s favorite crotch chop story from 1999 it was a thing it was in there it was really a thing I mean it’s it’s it’s funny it’s those like Austin 3:16 shirts and like and making an X chop on your crotch were the two biggest signs of WWE’s like pop culture influence it’s pretty wild so I called you today because we had decided a couple weeks ago that the masked man show should be on Friday we felt like all right this new wrestling weekly wrestling cycle is gonna be so different what is the best day to have a wrestling podcast we’re like we’ll do it on Friday leading into Smackdown now we just experienced a week of this we’re like oh that’s actually completely the wrong day it should be on Tuesday coming off Smackdown and the pay-per-view leading into all this other stuff the reason I bring this up not to tell people what we talked about on the phone is the wrestling calendar is so goofy now where there’s just a lot of content we’re having pay-per-views now it seems like every four weeks even sometimes even more frequent than that but now aw is gonna have pay-per-views too we have a W against DX on Wednesday nights we have R on Monday night’s Smackdown on Friday nights are we hitting are we passing some invisible tipping point of having too much wrestling content because it feels like we’re there I mean yeah it’s it’s it’s a hypothetical tipping point I do think that having weirdly having Smackdown Fridays you know it opens up your week to I think make some decisions about what you’re gonna give your time to you know means are very different obviously different audiences there that every that every show is sort of pointing at Wednesday night’s gonna be a lot of fun with NXT and aew I think just because the competition is gonna keep us engaged and I think the newness and freshness of aew and the sort of I mean I guess the the relative freshness of NXT you know that’s a lot of the real vital talent in pro wrestling is on those two shows but the competition that thing is what’s gonna keep us engaged in Friday night you know I mean who knows how it’s gonna shake out but it sure feels like with with Fox with Fox’s backing that that smackdown is gonna be you know the sort of a show all of a sudden for WWE so I don’t know where exactly that leaves raw in the pecking order but you know I wouldn’t mind having some some Monday nights with the family instead of sitting in front of the TV watching wrestling and then you can kind of catch up with things I say I guess what it does is it’s so much content that it’s not that you’re gonna be forced to hunt and peck through YouTube for pieces of it for the highlights you know just you know keep up on social media and just you know watching your whatever whatever way you watch TV now with the sort of remote control in your hand to fast-forward through stuff and it’s gonna be incumbent on the on WWE and and and even on aew to keep us from hitting the fast-forward well when football did this it was kind of like oh man more football another day okay fantasy and gambling let’s go yeah wrestling it’s like ah you know if I had to prioritize that the three hour Roz probably last on my list mm-hm it’s interesting though with the aw NXT thing my son was into aw I think he’s the quintessential wrestling audience right the 11-year old who’s on the trampoline attacking his six-foot Panda and doing wrestling moves on it this is this is who that who they’re banking on and once once NXT went against aw he was out on aw he’s like screw those guys um he’s all in on XT he just loves that next T so I’ll be interested to see how that plays out I know aww killed them on the on the ratings last week but it was also the launch of the show is the third week of NXT which is a mistake but they the NXT has really belt has really built some equity with younger fans and people in their 20s which we could feel at WrestleMania that was a more fun pay-per-view than WrestleMania oh yeah yeah so I didn’t that way for a little while I mean that’s that’s the I mean the diehard fans the kind of fans that are gonna travel to go to Wrestlemania would probably you know or when they get there they’re more excited about the NXT no question and part of that’s the talent you know I mean these are these are you know sort of the indie rock wrestlers that that people you know that the hardcore fans sort of follow you know event by event and fetishize in various ways but it’s also just the booking I mean Triple H is running that show and and eBooks it like an old school wrestling territory and yeah I mean part of and part of the part of the appeal was that he was able to you know we had he wasn’t trying to fill up five hours a week you know I mean it’s a relatively small show and you can kind of focus on the couple of feuds that really mattered and and build those slowly and methodically but but regardless the the storytelling is you know it felt a lot more fulfilling and a lot more coherent in a lot of ways so I think it’s gonna be tough for them to do two hours every week just like I think it’s gonna be tough really tough for a alw because they had their roster is not deep enough now and you know and when your big reveal on your first show is like oh my god that’s Jack Swagger he was the 49th most important wrestler seven years ago that’s that’s not really making a huge splash all due respect to Jack Swagger who was used I think he’ll be better as a heel with a beard with his what’s his real name Jack Hager Jake Hager yeah Jake Hager I think he’s better off that way but um but yeah they need a lot more guys than even like NXT grabbing Finn Baylor I thought was interesting like the return of Finn Baylor who was always one of my son’s favorite guys and never felt like he got his total kind of push in WWE got hurt too which didn’t help uh but yeah you got the universe of the universal championship and then immediately got hurt I mean that and that and that can be everything in a pro wrestling career especially in WWE before aew you know there’s relatively little competition at least stateside and and so you know it’s a your career can be it can feel a little bit fickle at times but you have Finn Balor’s over there at NXT and they were looking for I mean they were civically targeting like one fairly big name from the main roster to bring down and he just sort of lined up perfectly you know coming back off a little bit of time off and and and being able to surprise everybody and and he know he spent some time in an XT so he’s got the admiration of the fans down there in Florida that could be really cool well it remains to be seen I guess how big of a how big of a you know how meaningful he is to ratings but it sure does make it feel like more part you know more of a real part of the the fabric of the you know WB universe and and and I yeah I’m looking forward to see what they do I mean I have some I have some you know some Steve NXT yeah I mean men and women who were just among my very very favorite so it’s you know I’m excited to see how that plays out there well Ben Simmons was so excited Tommaso Chapas Beck mmm-hmm that was like one of his favorites their day actually if you went wrestler for wrestler they might actually have more wrestlers that my son likes than the dub dubby does if you’re gonna do like your top eight I think he would probably pick the top eight but he just likes that style wrestling more you know and I think you could even fill in the Smackdown show where the first hour of it there was probably what 11 minutes of wrestling and it was a lot more promos and bits and interviews and he just wants to see guys flying off the rope doing flips and all kinds of stuff hey I think the only woman’s wrestler he loves Becky Lynch I mean that’s I but I have to actually think he’s in love with Becky Lynch which he’s probably a piece of that we walk by her and on Sunday night and she almost had a stroke but um the one wrestler that is just spectacular and I think has a real case for the goat for women’s wrestling and is probably thought that anyway but I really think it’s been cemented Charlotte Flair just gets better and better and she’s the one woman’s wrestler in person that is really breathtaking like that backflip she does off the top rope it to multiple people is one of the most death-defying moves anybody has I’m just so impressed by her I think she continues to improve yeah she’s really spectacular I mean I think part of I mean she she’s she’s a little bit hamstrung just because she’s so much more of a physical force than a lot of the people that she’s in the ring with yeah the week basis you know it would be interesting to see her in a you know a company full of her physical equals although it’s never gonna happen it’s not happening I mean there are there’s some real there’s some bangers coming up man I mean like you know Shayna Baszler is down there in NXT that really they’d be a really fun matchup and then you know Tony storm Andrea Ripley really is obviously more of a you know as closer to Charlotte’s stature but Annie oh sure I was down there too I mean the the developmental system is loaded with women who are going to be have the potential to be giant stars so you know what so you think it’s crazy that Ric Flair’s one of the four best wrestlers ever and I think some people would make the case he’s the best mm-hmm I don’t know how I feel about it I’d really have to look at everything he’s definitely in the conversation and his daughter is now the best woman’s wrestler of all time in my opinion yeah like can you imagine if Michael Jordan like his daughter was just easily the best player in the WNBA right now that would be like fucking crazy yeah it’s not even Michael Jordan because Michael Jordan was a freak I mean I mean Ric Flair was a freak in a lot of ways but nobody would have pegged him to be like I mean he wasn’t like ricochet back sure he’s more like Larry yeah he’s more like Larry Bird yeah it would be like if the birds daughter was the greatest everyone you’d be like well I mean I’m sure she learned a lot but but that would be if Larry Bird’s daughter turned out to be you know a cutter unmad I mean it’s it’s crazy that Ric Flair I mean I could imagine Ric Flair I guess is what I’m saying that his daughter would be like the most brilliant wrestler of all time it’s shocking that like his daughter is like the female Brock Lesnar she’s the best at facial expressions at carrying herself in the ring I kind of own in the stadium I think one of the issues with women’s wrestling when you go see it in person is the command of the room just is in there because they’re not as physically imposing like even you could feel it on Friday night the two people that walked in and you’re just like oh yeah they are meant to do this where the rock and Brock Lesnar Brock Lesnar comes out we talked about this before when you in the arena and he comes out you feel like you’re in fucking Rome in the 15 of whatever-whatever century in the gladiator he’s about to like wrestle a tiger you know he he just doesn’t seem like the other guys and I think the rock was like that too in his heyday and Charlotte out of all the women is probably the closest to that other than maybe nyah jacks cuz when she comes out she’s physically imposing for a bunch of different reasons but but yeah Charlotte there’s a command come into the room with her that definitely you can feel in in a 17,000 C stadium that’s no small feat yeah I know III love that cheese and in the big robes and everything else that she doesn’t she’s great yeah I mean she accentuates it and it’s and yeah I mean you’re definitely right she can she can fill up one of those big arenas in a way that it’s really tough to although you know Becky Lynch is a much smaller in stature but but in it I mean she didn’t feel out of place standing next to the Rada time is bigger than her and that in the ring and to open up the show you know who’s sweet on Charlotte Flair shoemaker who Neffe Kyle get out no you were you were when we took you to rest in that time that was the one that jumped out no you like there you say these tears the dark room I respect you said who’s most likely to talk to you talk to at the dark room at 11:00 is the most likely to be at the dark room yeah but that’s why you liked her she’s your people sure she’s cat Wow who’s the top of your list let’s get into this you might have to have Kyle on the on the masked man show he could give his list now you’re welcome anytime that’ll be great yeah Becky Lynch I’ll be interested to see how her next couple years ago because ultimately the the history of wrestling would tell us that at least a chunk of the wrestling fan base will turn on her at some point because she’s so popular that just doesn’t work in wrestling for more than two years that’s name me anybody who’s been popular from where that popular for more than two years where there’s not that fuck that backlash and people turn so when does that happen with her well they turn I mean they turned Austin heel before that could happen but I’d say he was popular for more than a couple years but but your right I mean I think that that’s that’s a really that’s that’s the right thing I will say in her defense that she by the skin of her teeth made it through what would have turned the audience on anybody else which was like coming out openly in in the storyline with her real-life engagement to Seth Rollins I mean right that like having your two biggest baby faces have it revealed that they are in a permanent relationship is like boom material I mean that’s like there’s nothing that should turn the crowd on you know more than more than that and and and both of them sort of made it through and her in particular so you know maybe she’s maybe she’s a little bit more bulletproof than then then some other people are what do they do wrestling’s never really been in a situation like this with a real-life couple that also double as two of the five biggest stars they have mmm right well has that happen before I mean I don’t know two of the five biggest stars no I mean they’re not not female wrestlers I’m trying to think if there’s an example say there’s never been anything like this I mean Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth she wasn’t wrestling but Miss Elizabeth the huge star a god of the 80s I mean they came in together that’s yeah that’s I mean but I mean where they became they were able to get storylines out of them that a few storylines said let’s just say have not aged well I’m sure but I think in this case from a wrestling standpoint there’s seems like there’s a lot they can do with this but I benched that maybe they don’t want to work together maybe yeah I think I think it’s I think it’d be wise to keep them apart especially because like it’s not I mean I guess you can exploit it when it’s necessary but like you know wrestling fans know it’s had no know that’s happening and I get for some reason just to bring it into the I mean that’s it’s one aspect of real life that like we’re wrestling fans just don’t feel the need to see translate over into the ring I think is you know I don’t know it just it just feels a little bit off for whatever reason you’re down on this relationship I can feel it I can hear it in your voice you don’t like it you know I think they I think they taught you’re talking about wrestling history I think that the I mean this isn’t a direct parallel but there’s a one of the really great things especially if you’re a WWE fan is that having those two in a relationship makes it makes you feel a little bit more comfortable that they’ll stick around for the long term right it’s like it’s like when it’s like old wrestling promoters used to get visas try to get wrestlers to marry their daughters to make before they’d make him champion you know they would stay but no I think I you know listen I want my favorite wrestlers to find happiness it’s one thing the wrestlers of my childhood of your childhood very most of those did most of those dudes did not find happiness and and I and I want nothing but the best for for the wrestlers of this generation honestly and and you know most of these wrestlers now and says Ron’s and Becky Lynch are examples of this they grew up like big wrestling fans yeah I mean and not like they’re not football players who blew their knees out and always make this point but like these are these are folks like us and and and I want them to succeed and I want them to be happy folks like Ben Simmons 10 years from now absolute my only chance for him to get a job Schumaker press box Tuesday Friday it’s been on fire lately lord knows we were worried about twice a week would this work and there’s more than enough for you to talk about twice a week especially as we head into 2020 and then the masked man show what you’re doing this week on Thursday special guests I won’t spoil it and then we’re moving that to Tuesday and that’s going to be – it’ll go up late Tuesday night heading into this weird new wrestling calendar we have we’ll see how long it lasts I can do Schumaker you’re the best good talking you thanks man it’s good to be here all right thanks to Jason gay thanks to David shoemaker thanks to zip recruiter don’t forget to go to zip recruit comm slash PS don’t forget about the rewatchable Remember the Titans it’s already up and we’ll be back on Thursday one more podcast and you said we’re sylla’s podcast is really good right it’s fun and it’s weird you wanted it you got it weird Wednesday’s weird Wednesday’s yah rasilla I’ve been pushing him to do weird Wednesday’s and finally he’s he started weird Wednesday’s I predict the coming thing hashtag weird Wednesday’s back on the BS on Thursday until that

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