Pop Culture

NBA Players Are Creating a Lot of Content. Which Is the Best?

NBA players are no longer satisfied being literally the coolest guys on the planet. They are now increasingly interested in branching out into various strands of media: podcasts, television shows, and yes, even newsletters. This despite the fact that podcasting especially is extremely not cool and yet everyone seems to want to try their hand at it, even dudes who can posterize literally any human being on planet Earth.

But there’s a sweetness to this sort of access. It’s an unlocked door to brawny, garrulous NBA tenderness. Players talking through COVID with grace and honest introspection has been a boon, even when the topics veer from the sacred to the profane, from brilliance to bullshit. So which pods and YouTube playlists and TV shows should you let into your life as the NBA attempts its own Bubble Boy Panopticon in Orlando? Here’s a primer.

11. The JJ Redick Podcast with Tommy Alter

Three-point marksman JJ Redick clearly takes his pod very seriously: He’s a thoughtful analyst who can occasionally coax good stories out of guests. But the edgiest thing about him is his sleeve of tattoos, and his show could use more highs—or lows. In one highlight, JJ extremely seriously asks Australian Joe Ingles, “What’s a hamburger to you guys?”

10. Winging It with Vince Carter and Annie Finberg

Winging It was at its best when Kent Bazemore was Vince Carter’s youngish, incredibly earnest opposite number. When the gang solemnly discussed Kent’s impending move to the Portland Trail Blazers, it felt like a beloved member of the supporting cast had been written off the show. As a bonus, this was also the podcast that convinced Steph Curry to explain why he thinks NASA never actually made it to the moon (Curry later claimed he was joking and “silently protesting” that people took him seriously).

9. The Boardroom

The not-quite-dimly-lit conference room with a big stack of books off to the side signifies the depth that Kevin Durant’s ESPN+ show aspires to. The typical hoops war stories are swapped out for branding parables: It’s all about endorsement stratagems and the business of the NBA, like Don Corleone. Jay Williams does yeoman’s work keeping the conversation on the tracks, while Durant fidgets discreetly and offers half-whispered interjections, only to disappear halfway through the series, which has now been canceled. Watching Devin Booker explain how much money his sweatshirt cost him is pretty enjoyable, though.

8. Pull Up with C. J. McCollum and Jordan Schultz

C.J. is a known “cool guy,” and as a podcaster he’s certainly been prolific. Hundreds of episodes to enjoy or skip! C.J. sounds raspy on the verge of a vocal fry, more or less relatable, and essentially feels like some dude you know. Fun diversions include C.J. getting a puppy, and also the beginning of a very slight but very funny beef with Kevin Durant, which Durant also felt compelled to address on The Boardroom.

7. Road Trippin’ with Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye, and Ally Clifton

The first episode of the original NBA player podcast, tinny audio and all, dropped in 2017. Honestly, Richard Jefferson is a natural host because his voice sounds like he’s trying to solve an equation in suspenders. He’s undeniably a contemplative sort, that one smart dude you know who’s recording in between sessions of his Neon Genesis Evangelion rewatch. And Channing Frye is a great 1A, a stolid, huge, irreverent Ed McMahon. Jefferson delights in telling Frye that his details are wrong, which is nice. This is more than fine.

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