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A Requiem For ‘Inside The NBA’ From A Guy Who Barely Watched It

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 17: Shaquille O'Neal, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley from TNT talk as a part of State Farm All-Star Saturday Night on Saturday, February 17, 2024 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2024 NBAE (Photo by Brandon Todd/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brandon Todd/NBAE via Getty Images

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we're talking about Jeff Goldblum, weed, comic strips, ghosts, and more.

Your letters:


It really looks like Kenny is sick of Shaq & Chuck. I also think Shaq might be a sociopath and that he's jealous of the fact that people like Charles more. I don't really have an avenue of social media to fire off this take.

Well then, you came to the right place. First off all, I’m not convinced that Kenny is sick of his Inside The NBA castmates. He probably gets tired of them on occasion, same way all of us do with our own co-workers. He’s also paid to be the straight man on that set and roll his eyes whenever someone else says something stupid. And he’s definitely not sick of that paycheck. That’s why he’ll almost certainly join in the fun if Charles Barkley makes good on his plans to produce Inside The NBA independently and then sell it to whoever gets NBA TV rights next:

The negotiations involved here have been going on for so long that I half-expect the NBA to surprise everyone by signing exclusively with a newly created Fanatics streaming service. But let me give you a quick summary of where we stand. Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery have shared NBA rights for nearly all of this century. WBD, which owns TNT, probably could’ve renewed its NBA rights had its CEO, breathtaking asshole David Zaslav, not lowballed the league and then openly said that his company didn’t need the NBA to survive. That pissed off Adam Silver enough that he reportedly refused to make any deal with Zaslav thereafter, which means that the next round of broadcast deal will likely be a split affair between Disney, Amazon, and NBCUniversal.

As a child of the 1990s, I would love nothing more than seeing the NBA back on NBC. As an adult of the 2020s, I would hate nothing more than finding out I have to subscribe to fucking Peacock to get it. Regardless, no more WBD in the mix means no more TNT, which means no more Inside The NBA, at least not in its present form (host Ernie Johnson plans on staying with TNT no matter how the negotiations turn out).

This sucks, because Inside The NBA is the only good pregame show on television. That’s rich of me to say, given that I have a longstanding history of dumping on Barkley for being a cranky old man who deliberately avoids doing his homework before going on the air. But A) You just heard me, a 47-year-old man, pining for the return of the NBA on NBC, B) I do a lot of my research for blog posts by just googling shit, and C) I’ve long based my opinions on Chuck almost entirely from clips of him posted to social media, which will inevitably be dumber than his normal work output. I never watched episodes of Inside The NBA in full, which is foolish because I enjoy myself anytime I tune into it.

Now we’re facing one more year of that show before it’s gone forever and I’m like Scrooge on Christmas morning, eager to make up for lost time. I need Inside The NBA to stay around, not only so I can watch it, but so that I can point at NFL studio shows and scream, “You vacuous bags of shit! Why can’t you be more like Chuck and the gang?!” Turns out you ARE a role model, Chuck. A strangely useful one. So pull a Defector and make that shit yourself.


Why in the world does need to create a character for Jeff Goldblum to play in those ads (Brad Bellflower) when all he’s doing is being Jeff Goldblum?

Ah see, they piqued your curiosity, which was probably their master plan all along. Fished in by BIG ADVERTISING yet again!

For real though, I’d like those ads far more if they featured Jeff Goldblum as himself and not Jeff Goldblum playing a character we all know is just Jeff Goldblum. It’s Jeff Goldblum. I’m gonna notice him no matter what he’s saying. No one else on Earth has that man’s patented mix of charisma, intelligence, height, and barely veiled sleaze. In that regard, it’s no wonder that a real estate app would want him to be its frontman. I’d buy a house from Jeff Goldblum. I’d have to take a cold shower after doing it, but I’d do it.

While we’re on the subject of Sketchy Jeff, I’m 47 years old and am still utterly terrified by David Cronenberg’s remake of The Fly. Keep in mind that I’ve never actually seen the film. But I was 10 years old when that movie came out and the ads scared me to death, so much so that I would ask my brother if I could sleep in his bed with him at night (he never turned me down, which makes him the greatest big brother who ever lived). The TV ads scared me to death. The print ads, featuring a single giant fly leg stepping out of a teleportation chamber, scared me to death. And there was a creepy radio ad featuring a variation of “There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly” where the lyrics were reworked to:

There was a young man who turned into a fly
I don’t know why he turned into a fly
Perhaps we’ll dieeeeeeee

All I had to do was think about that ad and BOOM. The covers were over my head. I was already scared of bugs, so the idea of a giant bug man attacking me—or worse, that I myself would become trapped in a bug body forever—triggered a fear reflex in me that’s still there. I should grow up and just watch the stupid thing. After all, it’s widely considered to be a great film. But … nope. Not a chance. If I need a Jeff Goldblum fix, I’ll just watch The Tall Guy again.


How much of our taste in drugs is reliant on the system of delivery? I’ve never done hard drugs, but what if they made cocaine lattes? Heroin gummies? Conversely, who’s looking to snort some caffeine and shoot up some alcohol? It seems like smoking is the middle ground?

You can eat heroin, hence the old term “opium eater.” (I think.) And I’ve watched enough movies to know that you can rub some leftover coke on your gums to get a little extra pep in your step. Neither drug comes in tasty sour apple gummies, or baked into luscious brownies. This is good, because we already know what happens when hard drugs become easier to administer. Fentanyl comes in lollipops. Not sour apple-flavored lollipops, but lollipops all the same. That’s one very likely reason that fentanyl and other orally administrated opioids have killed hundreds of thousands of people. The easier a drug is to take, the easier it is to sell. See alcohol and caffeine for proof (and you can inject alcohol right into your body, I read about Nikki Sixx doing it once). If you don’t have to snort or inject a drug, that takes some of the social stigma away from it. You’re not a junkie. You’re just enjoying an oxycontin protein smoothie. That’s healthy!

I’ve thought about this a bit, since I transitioned a while back from pens to edibles for my jolliness needs. Gummies work very well now, dangerously so if you ask your local 11 p.m. nightly newscast. They’re tasty, fun, and discreet. If I can take a gummy to feel awesome, I’ll take the gummy. Much easier than sprinkling some crack into a sheet of foil and then trying to get a Bic lighter to work. Those lighters get snuffed out by a fucking 1 mph gust of wind.

But one night I took a gummy and I was like, “Wait, do gummies make me a pill popper?” I didn’t wanna be a pill popper, and not even for the “pills can kill you!” reason, but because, strictly in terms of aesthetics, pills aren’t as cool as cigarettes, bongs, and doing rails. You still get high, but you didn’t go to the effort of scoring a dimebag, picking out the stems and seeds, and then carefully rolling a joint like you’re a 19th-century tobacconist. You didn’t EARN your trip on The Rainbow Connection. That’s not rock n’ roll. That’s the shit you do after you can’t rock n’ roll anymore. Take it from Sam in Walk Hard when he told Dewey Cox, “We doin' pills. Uppers and downers. It's the logical next step for you!” Pills are sad, and I don’t wanna be a sad boy. I wanna be a party boy.

So when I went to San Francisco earlier this month, I went out of my way to consume pre-rolls instead of edibles. I also took my first hit from a bong. Both methods of consumption did the job but more than that, I cherished the ritual involved. Smoking up completes the process of the high. Plus it makes you look cool. My mom will get mad at me if I write any more at length about weed, so I’ll stop here. Drugs are bad and don’t do them. I’m lucky in that the people I love who got hooked on drugs only almost died from them, and no worse than that.


Which city that you've traveled to has the best dispensary experience? 

San Francisco, because I got to use the adjacent hash bar. Made me feel like I was a proper dirtbag.


I was putting my suitcase in an overhead bin and there was a chocolate bar, totally wrapped, sitting in the spot where I put my bag down. Would you eat that? It was a brand nicer than Hershey but not bougie, and bigger than a fun size but smaller than a full size bar. (I did not eat said chocolate bar, entirely out of perceived social pressure that I'd look weird.)

If we’re talking free airplane candy, I get to be a snob about it. If it’s an intact Hershey bar, fuck that. Hershey bars are great for s’mores, but I’d never buy one just to eat it by itself. This isn’t 1918. But if it’s pristine Ghirardelli bar, untouched? Oh fuck yeah I’m housing that shit. I wouldn’t eat it right on the spot. I’d tuck it into my bag, get to my hotel, and then consume it there, away from prying eyes.

But Drew, what if someone planted fentanyl and/or razor blades in that Ghiradelli bar?

I live for the danger, amigo.


Drew, I was in the dentist chair, and the hygienist told me, “I have another patient who tells me that brushing his teeth is my job.” “So, every six months?” “Yep!” Horrifying. Has something akin to that happened to you? 

Pete, I’m gonna wager that your hygienist was lying to you. Dentists know that their old tricks—needlepoint signs that say “You don’t have to floss all your teeth, just the ones you want to keep,” enlarged close-ups of mouths ravaged by gum disease—don’t work on patients anymore. They have to get a little bit more creative to scare you into being a good little boy who brushes their teeth thrice daily. Ooh, what if we told patients about another “patient” we have who never brushes their teeth at all? We don’t tell that story in lecture form. We just casually toss it out there, like a bit of Normal Gossip. They’ll be horrified. I bet they’ll brush twice as hard after hearing that shit!

Because if you never brush your teeth, are you really gonna go to the trouble of making routine visits to the dentist? I think not. When I was a kid, I thought differently. I asked my mom, “Hey Mom, why should I bother brushing my teeth if the dentist already does it for me with his super powerful tooth polisher thingie?” Then she was like, “Because I don’t wanna pay for that dentist to pull all of your teeth out when they go bad.” So I kept brushing.

To answer Pete’s question though, I met more than a few deodorant truthers in my lifetime. You can smell coming from a mile away, quite literally.



You called me a tightass last week (Calvin and Hobbes vs. The Far Side) and you were correct to do so, because opinions are subjective and everyone is allowed to have their own (even ridiculous ones), so I apologize. I think my opinion is colored by the fact that my ten-year-old can read Calvin and Hobbes and appreciate it on its own merits because there are fewer dated pop-culture references. Whereas, it's harder for him to appreciate Far Side cartoons without the context that people our age had as kids for whatever reason ("Dad, what's the Iran-Contra scandal?" "What's a collect call?" "Who is Carmen Miranda?" etc.). Is there anything that you really enjoy that would have required so much additional explanation for your kids to also enjoy that you gave up the idea of sharing it with them?

First of all, we’re cool, Jamie. Email again anytime. Now before I answer the second part of your email, let’s talk comic strips. Because I don’t have a terrifically visual mind (my wife, a painter, is the precise opposite), I never judged comic strips or even animated cartoons by the quality of the drawing. Or, as with Looney Tunes, I simply didn’t register it because I was too busy laughing my pint-sized ass off.

I remember when Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi, later outed as a true shitbag, went off on South Park for its crude animation. He fucking HATED that show, mostly because he resented the fact that a badly drawn cartoon ended up being the second most successful animated show in history after The Simpsons. I always considered the crudeness to be part of South Park’s charm, same as Gary Larson’s goofy drawings of cows, vampires, cavemen, and nerdy kids. So long as I laughed, I was good. And if there were references I didn’t get, well that’s just part of the deal growing up, right? You laugh at jokes you don’t necessarily get, often because they’re delivered so well.

But, to answer your main question, my success in getting kids to like somewhat inscrutable shit has been, as you might have guessed, a hit-and-miss affair. My kids love The Simpsons. The older one loves South Park. And all of them have watched Spaceballs 50 times. But when I tried to get them into Bill & Ted, I failed. You’d be surprised how much of the original film is alien to people born in this century. What is a phone booth? Why is dad excitedly telling me, “That’s George Carlin”? Who is Eddie Van Halen? What teenager wants to be in a rock band? You can understand why there was little use in trying to answer all of those questions while the movie was ongoing.

Blowing the question out, only one of my kids understands the rules to football, and he still doesn’t give a shit about it. I might have to prepare some kind of PowerPoint deck on the topic for everyone else in the house.


We found out a few months ago that a home in our neighborhood just had its fourth person die in it in the 30 or so years it has been around. All the deaths were natural causes, and spread out over three decades and multiple owners. But it still seems like a lot. Even if you don't believe in ghosts, the vibes seem to be a bit off with that home. Would you still buy it if you were in the market and everything else made sense? How many deaths is enough for you to pass on a dream home?

So these were all natural deaths? I’m making an offer, especially if those deaths give my realtor a touch of leverage at the bargaining table. If you buy a house that’s been around for a while, there’s a good chance that someone died in it. That’s what you’re supposed to do in a house you love. You make a life there, then you contract TB, and then you die peacefully in your own bed. This is not shit The Amityville Horror is made of. The only way a house becomes haunted is if someone murders a little girl in it. Then her specter walks through walls in the middle of the night, singing “Ring Around The Rosie” in a slow, menacing fashion. That’s when you know it’s time to call in the Mystery Machine.

Sometimes I wonder if the house I live in is haunted. It’s been around since the mid-20th century, so many of the people who once lived here are no longer with us. If it’s dark and I’m alone, my mind fucks with me and gets ready for a floating butler to come up behind me while I’m changing the laundry. Alas, no dice.

My sister TOTALLY believes in ghosts though, so she wouldn’t buy that quad-death house even if the list price was cut by 90 percent.


A few months ago, I was stirred awake at around 3 a.m. by the simple thought of Gilbert Gottfried saying the name of relief pitcher guy Kiko Calero. It tickled me enough that I struggled to fall back asleep. So I was left in an insomniac's fog wondering who the best in-stadium announcer would be. I think Jeff Goldblum and JB Smoove are also good options.

I have a soft spot in my heart for Gilbert Gottfried, but I can’t imagine liking him as the PA announcer during an entire, three-hour baseball game. You gotta take your Gottfried in small doses. This is why he was only allowed to say one word in any AFLAC commercial. More than that and the company would start getting even more complaints about those ads than they already do. Confine Gilbert to a small role in a Beverly Hills Cop movie and that’s just the right amount.

I didn’t mean to circle back to Jeff Goldblum in today’s bag, but Sam inadvertently pressed the issue. Yes, he’d be a lovely stadium announcer. But why stop that far down on the A-list? Think bigger, like so:

  • James Earl Jones
  • Jack Nicholson
  • Barack Obama
  • Kathleen Turner
  • Liev Schreiber
  • Jeremy Irons
  • Ving Rhames
  • Charlize Theron
  • Brian Cox
  • Morgan Freeman
  • H. Jon Benjamin
  • Sam Neill
  • Pierce Brosnan

You get the idea. There are too many good options for me to stew on the idea much longer. Also, I don’t wanna give BIG AI any more shitty ideas.


I was wondering how many meals in a row you could eat sandwiches (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)? What is the most absurd meal you would create to keep the streak alive?

I bet I could do it in perpetuity, especially if we’re gonna use the expanded definition of “sandwich” that includes burgers, hot dogs, tacos, and fettuccine alfredo for some reason. I already eat the same breakfast—a bowl of Raisin Bran Crunch—every day, so switching that to an egg-and-bacon sandwich would take relatively little effort. I often make breakfast tacos for my lunch, so those can stay in place. Ditto any bagel I eat in that slot. Or I can just do up an Italian sub for lunch every day instead. No gripes there. Then, for dinner, I could mix it up between cheesesteaks, burgers, dogs, bratwurst, paninis, more tacos, more hot dogs, and the occasional torta. If anything that has a lone carbohydrate cell in it counts as a sandwich, this is an easy challenge to take on. In fact, I don’t know why I don’t just eat like this every day already (it’s because I have heart disease).

Now, I have to bore you with a dad fact that I, shockingly, only learned this year. Hampton Sides has a new book out, which I bought right away because I’ll read anything by Hampton Sides. In this book, he explains that back in the 1700s, the then–Earl of Sandwich was a very busy man who hated taking time out of his day to sit down for a meal. So, to save time, he’d throw a slice of roast beef between two slices of bread and then just munch on that while sketching out ambitious naval expeditions. HEY PRESTO. The idea stuck, and now sandwiches are the No. 1 sandwich product in the world. Now ain’t that some shit? I thought some culinary master in Basqueland devised the sandwich in a frenzied epiphany. Turns out it was just some asshole who fancied himself too important to sit down for a bowl of soup.


Was there ever an athlete as impressive/relatable to a child as Muggsy Bogues?

Only if you count Spud Webb, but he could dunk.

Email of the week!


I caught the discussion of name pronunciations on the last pod and wanted to share my experience. When we had my son 10 years ago, my wife and I wanted name that was an easy to spell and pronounce, so we picked Riley. Living in Canada at the time, this was a very common name and hard to screw up.

What we didn’t anticipate at the time was moving to the French-speaking region of Switzerland and putting him in public school where it was all in French. These kids and teachers had never heard the name Riley before, and consistently butchered it pronouncing it as “Relay,” “Ri-lay,” or the worst, using the French “r” pronunciation which makes it sound like the speaker has something caught in their throat while pronouncing the first syllable.

My four-year-old was initially frustrated by this, but quickly found his resolve and corrected everyone in the school, kids and teachers alike, calmly saying, “Ce n'est pas mon nom” (that’s not my name) and making them pronounce it the English way. The whole school now knows how to pronounce Riley, and he paved the way for a second Riley who joined a few years later.

Extremely proud of him. If it were me I probably would have let it slide and spent the next 12 years being called Relay.

That’s great hustle by the kid. Just be glad he never went to an American school. Doesn’t matter what your name is, kids here will still find a way to nickname you Assface.

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