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An Extremely Mild And Possibly Temporary Endorsement Of Reggie Miller

BOSTON, MA - MAY 1: Reggie Miller and Kevin Harland look on during the game between the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics during Round 2 Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Playoffs on May 1, 2023 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. 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 2023 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Dow/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 Tom Brady, grief, seven-meat pizzas, and more.

Your letters:


Does Mark Jackson know how to say "Jokic"? He literally only says "Joker" or "The Joker" on the broadcast. I'm starting to think he didn't vote Jokic for MVP, because he forgot his real name and was too afraid to ask someone.

Mark Jackson is absolutely one of those guys who’s too proud and too stupid to learn how to pronounce someone’s name correctly. So sure, I can buy JT’s explanation up above for the ballot snafu. Mark Jackson exists in that special place where I will believe ANY theory about him being a brazen shithead. If you told me that he frequently gets the accelerator and the brake pedals confused, I’d be right there with you.

Now, in more vital news, I have done a 180 (not a complete 180, just a 180; thank you reader Kalyn) on Reggie Miller as an announcer. I have hated Reggie in the booth for decades, to the point where hearing his voice at the top of the broadcast would make me want to stop watching. He was basketball Mark Schlereth to me. My colleagues here at Defector were like, “Hey man, Reggie is actually all right now,” and I violently opposed them. LIKE Reggie Miller? Tolerate him? How dare they betray my values like that? I was incensed, ready to burn this whole company down.

No longer. I watched the Eastern Conference Finals and it was crystal clear that TNT’s booth was superior to ESPN’s. What’s more, Reggie has somehow gone from being an intrusion on the broadcast to being Not Annoying, which is all I ask of my color men and something that neither Mark Jackson nor Jeff Van Gundy will ever be. This is such a rare occurrence in broadcasting that I can’t even think of a similar instance of it happening.  Reggie even made his speaking voice like 20 percent less nasal. It’s a small miracle, and one I cherish.

So I apologize to my colleagues to resenting their Reggie Miller tolerance levels. You were right. Reggie Miller is no longer on notice in my household. Also, Kevin Harlan is the best voice in the game, especially when the Celtics are gagging like me getting a dental x-ray.


How concerned are you that "In Times New Roman..." is self-produced? Normally that gives me a feeling of dread, but it sounds like Mark Rankin is involved, and Josh Homme has a decent track record. With that in mind, I guess my question is, what are the best and worst self produced rock (or otherwise) albums? Best is easier and not as interesting: “Pet Sounds” and such. Though “The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion” still sounds surprisingly thick.

Before I answer Karl’s main question, let’s add in some background for a moment. Queens of the Stone Age just announced that they have a new album dropping in June called, In Times New Roman... They’ve already released one single from it, and it reminds me of their previous album, Villains, in that it’s good but lacks that I GOTTA HEAR THIS OVER AND OVER magic that the very best songs and albums have. I need catchy hooks, no matter the artist, and QOTSA has been stingy with them for a few years now.

This was somewhat inevitable, because this band has been around since 1996. They’re very old, and they might be running out of steam. Only natural for that to happen. Also, since Villains came out, frontman Josh Homme has been accused by his ex-wife, Brodie Dalle, of being horribly, violently abusive throughout the course of their marriage. The kind of shit that makes it very hard to separate art from artist. So I’m wary in every regard. I’m not gonna put a whole of emotional capital into awaiting this album because even if it’s good, it’ll still come with a nasty string attached.

As for album production, I don’t really give a shit. Good producers—like Rick Rubin, Butch Vig, Brendan O’Brien, etc.—have a way of protecting artists from their worst impulses: ones they might otherwise indulge when left to produce albums themselves. But there aren’t necessarily a lot of good producers out there. I remember the name Flemming Rasmussen distinctly because he produced three of Metallica’s seminal four first albums. I used to study the liner notes of all of them (Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, and …And Justice For All) as I was listening to the tapes, thinking to myself this Rasmussen guy must be the greatest producer on earth. And then, in later interviews, the band was like, “That guy sucked! He barely did anything!”

So it’s never easy to figure out who, exactly, did the heavy lifting behind the scenes on a great record. Sometimes it’s the producer (especially if the artist in question is new), sometimes it’s an obvious mix, and other times you get artists who either know how to self-edit, or eventually learn how to. Nowhere is that variation more evident than in hip hop, because so many rappers have forever operated on both sides of the glass. Dr. Dre self-produced The Chronic, which was a masterpiece. 2 Live Crew produced As Nasty As They Wanna Be, which is a piece of shit that clocks in at just under 80 minutes. And Jay-Z used a separate producer for each track of The Black Album, a record that turned out to be one of the high points of his career. In almost every case, the story of an album’s production is a fun bit of background after the fact, but ultimately irrelevant if you still haven’t hit PLAY yet.

Unless it’s a Bob Rock Metallica album. Then you know you’re in deep shit.


My wife and I just bought a house, and I was wondering if you had any non-standard advice for a pair of first-time homebuyers? We didn't waive the inspection, so we're getting the little things all sorted out. We're going to change the locks on Day One and also buying a lawnmower (because what else would do you do after such a huge financial outlay other than buy even more stuff). But I imagine there are more to-dos in my blind spot. Do you have any advice that we might not have thought of?

Our commenters will likely have more specific warnings than I will, because I’ve lived in this house so long that I can only remember the general trajectory of owning it. The way this works is that you will move into your new home and inevitably have a “project” to tend to. You’ll want to change the sink in the downstairs bathroom, or hang new photos in the living room, or mount a TV in the basement. And hey, don’t you need a shed for that lawnmower? Maybe that shed should be a garage if you don’t have a garage already. And if you build a garage, you have to expand the driveway. And if you remodel the driveway, shouldn’t you also get a new front door? Each project begets a new one, and everything eventually breaks.

The good news here is that, one magical day, you will give up and stop giving a shit about these projects. You will leave things unfinished. Soon, you won’t even notice they’re that way. My wife and I kept a stray headboard leaning against the wall in our bedroom for five years. We also had a bunch of framed photos leaning against the wall that we intended to hang but never actually did. We do not use our dining room, as presently constituted, as a dining room. We use it more as a craft room/storage area, and it very much looks that way. There comes a time when you stop dreaming about the kind of house you want and simply live in the one that you have. It’s a nice moment. My office looks like absolute shit, and I love it.


Why do restaurants insist on serving shrimp with their tails still attached? They do it with pasta, fried rice, shrimp cocktail, etc. It’s quite a nuisance. I want to get right down to business with my shrimp. I wanna take a big ol’ bite of pasta with the shrimp. I do not want to delay the shrimpy goodness! But no, apparently I have some pre-work to do before I get into my dinner.

I actually eat shrimp tails, but I agree with you on all of the dishes you listed above. It’s one thing for me to get a fried shrimp with the tail still attached, because the shrimp is the whole bite anyway. That’s not true with pasta, where the shrimp is both doused in sauce and meant to be eaten in tandem with everything else on the plate when you take a bite. If I eat the tail THERE, it gets in the way of the other flavors and textures going on. Wrong time, wrong place, etc. So yeah, I don’t appreciate having to do all of the legwork of removing those tails with my hands, soiling every square inch of my napkin in the process, before I finally get to eat. It’s a pain in the ass. That shit would never happen if Rick Rubin produced all of these dishes.


I recently passed by a 7-Eleven and they were advertising two pizza options: a pepperoni pizza for $8.99 and a seven-meat pizza for $9.99. Two questions. How good can a $9.99, seven-meat pizza from 7-Eleven taste, and can you name all seven meats without Googling it? I could only name three with confidence.

I have never eaten any of the hot food available at 7-Eleven, which is an upset because I still look at the bacon cheeseburger taquitos rolling around behind the counter and the teenage drunk in me thinks to himself, “Those look pretty solid.” That said, I’ve eaten a lot of shitty pizza in my time, and tolerated nearly all of it. I even liked the pizza at Chuck E. Cheese. Didn’t even bat an eyelash when I heard they recycle uneaten pizza from one birthday party to the next. So I bet you that I could tolerate a slice of 7-Eleven pizza, and then I’d badmouth it for hours afterward while shitting my brains out.

Now let’s to the meat guessing game, because that’s the main attraction here. I’m gonna guess pepperoni, bacon, ham, hamburger, meatball, Canadian bacon, and chicken. Let’s see how I did!

Our 7-Meat Pizza is topped with Chicago-Style Sausage, meaty sausage and beef crumbles, crispy pepperoni, smoky bacon, Canadian Bacon and diced ham.

I was SO fucking close! Also, two kinds of sausage? That’s a 6.5-meat pizza, if you ask me. I want my money back.


Who would win in a matchup between a conference champion and the All-Star team of the other conference? Like, imagine if two days before the NBA Finals, the Heat all vanished and the NBA called on the Eastern Conference All-Star team to be Denver’s opponent, and the series couldn't be delayed at all.

The Nuggets would win that series, and decisively. I am a poor basketball knower, but even I know that A) Denver already has an obscenely talented roster, and B) Even the most talented teams needs some time and coaching to cohere. So if you’re telling me that the Eastern Conference All-Star Team would have only two days to learn to play real games together, and not just glorified Rock N’ Jock games, they’re gonna be at a pronounced disadvantage playing a team that’s been together for years now. And the best part of this take is that Ricky’s scenario will never come to pass, and thus I can never be proven wrong. I WIN.



Has texting gifs become a corny old person thing? I’ve honed my gif game over the years and I feel like a clever boy whenever I make my fellow olds laugh with one. But I’m petrified to send one to my 24-year-old niece. We already have one uncle in the family who thinks he’s in touch with the youth when he clearly is not. I don’t want to be the second.

TOO LATE! You can’t stop what’s coming, dear Adrian. Five years from now you’ll be texting those same friends Chuck Norris jokes. And even if you don’t send those jokes to your poor niece, she’ll still have her suspicions.

By the way, I opened up a Bluesky account a few weeks ago ( It’s still invite-only, both to ratchet up demand and because the product is still in beta and lacks some basic functionality. As I write this, Bluesky can’t accommodate video. Its search function is worse than Lycos. It has no desktop app or browser compatibility. There are no trending topics, and hashtags don’t work. But also, blessedly, there are no gifs. None. Gifs don’t work on that site and I pray that they never do. I’m so gif-ed out from Twitter that the mere sight of a gif—even a clever one—makes me want to go on a nine-state killing spree. Everyone uses them, from corny olds people to clueless kids, and not a single gif has ever added anything useful to the conversation. This is why Bluesky is currently, despite being parbaked, a flawless app.

It won’t stay that way. The reason Bluesky is appealing is because it’s Twitter without Twitter: short posts, funny pictures, etc. It’s a chance for everyone to start Twitter over again, and perhaps make a better social media network in doing so. But what did I do the second I joined Bluesky? I looked for everyone I already follow on Twitter, and then I skeeted some tweets. So once Bluesky is ready for the masses, they’ll all come over and infuse the app with all of their bullshit: stolen jokes, racism, sexism, thirsty replies, endless doomsday bullshit, hacky gifs, ironic LOLS, and on and on. History repeating itself, one nodding Jack Nicholson at a time.

So I’m gonna cherish my dalliance with Bluesky exclusivity while it lasts. No one follows me right now. It’s fucking great. I don’t have to be on guard all the time, looking at my replies with one eye closed. I don’t have to be surrounded by hordes of people online who are all itching for a fight. Hell, I could post about how hot Rebecca Ferguson is in MI:5 if I wanted to, and I’d get ZERO replies. Why, it’s almost as if I’m not online at all! Heaven.


My mom died a week ago today. She was 78 and by far the kindest, gentlest soul I’ve ever known. After keeping leukemia at bay for six months, while coping with an autoimmune disease at the same time, it attacked her with a vengeance and turned a routine blood test into an ER trip and a four-day battle in the hospital. We were able to transition her to hospice care in her room on the third day, which meant access to powerful drugs that helped her final hours be ones of peace. Thank Christ for the nurses who saw the end coming, and guided us on the right steps to take.

Now it’s just my dad, and I’m a bit freaked out by what’s ahead. He and Mom have lived in the same house for 54 years and accumulated a lot. I live just 2.5 hours away, so I’ll be coming home a lot. I know there’s no “right” way to do this, but I’m pretty sure there are plenty of wrong ways. Any thoughts on how to make the upcoming months a period of healthy mourning, reflecting, and tidying up with my dad?

I wouldn’t approach this with the idea that there are a lot of wrong ways to go about helping your father grieve. If you do that, you’ll be in constant state of worry that you’ve made everything worse. You’re there for your father to reassure him, which means first reassuring yourself that A) You love him (which you clearly do), and B) Being there for him is really the only thing that matters. It’ll mean a lot to your dad just to see you: to know that you have the power and the willingness to care for him, after all of the years that he and your mother cared for you. You’re giving them the same boundless love that they gave you. That will not only help assuage (but not eliminate) your collective grief, but it’ll also keep the spirit of your mother alive inside of everyone that she loved while she was here.

I’m sorry if all of that sounded clunky; I personally lack a lot of direct experience with grief. I am an entry-level griever. My parents are still alive. My wife’s parents are still alive. Our siblings are all still alive. My dog is still alive. All of my worst grief has been backloaded to the second half of my life, which is very much a blessing. It’ll hit HARD when it comes, and I already know that I won’t be ready for it, even if I believe that I am. But, as it stands now, I’m still a child in many ways, unscathed by true loss. Grief hasn’t had its way with me, the way it is with Kevin presently. So my advice here comes from a place of deep, deep ignorance.

All I know is that when grief does come for me, I’m gonna hold on as best I can, and I’m gonna keeping on loving those who are both here and gone. That’s all I’ll be able to do, and perhaps all that anyone has to do. So Kevin, I’m giving you advice I’m not at all qualified to give, but I just want you know that you and your father are not alone in your grief, and that I wish you nothing but the best.


The Jets haven’t won the Super Bowl since 1969, and they still treat it like the greatest thing in the world even though 95% of their fan base wasn’t alive at the time. When does old Super Bowl glory start to fade for a fanbase?

I don’t think you’ve painted an accurate portrait of Jets fans here, amigo. No Jets fans I know is bragging about 1969, or posting gifs of Joe Namath holding his finger up as he runs into the tunnel. All of them are fucking miserable, eager to cling to the barest of good news—getting Darrelle Revis back from the Pats, Mark Sanchez making two AFC title games he had no chance of ever winning, a busted Aaron Rodgers coming to town for one last drink of fame—just to get by. That Super Bowl win remains meaningful only to Fireman Ed and to the back page of the New York Post. No one else remembers or cares.

That also goes for the ’85 Bears, and all of the Commanders’ old Super Bowl titles, and all of the Raiders’ old titles, too. All of those teams have NO Super Bowl wins, as far as I’m concerned. If you’re at least two generations removed from your last title, the slate is clean now. You’re not special. You’re just another asshole team. You still have rings to brandish in front of all of the ringless teams like Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, etc., but really, that’s like Clay Travis making fun of Jason Whitlock. No real “winners” in that bunch. Speaking of which…


I've been a Raiders fan since they beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl when I was 10. I started disliking Tom Brady and the Patriots during the Tuck Rule game in 2002 and that dislike steadily grew like a festering boil on my psyche until I eventually realized that I hated the Patriots more than I actually liked the Raiders. It became hard to tell if my hatred was toward Brady (solo) or the Patriots (team), but that question was answered when he left the Pats and I've realized that I now don't hate them nearly as much as I used to. I don't care or think about them at all, while Brady still irks me to no end. And now, of all situations, it looks like Brady will be part owner of the Raiders. It's too late for me to choose a new team. Should I give up on the NFL altogether? 

Not only will Brady be a part-owner of the Raiders soon, but he also might end up being your starting quarterback this season, given that Jimmy Garoppolo has not only proven to be a lemon, but can be released without any cap penalty right now if the Raiders feel like it (and they likely will). It’s one thing to have Brady doing the whole vanity minority owner thing. Every team has a handful of those, and none of them matter. It’s another thing for you to have to actively cheer for your mortal enemy every Sunday.

HOWEVER, I do have some experience on this front. I had to watch Brett Favre join my team after I hated him for years on end, with recent history proving me extremely correct to do so. But you know what? I managed. Every time Favre took a snap for the Vikings, I said to my television, “Now get us a touchdown, you worthless sack of shit.” I was a vicarious dominatrix. I still hated the fucker, but I wasn’t above using him as a means to an end. And goddamn if it didn’t almost (emphasis on “almost” there) work.

That’s what every professional athlete is to every fan, really. You don’t know them. If you ever meet them, it’ll be for 10 polite seconds. The reason you care about them is because they can help your team win. On top of that, you can graft a bunch of other reasons to love them: they make cool plays, they seem nice in real life, they quote Tombstone as often as you do, etc. But the second they start playing like shit, all of that matters a while lot less.

So to you, Joe, I would say there’s no sense in bailing on the Raiders now. You’ve stuck with him through THREE separate relocations, so what difference is a Tom Brady gonna make in the grand scheme of things? If he un-retires, use him for all he’s worth, and then disavow him the second he throws a reckless pick at the end of a conference title game.


If you resurrect one dead snack product what would it be? I’d vote for Doritos Crunch nuts. Those were shockingly grubbin’.

My answer to this question will forever be PB Max. Not only was PB Max incredible, but they sold it in the snack aisle, alongside all of the granola bars and shit. A flawless bit of candy subterfuge. I spend every day hoping PB Max will come back, although it might be a blessing if it never does. I don’t wanna bite into a rebooted PB Max in 2023 and say to myself, “Hey man, this isn’t as good as I remember.” I’ve had that happen before with other foodstuffs, and it’s never fun. Makes you feel like you’re 90.

Email of the week!


I was listening some of my reliable nostalgia tracks and thinking how massive of a decade the 90s were for cellos. True underdog story. Thinking further, does each decade have an obscure instrument in a disproportionate number of pop rock songs? How’s this list:

1960s: Organ

1970s: Tenor Saxophone

1980s: Synth

1990s: Cello

2000s: Mandolin

2010s: Ukulele?

2020s: ?

Let’s go with a harpsichord for this decade. I feel it coming.

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