If I may, I’d like to take you Inside The Game for a minute. Astute readers of the site will have noticed that this is Rays Week at Defector—four days of blogs about either marine creatures or the foremost asset-management concern in the American League, or by Ray Ratto himself, likely tipped you off to this. The reason we are doing this is manifold, although it can accurately be summed up by the words “brain disease,” but the reason we are doing it this week is that we are in just about the dryest week in the sports calendar. If we had to do Rays Week—and in the fullness of time it is quite clear that we didn’t “have” to do it—we might as well do it at a time when the only stuff getting preempted would be regular season baseball news and long-shot NBA trade rumors.
If you are going to do an inscrutable/obnoxious theme week, this would be the time to do that. But because we were not going to spend the whole podcast talking about Dan Johnson (or Ray Jay Johnson, for that matter), and because there is nothing much going on, we needed an ace guest. We needed MSG Network’s resident NBA and pro wrestling ace Kazeem Famuyide, and after some missed connections before Drew and I went off on our vacations, we finally got him.
After getting our Rays Week business out of the way—our appreciation station for Horny R&B Forrest Gump Ray J was as brief as it should be—we got to the stuff that is actually happening. Which is to say that we got to the things that might conceivably happen in the NBA, possibly, should things begin happening there. The Brooklyn Nets either reimagining themselves entirely or learning to live with two grumpy Hall of Famers? Could happen! The New York Knicks making moves to build a balanced team in an organic fashion instead of doing Knicks Things? Also could happen, although there was the definite sense that we were all trying to manifest that one into being. The Golden State Warriors somehow continuing to get everything right and rolling over their dynasty for another generation? Not easy, but not something any of us were prepared to say wasn’t going to happen. In lieu of anything actually happening, this was all manifestly close enough to get us through a brisk and entertaining half hour of irresponsible speculation, partisan wishcasting, and remembering various basketball teams that once made us happy.
After the break, we talked about pro wrestling for what might well have been the first time on the podcast. All my opinions on wrestling have been formed through years of editing various brilliant and opinionated pro wrestling writers at various different websites, which means that while I have opinions, those opinions are not actually my own and I also don’t completely understand them. Kaz, who worked behind the scenes at WWE and is a true-blue superfan, knows a great deal more than that. He outlined the state of play and critical angles in the ongoing WWE/AEW competition in a way that I found pretty illuminating, to the point that I am considering adopting some of his opinions as my own.
The stupid stuff was the stupid stuff, although it is largely to Kaz’s credit that some breakthrough-adjacent stuff made it in there. A listener question about the fear of heights that comes with scaling the sharply raked, highly vertical upper sections of sports venues led to some deepish thoughts about becoming friends with one’s anxieties; a question about how much longer we, as a nation, are going to want to celebrate our little holidays opened onto an examination of the moment-specific horror of seeing a car with a flag flying from it. One of the last things I said in the episode were the words “hell yeah,” in something like the voice Conner O’Malley used to use when Conner O’Malleyishly confronting sports car owners on video. I will take you Inside The Game again on that one: I meant it.
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