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The Art Of Aging Gracelessly, With Ray Ratto

Dwight Howard grimacing Dwight Howardishly next to the Distraction logo.
Harry How/Getty Images

In time, the NBA season will begin narrowing and shedding, and continue doing so until only very good and very lucky teams are left. At some point after that, there will be just one team, and they will pass around a trophy and have a parade. By that point, most everyone will be a little bit sick of them. That team will have earned their championship and whatever gaudy rings they get, but they will be, in the way that most champions are, exhausting. Whichever team that winds up being, they will surely be talked about enough by the time everything is said and done.

For that reason, or for that reason plus our native tendencies to talk about things that are weird and bad instead of inspiring and great, Drew and Ray and I did not talk about any of those teams this week.

Instead we talked, like the garbage connoisseurs we are, about the teams and things that are maddening and strange and kind of grimly funny in the NBA. This includes the Warriors, who absolutely could be one of those last remaining great teams but are currently trying and mostly failing just to get a majority of their centerpiece stars onto the floor together. It also includes the Lakers, who absolutely will not be one of the last remaining teams, but exist as a sort of lurid cautionary tale concerning aging gracelessly, not knowing one’s limitations, and adopting The Daniel Snyder Style Of Team Construction. The tragicomic case of Russell Westbrook is considered in some detail, and I engage in some mild Carmelo Anthony rehabilitation. Ray was mostly not having that, but also that is just how he is.

Before we got to the dumb stuff at the back end of the podcast, though, we talked about some other, different dumb stuff. More specifically, we discussed how Major League Baseball being back, while certainly better than it remaining in locked-out cryosleep, also means MLB-style bullshit is also back. This is a big country of cheesy, chiseling behavior, with teams steering into shamefully open-ended tank jobs, or mealy-mouthing their way through plausibly deniable ones, and otherwise acting in the sorts of ways that they acted during the bad old days of the last collective bargaining agreement. We covered all of this and I was able to guess that Drew was thinking about Dave Hollins based on only a brief description of the guy he was thinking about.

It is, I think, the mark of a successful episode that the process of opening the Funbag blended rather seamlessly with the conversation that preceded it. A question about the best time to attend a baseball game—the answer is so self-evident that I don’t imagine it’s spoiling anything to say that it’s a weekday afternoon game—joined elegantly with our baseball talk, and segued nicely into the overriding theme of the podcast, which is getting older and taking naps. A question about the best and worst ways to shorten a given team’s name allowed me to refer to the Quebec Nordiques as the ‘Diques, which is all I ever really want to do on here. Champions will rise, and we’ll get to that. For now, we are going to keep celebrating an equilibrium that verges on entropy.

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