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The Dreaded Vladimir Radmanovic Comparison, With Patrick Redford

Zion Williamson casts a skeptical look at officials in a New Orleans Pelicans game in October of 2022.
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

It is the custom at Defector not to “rush” our season previews. Everyone is doing them around the same time, for reasons we have never figured out or examined very deeply, which is their prerogative but not really ours. We are not followers by nature, although if you want to be literal about it our previews do tend to “follow” the beginning of the seasons that they are previewing. It was in keeping with that deeply held tradition, and not with the latest trends or “industry best practices,” that Drew and I invited Patrick Redford to join us on the podcast this week to run down a NBA season that has not only already begun, but been going on long enough to have created some delightfully stupid conundrums.

If you want to be more precise about it, we invited our buddy and serial Defector-centric podcast guest Rohan Nadkarni onto the show, but he forgot and was most definitely asleep when we all got together, which meant that Patrick got the experience of getting out of bed on the West Coast, firing up the podcast mic, and then hearing Drew sing the words “hater’s guide” as something like the third or fourth experience of his day. Of the many textual and subtextual treats to be found in this episode, beyond the uh expert basketball analysis on offer from the three of us, is hearing the large coffee that Patrick made himself begin to take effect. There is simply nothing on earth quite like the experience of starting your day by trying to figure out what the hell is going on with Ben Simmons. Presumably.

About that basketball analysis, though. It is axiomatic that we do not necessarily know what we’re talking about, just as a general rule, but also it is entirely too early for anyone to know what they’re talking about. So while most of the basketball portion of the podcast is pointed forward—about the broader Ben Simmons Issue, as well as the question of how messed up the Lakers will be, and just how good the Grizzlies might be, and even how acceptable the Knicks might somehow be—it is also grounded in a preposterous present moment. This is a moment in which the Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards are among the highest-performing teams in the sport, and in which Anthony Davis is, as I (rudely) note, playing like a less sassy Vladimir Radmanovic. Not much of what is happening now is bound to keep happening even into next week. Russell Westbrook is going to keep doing his thing, it seems safe to say, but it is too early to draw much of a conclusion about the rest of it. For that reason, most of this episode is us kind of drawing conclusions about all the stuff I just mentioned.

Most, but not all! We talked about some baseball and the U.S. Men’s National Team’s chances or lack-of-same in the World Cup, at which point the dumb stuff arrived, right on schedule. After a poignantly brief discussion of Oronde Gadsden segued into an even briefer note on Syracuse As Football School, before sliding helplessly into The Funbag. There we found a truly compelling question about watching movies on other people’s screens on airplanes, which gave Drew an opportunity to discuss his anxious experience of watching Inherent Vice on a plane and my attempt to find a healthy way to watch even smallish portions of Baz Luhrmann films. By this point, Patrick was awake. We all were. It was finally basketball season.

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