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The Man Who Loved Dillon Brooks, With Rohan Nadkarni

1:32 PM EDT on March 23, 2023

Dillon Brooks smiling on the floor during a Grizzlies game against the Philadelphia 76ers in February of 2023.
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

As much of a delight as it has always been to have Rohan Nadkarni on the podcast in the past, I always felt a small pang of guilt about it. Rohan is a man who is both one of the best feature writers on basketball and a delightful conversationalist; crucially, he is also willing to return our text messages. That is more or less the perfect podcast guest, even before we get into his (objectively admirable and even heroic) tendency to step up for some of my less-loved or more abstruse tweets. But, until recently, having Rohan on the podcast meant making a bon vivant—a young man with both a dog and a social life—hop on a Zoom call at 8:00 a.m. local time to hear Drew honk "we're back" at seismic volumes. We never regretted it, but it always felt wrong.

But then Rohan moved back to Florida, and there was a bunch of basketball happening—endearingly strange and stupid March Madness stuff and differently strange, differently stupid, much less endearing late-mid season NBA stuff—and there we were. And so here is Rohan, joining us at a less unpleasant local time but with a cold and on a lousy night's sleep. I mention that only because you'd never know from his showing. Rohan was already good at putting up with our shit before he was all the way awake, but give the man an extra few hours of sleep and baby we are in business.

If you want an informed and substantive discussion of the men's NCAA Tournament, I will refer you to last week's episode. This one is more of a vibes-based and free-associative affair, and while it touches upon the bizarre and inexplicable run of success for North Jersey commuter schools in the tournament over the last two years even that is sidetracked pretty quickly—first by me, to talk about (and model) performative New Jersey behavior, and then by Drew and Rohan to get me to stop doing it. Some of the free-floating nature of the conversation owes to it being held between two people who only watch college basketball during the tournament (Drew and Rohan) and someone who watches kind of a lot of college basketball but never really knows what the hell he's talking about (me). But most of it is just us getting comfortable and doing what we do, which is bullshitting about something that we enjoy without really understanding in any meaningful way beyond being aware that we enjoy it. We confuse Steve Lappas and Steve Lavin, which is embarrassing. Rohan talks about doing a debate tournament on the campus of Florida Atlantic University, which looks embarrassing written down like that but which I thought was kind of cool. I briefly do a Jim Boeheim voice at one point, which was neither accurate nor cool in the least.

When the conversation turned to the NBA, everyone was on a bit surer footing. There we discussed the absolutely rancid and miserable discourse surrounding the NBA MVP, and the strange and strangely NFL-style disciplinary odyssey of Ja Morant and the queasy nature of professional sports' ad hoc discipline process. Rohan also staked out the extremely rare position of "enjoying Dillon Brooks's whole thing," which was kind of thrilling. It is not every episode that you get to hear someone you respect say something that you have literally never heard before. And then, after some conversation about beloved bench chuckers of yore and the people that revere them, Rohan had to go.

But this was not the end. Simply because our guest had to dip out didn't mean that we could skimp on the nourishing but dismayingly clammy morsels from the Funbag. Our producer, Eric, joined us to answer the first round of listener voicemails—the number you can call is in the podcast, I simply do not feel that this post is the appropriate venue in which to address it—which addressed two of the more urgent problems currently afflicting our listeners. One of those is the strange New Jersey-only version of a sloppy joe sandwich, which has exactly nothing in common with the sloppy joe sandwich that the rest of the world knows; this, improbably, became an intriguing history lesson on Dutch Halloween-adjacent folkways. The other big issue is "what if your streaming music algorithm/home speaker setup became haunted."

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