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The NBA Finals At The End Of The World, With Albert Burneko

Devin Booker and Chris Paul high-five at the end of Phoenix's victory in Game 1 of the NBA Finals
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

There is an endless and intractable conflict in our podcast, cyclical and self-reinforcing and stubbornly stuck all the more fast for all our attempts to dislodge it. The crux of it is this—Drew and I and everyone on the broader Defector team enjoys watching and talking about sports and our podcast exists, at least in part and at least in theory, as a venue for talking about the sports we like. But, and this is the crucial complicating factor, we are also total dingbats. Just really distractible and reliably overexcited and prone to pounce on the beam of whatever laser pointer is pointed at the floor in front of us.

This is why virtually every conversation about sports on our podcast arrives encased, corndog-style, in a thick spongy coating of off-topic nonsense and encrusted brain drippings. This week we had Albert Burneko, who watches and knows a lot about basketball and has found it in himself to care about these NBA Finals, onto the podcast to talk about these finals. And we did, sort of, when we weren't just, like, listing things that we like to do at restaurants or getting ourselves all het up about how dysfunctional organizations are permitted to go on failing or talking to each other in tennis chair umpire voices. Perhaps the way to think about this is that you, the listener, get to enjoy a little basketball podcast in the middle of an exceptionally inexpert one about how restaurants are fun.

To be perhaps too fair, this is the sort of finals that tends to push people—even those who are so eager and willing to be pushed—into distraction. So while we had a nice time considering Deandre Ayton's ceiling and retroactively apologizing to Devin Booker and discussing the unlikely but absolutely legitimate rise of the Suns, it makes sense that we kept flipping through other channels. And to be perhaps too honest, the channel-flipping is really the only part of this broader process that I have any real aptitude for, which means that it works out well for me when we pass on breaking down tape in favor of digging deep on the challenges of eating in a "small plates" restaurant and the specific ways in which playing pickup basketball gets depressing as you age out of whatever skills you might once have had. Albert, as it happens, also excels at this, and seemed as earnestly delighted to remember the delightful Natrone Means as he was legitimately furious at having to think about Antawn Jamison during a previous appearance.

And if we were all over the place, it's worth noting that the damn laser pointer we chased was really zooming around. The Funbag was brimming with fragrant chunklets even by the usual standards—about parenting, about umpiring, about the damn Sacramento Kings—and there was some fetid sports media garbage to parse. It was inevitable that we would wind up walking this path. The name of the podcast is what it is. But we neither fell nor were pushed into it. We leapt.

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