I know that it was not idle and am unsure whether it qualifies as a threat, but it is undeniable that, at the end of this week’s episode, returning champion guest and Sports Illustrated NBA ace Rohan Nadkarni suggested that his next visit to the podcast be devoted entirely to Sandwich Chat. The first third or so of the episode, which was devoted to a discussion of Disgusting Early-20s Evenings and an appreciation of the pioneering and sadly defunct sandwich chain Quiznos, serves as a tantalizing preview of what that future episode might be like. But when we do record that episode—and it is not a question of “if,” as I personally will not rest until there is justice for Quiznos—we will not do it right before the NBA Playoffs start.
This one, however, was recorded right before the NBA Playoffs start, and it’d be a waste to have someone who knows as much and cares as deeply as Rohan on the show and not talk about the Playoffs. And so, once we had established that Quiznos did in fact Have A Pepper Bar, we turned to a preview of the NBA postseason.
The conversation followed the shape of the postseason itself, or anyway it began with a brief and peevish stopover at the play-in tournament before we got to the good stuff. The playoffs are ruled by randomness even under the most normal of circumstances, and as it seems that we as a culture will quite possibly never experience “normal circumstances” again, it fits that this year’s slate feels unusually contingent. We talked about the Suns and Bucks, who are once again extremely good and would make for a satisfying NBA Finals rematch, but we also addressed the various towering unknowns that will determine how all of this is going to shake out, from the Warriors’ attempt to figure out their playoff rotation in the playoffs, to the possibility of the Celtics’ dominance being derailed thanks to a couple of unvaccinated dingbats and Canadian vaccination rules, to the Nets’ attempt to figure out their … well, pretty much everything. Rohan became impassioned about the Miami Heat, which is probably not something that necessarily bears mentioning, but is mentioned here in the same way and for the same reason that certain foodstuffs have that little warning about being packaged in a facility that also processes tree nuts.
It is useful, for the purposes of our podcast and also for maintaining some kind of baseline sanity from one moment to the next, that the NBA is in a decent place right now, and that there are reasons to watch even the teams that seem destined to be also-rans in the playoffs. Thinking about what the Nuggets or Grizzlies might be like as soon as next year, or just about what’s wrong with the Hawks and (especially, hilariously) Jazz, is diverting on its own; I can attest that talking to Rohan about it makes it even more so. But where he shines, and where Drew and I are most at home, is in the dumb stuff. And so, after a brief moment of Guy Remembering appreciation for Eddie Jones and another, unplanned, one for Armando Benitez and the other freely perspiring closers of his era, we were onto the Funbag.
This is the moment when all of us, all of whom know our stuff to varying degrees about the actual sports things we discuss, could turn to what we know best, which is The Experience Of Watching R-Rated Movies With Our Parents. Drew discussed the experience of seeing Boogie Nights with his mom, who mostly liked it; Rohan relived the experience of watching the Neo/Trinity sex scene that blew Roddy White’s mind alongside his dad; I borrowed a friend’s story about a particularly star-crossed screening of Philip Kauffman’s x-tra horny adaptation of the xenophobic Michael Crichton anti-classic Rising Sun. Something powerful was exorcised, for all of us, in this moment. The sports stuff was fun and all, but sometimes you just want to hit the Pepper Bar with your buddies and talk about what really matters.
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