Issue 80: Who Else Loves a Good Awkward Moment?

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I love a good interview. Heck, I built an entire podcast simply around interviewing business owners, writers, and musicians about their best and worst moments.

But what I love more than a good interview is an interview that goes just a bit off the rails. And basketball certainly offers no shortage of that.

When the bright lights are shining on you and a hot mic is pressed up against your face, how will you react?

Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy Win “Most Awkward Buddy Cop Movie of All-Time” Award

A decade or so ago, the Orlando Magic were one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

They had reached the NBA Finals in 2009 (I even watched some of their games while studying abroad in China — nothing like some 8:30 a.m. basketball to get the blood pumping!) and the Eastern Conference Finals in 2010.

But by 2012, things had started going downhill.

Star center Dwight Howard had told management he wanted then-Magic coach Stan Van Gundy fired. Van Gundy was talking with reporters and acknowledged “people in management” had told him about the situation.

Mere moments after revealing this knowledge, Van Gundy is joined by Howard. First of all, the height juxtaposition is delightful. Secondly, the Magic eventually fired Van Gundy to keep Howard happy, and Howard still opted out of his contract to join the Los Angeles Lakers about three months after the team fired Van Gundy.

This interview is notable for a lot of reasons, especially as it turned Howard from a lovable dork into a WWE-style villain.

However, Van Gundy nervously sipping on his Diet Pepsi is tops for me. And take a look at his Wikipedia page. I can’t say for sure but that looks like a Diet Pepsi can to me. We’re coming full circle!

BuzzFeed breaks the interview down step-by-step below, and you can check out the full thing here.

Kyle Lowry Teaches Math to DeMar DeRozan

Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan were one of my favorite teammate bromances in the NBA. The Raptors traded DeRozan prior to the 2018-19 season (that seems so long ago!) to get Kawhi Leonard.

In retrospect, it turned out to be a great move. The Raptors won a championship in Leonard’s lone season in the 416, then dipped and headed to L.A.

But the move had a ripple effect much bigger than any championship. It ripped apart perhaps the league’s strongest bond.

Lowry and DeRozan had plenty of magical moments on and off the court together. However, none of them top this 30-second exchange after a Raptors practice on January 12, 2016.

DeRozan is trying to explain his success rate, and Lowry quickly gives him a basic lesson in math. The best part of this clip is DeRozan at the very end saying, “I didn’t even go to college that long.”

It’s true — he only spent one year at USC before turning pro.

Russell Westbrook Cannot Believe This Reporter

Russell Westbrook’s relationship with the media has had some tense moments along the way. In fact, this entire email could easily just be clips of him going off on reporters.

Of course, Westbrook is one of the most passionate, hard-nosed players in the league, so none of this is really that surprising. Still, it’s fascinating to see what he’ll let roll off his back versus what he goes and attacks.

And to be fair, when you ask a question like “did the other team win the game or did you guys lose it?” Well…I’m probably going to react the way Westbrook does here.

Allen Iverson Poses a Question or Two About Practice

Allen Iverson’s “practice” interview became legendary because he uttered the word “practice” 22 times in a super short timeframe. “We talkin’ ‘bout practice,” etc. etc.

But in the context of the full interview, it’s less a meme and more a really sad tale about feeling the pressures of being in the league, losing a friend, and a lot of other things that are tough for people to handle.

This is a 30-minute interview (the practice part starts at 7:21) so I wouldn’t expect you to watch it, but it’s another reminder of how easily something serious and sincere can become a meme at the drop of a hat (or, I suppose, at the creation of a piece of content that turns it into a meme).

Taurean Prince, You Genius

This will forever be the funniest thing to me. They won the national championship this year, but Baylor had a few tough tourney exits in the 2010s.

They lost as a higher seed against Georgia State in 2015—complete with Georgia State’s coach falling off a stool in excitement—and got outrebounded against Yale in an upset the following year.

One reporter couldn’t believe that could happen. YALE?! Those nerds could 3D print a basketball and grab it off the top shelf, sure, but to actually do it in real life?

Never mind that Yale was a top-five rebounding team that season. There was no way they should have gotten more boards than the Bears.

Taurean Prince, having just played his final collegiate game, had the perfect response.

Other Reads and Watches

Royce Young: Carmelo Anthony’s resurgence and what it means for young players

Alex Wong: Yuta Watanabe getting dunked on has made him an even bigger star in Japan

Liz Cambridge criticizes the Australian Olympic team photo shoot for being “whitewashed”

Despite being fully vaccinated, Damion Lee still contracted COVID-19

That’s all ’til next time. Thanks for reading!


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