What Kyrie Irving Has in Common with the Velvet Underground, and More Takes from the Lords of Basketball Podcasting

Andrew: Hanging out in the Chinatown arcade growing up on Mott Street, I had Street Fighter. Like if someone rolls up with quarters and they were Ryu, I’m like, “Are you serious?” But if someone’s like Zangief, I’m like, “Can we be friends?”

I’m going to ask you some dumb rapid-fire questions to get your takes. First up: Can a team of Kendall Jenner’s ex-boyfriends beat the Bucks in a seven game series?

Andrew: We have a little thing in the book: “The Kardashian blessing.”

Ben: Everyone benefits. Didn’t they save Lamar Odom’s life?

Andrew: He’s one of the heroes of our book.

Ben: He was a brilliant player. You look at Lamar, like six-foot-ten with a wingspan over seven feet. He’d be a small-ball center today, that gives everyone incredible amounts of problems. Instead, he was playing with Kobe, and they used him as a defensive specialist.

Who do you guys think is most likely to be in Kyrie Irving’s group text? Who’s sending him the link that’s like, “Yo, Trump Jr. just tweeted that he’s supporting you.”

Ben: KD might have it on silent mode. But he’s in there.

I don’t think KD looks at his phone except when he’s on Twitter.

Andrew: The lone app on his phone is Twitter.

Ben: At this point, is it just the conspiracy theorists? Is it Andrew Bogut?

Andrew: What if it was just Kanye and Kendrick Lamar. Just like people who are just like, “Don’t mess with that thing out there. We got to keep it in-house, fellas.”

Ben: Kendrick Lamar is a very good call.

I feel like Kyrie is so disorienting this year. I think all the conspiracy stuff up to this point was really artful trolling, but this one is him really digging in, in a weird way.

Andrew: And I don’t know, it’s spiraled out of his control, right? As three people who have been involved in New York, and we are people doing wonderful things and there are skeptics here and there. Like I just saw that Velvet Underground documentary: Those were Kyrie Irvings. A whole bunch of Kyrie Irvings hanging out together. And I celebrate Kyrie because he brings a part of this world into the NBA. And that’s very cool. I think he’s wrong about his vax stance. I think he’s wrong about a ton of stuff, but we can still take care of these people and protect them and live our lives too.

Next question: Did Rich Paul get less or more powerful now that he’s dating Adele?

Andrew: He’s in full power mode. Adele? Respect. I think Adele is such a huge part of my brain. She’s so good, man. She’s maybe one of the best artists of our generation. The whole industry leans on her. And Rich Paul is just one of the biggest up and coming agents the NBA has ever seen, and I love player empowerment. Bow down to Adele.

Ben: I like the idea that he’s doing what we all do in a relationship where he’s like, “Okay, so this Nerlens thing is happening…” And she’s like, “Oh, baby, what is Nerlens doing? Just let it go!”

Andrew: “Again, with the Noel thing!”

Ben: “We’re trying to have a nice dinner and you’re texting.”

An illustration of LaMelo Ball for The Joy of Basketball by Andrew Kuo, 2021.Courtesy of Abrams Image

Last one. For your respective teams, the Knicks and the Sixers, would you rather have LaMelo Ball or Lonzo Ball?

Ben: I’ll take LaMelo all day. I’m a big Lonzo believer, though. Whatever LaVar was doing, whatever his methods were? Holy shit. You have three kids in the NBA, and two of them are basketball geniuses and are going to be the face of creativity in the league for maybe the next decade. He needs to write a really good book.

Andrew: LaVar is one of the great Americans. I love this country and I want every American to be like him: disruptive, thoughtful, caring, and forward thinking. He’s a wonderful human being and an entertainer, and I love him. The answer is LaMelo Ball.

This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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