In a Boardroom crossover event, Rich Kleiman welcomes KD and Eddie Gonzalez, hosts of “The ETCs ,” to discuss all things basketball as the clock expires on the regular season.
On this week’s episode of the “Out of Office” podcast, Rich Kleiman calls in some close friends as he prepares to take in the NBA playoffs. Kevin Durant and Eddie Gonzalez, co-hosts of “The ETCs,” drop in to discuss all things basketball in this very special Boardroom crossover event. Together, they unpack the various mindsets required to breed success, both on and off the court.
The trio takes a deep dive into basketball history, as they look back on some of the peak moments of their journeys as fans of the game, how their favorite players set themselves apart, and who should take home this year’s MVP and All NBA honors. Throughout the discussion, KD reflects on the conclusion of the Brooklyn Nets’ regular season and discusses how he prepares for the postseason (hint: it’s exactly the same way he prepares for the preceding 82 games).
Perhaps one of the 2021-2022 NBA season’s most surprising storylines was the Lakers‘ failure to make the postseason. The Lake Show’s early exit led the trio to discuss how each of them has evolved in the way that he experiences major losses. As Rich points out, it wasn’t until he began to work with athletes that he understood that they were often able to put a heartbreaking loss in the rearview comparatively quickly, while fans may sit with the disappointment for years.
Kevin broke it down further: “You can’t hold on for stuff too long, especially [if the game gets] over at 10:30. … You got a couple [of] hours to really digest what just happened before you try to get ready for the next one. So you learn that pretty early.”
They point to the impact that social media has had on peeling the curtain back on the athletes’ experience. Whereas fans may have previously thought that athletes stewed in the misery of defeat for months on end, social media shows that they oftentimes go on with their lives in a pretty short turnaround. Specifically, there’s the added layer that sports are only one part of the athlete’s identity.
“People with access know that they’re human beings,” Eddie explains.
But the NBA differs from all other leagues, in that its players are among the biggest stars on the planet and the loyalty shown by their fans frequently extends beyond geography. Rich recalls being a diehard Knicks fan as a kid, but when his favorite player, Mark Jackson, got traded, his loyalties followed from Indiana to L.A. and back to Indiana again.
KD, though, called PG County home. The Wizards never really caught his eye when he first started to follow the league in 1997-98. From that point on, his favorite players were always independent of a single team.
“It was a younger league,” he remembers. “T-Mac, Vince [Carter], Kobe, KG. I just liked the young movement in the league. I wasn’t following a team. More so, I was just trying to find highlights of players, you know?”
Durant recalls how watching these players come up in the league inspired the way he approached – and continues to approach – the game.
While there were always inevitable stars, there were also standout players who did so much for the culture of the sport. All three identify Jamal Crawford as one of those guys. His stat-line may not secure him a spot in Springfield, but what he did for the sport debatably should.
When thinking about the players who do it the best, the three sparks a deep conversation about Hall of Fame selection, and what the criteria should potentially include. Should there be a separate wing for the culture? Maybe…
Finally, Rich, Eddie, and KD look back on the regular season and discuss who should take home this year’s MVP award — and the process by which the award is selected.
“We definitely have to vet these people out who are making these decisions,” KD says. “It should be more of a committee that’s dedicated to figuring out [who wins] throughout the whole season. Not following narratives, not following your story. Who’s actually playing the best for these awards. I’m not saying [it should include just] past guys who won it, ’cause that’s gonna be too exclusive, but like, former players that actually hooped out there. Coaches, former executives, people in the industry.”
Regardless of who takes home the title, Joel Embiid is KD’s lock. All NBA, though? He’s got some bigger ideas on that selection process, too:
“It should just be the 15 best players. … Regardless of position. The five best players on the first team, with the rest after that. It shouldn’t even be the best guards or the best forwards. Who cares? Our game is position-less. We all playing like guards and centers and wings, so do away with all of that and then it’ll be easier to figure out who the best 15 are.”
With the Nets safely into the first round after putting away the Cavs in the play-in game, KD’s journey into the playoffs is only beginning. The stakes may be different, but for Durant, his approach to the game is always the same.