A decade ago, who would have thought that current and former players would be the best analysts and commentators in the NBA? A novel idea, eh? Former players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson’s “All The Smoke” and Gilbert Arenas were early purveyors of player-run podcasts. It’s since evolved to include current players Draymond Green, CJ McCollum, and Patrick Beverley, and former players JJ Redick, Carmelo Anthony, Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson, and Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
With new podcasts popping up every season, these are the current and former players we want to see start their own shows. The selected players were chosen based on entertainment value, insight and bombastic personality, ensuring a must-listen for any hoops head.
Oakley’s 2022 memoir, “The Last Enforcer,” reinforced Oakley’s legacy as a tried-and-true tough guy, a hero of the cheap seats and blue-collar fans. It’s part of why he was well-respected across the league and a defensive force with the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks in the 1980s and ‘90s. Oakley pulled no punches in his book, taking well-deserved shots at Patrick Ewing, Dennis Rodman, and especially Charles Barkley. The NBA’s toughest tough guy needs a platform to roast the soft nature of today’s NBA. Who better to lead the critique of the modern NBA than Oak?
Speaking of the Knicks, after two decades of NBA poverty, New York is finally out of the gutter and approaching the top of the NBA mountain. As a former Knick during the 2000s, Nate Robinson had a front-row seat to the eternal chaos of the franchise during their darkest hours. Specifically the 2005-2006 season, when Larry Brown was hired and subsequently fired as the head coach. Brown and Nate feuded during his short-lived tenure, with Nate later revealing Brown called him “the little sh-t” on a daily basis. On another occasion, Robinson came into Brown’s office, crying, telling his coach to stop demeaning him. Ten minutes later, in front of the team, Brown called Robinson “the little sh-t” again and shared that he had cried. There is no better player to peel back the layers of poverty in the darkest era of Knicks basketball than Nate. To appreciate the present, you have to understand the past.
After a couple of iterations, Arenas has finally found a platform that works for him, as Gil’s Arena brings together other straight-shooters like Kenyon Martin and Brandon Jennings in a hang-out environment where they try to outdo each other with the hottest takes. Arenas has had a long-standing feud with former Wizards teammate Kwame Brown. The two have been crapping on each other with no remorse for a few years, trading video monologues where they torch each other’s playing skills and character. The former No. 1 pick needs his own platform, an upgrade over his “live from his truck” uploads. Give Brown a podcast with a few other No. 1 pick busts (perhaps Anthony Bennet, Michael Olowokandi and Greg Oden) and let the roasting commence.
How badass would it be to see the former Dallas dynamic duo team up again on a podcast, reliving the golden Maverick days, where they haunted the Dallas nightlife scene as much as they haunted the Western Conference, drinking with Mavs fans at Hooters and the now-shuttered The Loon. Dirk and Nash never got to maximize their time together, as owner Mark Cuban was too cheap to pay Nash what he was worth, fearing he was too old and injury-prone. Nash would go on to win two MVP awards with the Phoenix Suns, and Dirk would eventually win a chip in 2011, but the biggest “what if” in Mavericks’ history remains what would have happened had that duo stayed together long-term.
Butler, a jack of all trades, is involved in coffee, commercials, and even a country album. Why not a podcast, too? Butler is one of the NBA’s most riveting and idiosyncratic personalities, as evident in the dreadlocks and emo looks he has sported during the last two media days. His pugnacious vibes would fit perfectly as a media host, providing a counter-balance to the calm and collected personas of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Butler would also be counted on to give no-holds-barred opinions on the state of the NBA and his fellow star competitors. Most importantly, he could give a peek behind the curtain of the elusive “Heat Culture,” a phenomenon often spoken of but barely expounded on the ins and outs of what it means. Butler has been the best example of “Heat Culture ‘’ and is the most qualified to speak on its lore.
Imagine it: Two of the game’s greatest players and the all-time competitive rivals teaming up for the first time since the 1992 Olympics to expound on the game’s history, their respective NBA franchises and the game’s evolution. These two helped dig the lead out of irrelevance and into a league of superstars, reigniting the NBA’s most essential and historical rivalry. A podcast featuring the two would provide a counterpoint to the modern game by having two GOATs pontificate on the disappearance of defense and recalibration of offense. The decades of competition between them would give countless war stories, dating back from the Michigan State and Indiana days, to their team-up on the 1992 Dream Team. After stints in the front offices for the Lakers and Pacers, respectively, both men have retired from executive roles, which would allow them to share their knowledge with fans of the game.
Rodman is the most unique player in NBA history. He was a fashion icon, played pick-up with global dictators, dated some of the most desired women in modern history, and married himself while decked out in a wedding dress. His two memoirs are a must-read for insights into the two dynasties he played for: The Bad Boy Detroit Pistons and the Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls dynasty. Rodman is also one of the best representations of the NBA rags-to-riches story. Growing up in the Dallas Oak Cliff neighborhood and working as a janitor in the DFW airport, Rodman could give vital advice to the NBA journey, preaching the importance of staying true to yourself. Plus, imagine the fashion Rodman would pull off every episode. We could see everyone from Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam (Rodman’s favorite band) to Carmen Electra (his former wife).
There has yet to be an NBA podcast from the European perspective. The international game has caught up with the NBA in many senses. Just look at the list of MVP candidates for the last five seasons and you’ll see the level of international dominance. Marc and Pau are both NBA champions and can speak on playing with some of the greatest of all time: Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, and Kawhi Leonard. The brothers have also competed for the Spanish national team since 2006. They would be able to give insight into the evolution of the European system and player development, while teaching what it takes to win a championship and evolve from being a first option to a role player on a championship squad.
Speaking of family ties, few know, especially younger fans, that Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter are cousins. The two started their careers together North of the border with the Toronto Raptors. McGrady spent the first three seasons of his career coming off the bench before leaving for the Orlando Magic in free agency, where he would blossom into one of the game’s greatest scorers. The two would never team up again (except for a few appearances as correspondents on ESPN’s “The Jump,”), making a co-hosted podcast the perfect reunion. Who wouldn’t want to tune in to two of the greatest one-on-one players and dunkers talk shop on their time in Toronto and the era of wing play during the 2000s?
Who can forget Smith’s iconic 2013 tweet, asking a fan who said she was coming to the game if she was “trying to get the pipe?” Smith could model his pod after what Jeff Teague is doing with his Club 520 show. It’s not his guest stars or brilliant basketball analysis that gets the retweets and viral clips. Instead, it’s his hilarious stories on his time in the league, reminiscing on the smack-talking, locker room fights and controversies he was a part of during his 12-year career. Who better to roast former and current players than the clown prince of hijinks? Smith has his 2016 championship as credence to his legacy, but his off-the-cuff temperament and unpredictability would make this a must-watch.