Rank #1: D'Angelo Russell
0:55: Being in Los Angeles while not being a member of the Lakers.
1:36: How quickly things changed during his tenure with the Lakers.
2:48: Russell's initial reaction to being traded to the Nets.
3:52: The welcoming culture in Brooklyn.
5:55: What he learned in his first two seasons.
8:16: Playing off the ball last season with the Lakers.
8:56: His relationship with the new Lakers front office, including Magic Johnson.
10:31: Hearing his name in trade talks last season.
13:47: Learning from Rajon Rondo about the importance of confidence.
15:37: The added structure in the Nets organization and the opportunity in front of him.
20:51: Magic Johnson's comments questioning his leadership.
21:48: The pressure of playing under the spotlight in Los Angeles.
23:25: Moving to the Eastern Conference and getting away from the loaded West.
25:20: Thad Matta's exit from Ohio State.
28:00: The depth at the point guard position across the league.
Jul 26 2017
Rank #2: Chris Herren joins The Vertical Podcast
Here are some key moments:
2:00: How Chris' drug addiction impacted his college career and the roots of his struggles.
4:43: The environment at Fresno, which enabled his behavior.
7:37: His rookie season in Denver and the veterans that tried helping him
9:02: Would his issues have spiraled out of control if he hadn't been on his hometown Boston Celtics?
11:25: Playing overseas and his addiction getting worse
18:42: The end of his basketball career and returning to Fall River
22:38: Overdosing, crashing his car, going to rehab and relapsing.
29:26: His wife's role in keeping their children away during his struggles.
35:07: His profound impact on high school and college students from his speaking appearances.
41:20: Keeping the sincerity in his speech each time.
44:27: Breaking the ice at the NFL rookie symposium.
47:26: His no-nonsense approach during his speeches.
50:03: The Herren Project helping people afford rehab.
53:36: His son's burgeoning basketball career and the pressure he will face.
58:41: How the people that saw him at his lowest view his recovery.
1:02:22: The pressure of trying to help as many people as he can.
May 25 2016
Rank #3: Golden State's Steph Curry
2:22: The Curry brothers both deciding to participate in the three-point contest in Charlotte.
4:11: 'Emanuel,' the new movie from Curry's production company about the 2015 mass shooting in Charleston.
7:02: What role did Curry play in the movie as an executive producer?
8:10: Placing purpose over profits with his production company.
10:40: The endless cycle of mass shootings in the United States.
14:07: Finding happiness in the process of working on his jump shot and pursuing perfection.
18:27: The craziest place he's ever gone to get shots up.
20:27: How the shift from pick-up basketball to organized games impacts the creativity of young players.
22:58: Curry's impact on the younger generation in terms of how they view three-pointers.
24:53: The natural progression that led to him shooting from far behind the three-point line.
25:56: The calmness that surrounds Curry on and off the court.
28:43: How growing up around the NBA helps Curry deal with the day-to-day drama that every team battles.
30:45: The November blowup between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, and how the Warriors moved past it.
32:54: Steve Kerr's unique perspective as the Warriors chase a 3-peat.
34:42: Prioritizing winning above all as evidenced by recruiting Durant in 2016.
38:24: The discipline to keep individual frustrations to yourself.
42:17: The Warriors focusing on the current season, and not worrying about Durant's pending free agency.
47:02: The transformation of the Warriors organization since Curry's rookie season.
Jan 26 2019
Rank #4: Golden State's Klay Thompson
1:45: The Three-Point Contest being easy for Thompson.
2:28: Thompson's initial expectations for his career upon entering the league.
4:22: How Golden State's team culture helped Thompson develop.
5:53: Stephen Curry's willingness to share the spotlight with his teammates.
7:35: Thompson's 41-point performance in Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals playing a pivotal role in eventually signing Kevin Durant.
9:26: Thompson's ability to focus on the next shot as inspired by Kobe Bryant.
10:40: Thompson's 2019 free agency and his hopes to stay with the Warriors.
11:43: The Warriors needing players to take slightly less than their market value to keep their core together.
14:14: The Rockets pushing the Warriors to keep their focus.
16:02: Could Thompson exceed his 60-point performance some day?
17:48: The benefits of having a father that played in the NBA.
19:18: The quietness of Thompson, Curry and Durant being balanced out by Draymond Green's huge personality.
22:40: Playing in the 2016 Olympics and hoping to play for Team USA in 2020.
Feb 16 2018
Rank #5: Erik Spoelstra joins Woj
Here are some key moments:
3:28: The team's resilience after an 11-30 start to the season and lessons from this year's team.
9:05: The organization's decision to not tank this year.
12:04: How the perception of Spoelstra differs from when he had the Big 3.
14:33: Learning from other coaches like Chip Kelly and Pete Carroll while maintaining the Heat's culture.
18:33: David Fizdale's success in his first-year as Grizzlies coach.
24:08: How his father's career as a marketer exposed him to innovative thinking.
31:05: Growing up around NBA players and later recognizing his own limitations as a player.
36:48: Being on the court when Hank Gathers died on March 4, 1990.
43:00: His professional playing career in Germany and the expectations for an American player to be a big-time scorer.
49:09: His expectations when he started with the Heat in the video room.
57:23: The point Spoelstra realized he could become a head coach in the NBA.
1:00:41: The pressures of replacing Riley on the bench.
1:06:41: How Riley empowered him to help shape the team's culture.
1:13:19: His first reaction when the Big 3 formed in Miami and the team's first training camp together.
1:16:35: How Spoelstra's relationship with Wade helped during the early days of the Big 3.
1:22:44: The intense scrutiny surrounding the team's 9-8 start in 2010.
1:29:17: Losing in the 2011 Finals to the Mavericks following the emotional season.
1:34:16: Blocking out the criticism to enjoy the experience of coaching the Big 3.
1:43:16: Spoelstra's ambition to eventually run an organization himself.
Apr 28 2017
Rank #6: NCAA Tournament and NBA Draft with Jonathan Givony
Here are some key moments:
1:15: Potential first-round upsets, including Florida Gulf Coast against Florida State.
6:00: The various factors that impact March Madness performance.
8:57: Villanova's unique roster in the one-and-done age.
12:00: Kentucky and Duke having the most NBA talent, including Jayson Tatum's standout ACC tournament.
16:29: Frank Jackson finding his footing late in the season for Duke.
18:37: The high number of first-round picks that spend time in the D-League.
23:16: Dennis Smith not benefitting from his season at North Carolina State.
27:17: Lonzo Ball's opportunity to capitalize on the March Madness stage.
29:22: Do teams still overvalue breakout performances in the NCAA tournament?
35:00: Real Madrid point guard Luka Doncic emerging as an early favorite to be the No. 1 pick in 2018.
38:33: Other players capable of being the No. 1 pick in 2018.
Mar 15 2017
Rank #7: Jerry Krause joins Woj
Here are some key moments:
1:50: Krause's health preventing him from scouting for the past few years.
3:57: Scouting at a high level in basketball and baseball.
6:30: How Theo Epstein's overhaul of the Cubs led to a World Series title.
8:47: The benefits of scouting two sports.
13:31: What he learned about scouting from Hall of Fame coach Red Holzman.
14:51: Discovering Earl Monroe before he was on the national radar.
18:17: The Suns nearly hiring a young Bobby Knight in the 1970s.
21:17: Transitioning from being a scout to general manager of the Bulls.
25:44: Wanting Jordan to not play after he broke his foot and the divide it caused between him and the front office.
32:23: Drafting Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant in 1987.
38:16: Identifying Pippen as a playmaker to complement Jordan.
45:33: Jordan challenging the mental toughness of his teammates.
46:51: The difficult decision to replace Doug Collins with Phil Jackson.
54:53: How the Bulls came to run the triangle offense.
58:10: Negotiating with Celtics president Red Auerbach.
1:01:03: Jackson portraying Krause and the front office as the team's enemy.
1:03:49: How he learned about Jordan's first retirement and his improvement as a baseball player.
1:07:37: Building the Bulls for their second three-peat.
1:14:49: Jordan and Pippen disliking Krause's pursuit of Toni Kukoc.
1:16:39: The end of the Bulls dynasty.
1:23:27: Where the Bulls rank among the NBA's greatest teams and dynasties.
1:27:05: Being a finalist for the Hall of Fame this year and what it would mean for Krause.
"Dumars talks about his desire to work as an NBA GM again, what he's learned away from the front office grind and how he'd approach a new challenge. Dumars also talks about his affection for Pistons coach Chuck Daly, his childhood in rural Louisiana and a teenage AAU team that included Dumars, Karl Malone, Benny Anders and Benoit Benjamin.
Feb 01 2017
Rank #8: Ian O'Connor on "Belichick"
1:40: Declaring Belichick as the greatest football coach ever in the book's title.
4:20: How the reporting for this book compared to O'Connor's previous book about Derek Jeter.
9:12: The difficulty of writing a book about Belichick without knowing how receptive he'd be to it.
13:08: Belichick learning the game and how to break down film from his father.
18:26: How Belichick learned to bring people from different backgrounds together to build a team.
23:22: Belichick not sitting for an interview for the book, and what O'Connor would have asked him, including Spygate and Bill Parcells.
29:42: The complexities and evolution of Belichick's leadership style.
34:07: The parallels between Belichick and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
41:29: The fragility of the Patriots dynasty becoming more public over the last year, including the strain on the Belichick-Brady relationship.
49:00: Popovich's relationship with Tim Duncan having ups and downs like Belichick's with Brady.
52:53: Patriots owner Robert Kraft's relationships with Belichick and Brady.
57:05: The pressure on Josh McDaniels if he does eventually succeed Belichick.
Sep 20 2018
Rank #9: Draymond Green joins Woj
Here are some key moments:
2:51: Green being a natural fit for the Oakland Raiders.
4:19: Playing in the Green-White football game at Michigan State and Tom Izzo's excitement for him playing.
9:42: The reaction of NFL players to the guaranteed contracts signed by NBA players last summer.
12:57: The flawed logic of why college athletes aren't paid.
18:31: The Warriors' strong start after adding Kevin Durant, including the value of losing on opening night to the Spurs.
21:49: Green's pursuit of the Defensive Player of the Year award
27:00: How much of being a great defensive player is mental?
30:48: Green's role as the emotional leader of the Warriors and finding the right balance of how far to push the envelope.
38:13: How long did the Finals loss sting?
39:50: Green's reaction to Durant's free agency decision to join the Warriors.
42:44: Green's recruitment of Durant throughout last season and over the summer.
45:26: The power NBA players have to decide where they play and form super teams.
47:10: Green's role diminishing over the course of the Rio Olympics.
Nov 21 2016
Rank #10: Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell
1:38: The whirlwind of the last two months for Mitchell, including leading Utah's playoff run.
2:52: How much has changed for Mitchell after being doubtful whether he should turn pro last year.
3:58: The Jazz going on a phenomenal run once Rudy Gobert returned from injury
5:01: Mitchell's relationship with Jazz coach Quin Snyder, who gave him more responsibilities throughout the season.
8:21: Leaving Louisville before the program became entangled in controversy.
9:03: Mitchell's Jazz teammates helping him in his transition to stardom.
10:43: Learning the responsibilities of being a star player, including the ferocity and energy it requires each game.
16:53: The Jazz not thinking about rebuilding after losing Gordon Hayward.
18:22: What Mitchell learned from growing up around the Mets clubhouse about how young players should interact with veterans.
19:56: Attending Greenwich Country Day School and the benefits of being a late bloomer on the court.
23:21: Going to the EuroLeague playoffs in Serbia and seeing how much the entire country loves the sport.
26:48: Mitchell emulating the mentalities of Kobe Bryant and Russell Westbrook.
29:46: With Mitchell and Gobert in place, the Jazz being an attractive destination for free agents looking to win.
31:46: Staying the same person after achieving success.
33:25: The adidas sweatshirts trolling Ben Simmons and his Rookie of the Year candidacy.
38:19: Other players being willing to answer Mitchell's questions about the league.
Jun 07 2018
Rank #11: Ryen Russillo
1:57: Russillo's move to Los Angeles
5:57: His pick-up game, and Steph Curry's impact on young players.
9:44: The massive summer of 2019 in free agency, starting with Kawhi Leonard.
15:02: The Lakers not trading for Leonard after missing out on Paul George in a similar situation.
17:51: How the Clippers are setting themselves up to pursue Leonard.
19:54: The cast of characters the Lakers added this summer to surround LeBron James.
25:38: Questions surrounding Kyrie Irving's future with the Celtics even though the team is set up so well for the future.
28:13: The Knicks being in position to land an impact player in 2019.
29:08: The long list of star players who can enter free agency next summer.
32:10: How the rising salary cap has outweighed league rules that try to limit player movement in free agency.
39:26: NBA players carrying power in a way we've never seen in professional sports.
42:45: How player movement makes the NBA offseason an event by itself.
45:42: The added importance of drafting well in the modern NBA.
47:48: The Thunder trading for Dennis Schroder when many thought they would need to waive Carmelo Anthony.
50:20: Are NBA teams in favor changing the age limit?
52:41: NBA owners wanting to get talented young players into the G League.
Aug 27 2018
Rank #12: KG edition of The Vertical Podcast with Woj: Brian Scalabrine remembers Kevin Garnett
Here are some key moments:
1:38: Imagining the NBA without Garnett.
2:54: The atmosphere in the Celtics locker room the season before Garnett's arrival.
5:05: The immediate impact Garnett made on the team's culture.
7:38: The intense debates between Garnett and Scalabrine about the best players of all time.
9:02: The initial pushback from the Big 3 against Tom Thibodeau's defense.
12:24: Which types of players did Garnett try to intimidate the most?
14:26: Garnett and Pierce knowing how to get under the skin of opponents.
18:13: Garnett's trash talk against Dwight Howard in the 2009 playoffs.
20:18: His ability to play through injuries, particularly the 2008 Finals.
22:27: Where does Garnett's legendary work ethic come from?
25:25: The veteran leadership Garnett benefitted from as a rookie in Minnesota.
30:34: What role will best suit Garnett in his post-playing days?
Sep 23 2016
Rank #13: Mike D'Antoni joins The Vertical Podcast
Here are some key moments:
0:58: Duncan's retirement and the year D'Antoni spent with the Spurs.
4:33: How D'Antoni's Suns prepared to face Duncan in the playoffs.
5:57: A revealing story about Duncan's leadership behind the scenes.
7:22: The motivation behind D'Antoni's return to the NBA as an assistant with the 76ers.
10:12: D'Antoni's hopes and plans for his partnership with Harden.
13:56: Lessons learned from working with star players after leaving the Suns.
17:38: How much resentment did Knicks teammates have during Jeremy Lin's breakout stretch in 2012?
21:28: The origins of the Seven Seconds or Less offense in Phoenix.
26:56: D'Antoni's wavering confidence as a player before going to Italy.
29:04: The start of his head-coaching career in Italy, featuring Bob McAdoo and Darryl Dawkins.
33:54: Growing up in West Virginia and admiring Jerry West.
36:15: Attending Marshall when the football team's plane crashed.
40:18: Nearly accepting the Marshall head-coaching job before his brother was hired.
41:54: The end of his tenure in Phoenix.
45:40: D'Antoni's negotiations with the Bulls before taking over the Knicks.
48:29: His goals with the Rockets.
Jul 12 2016
Rank #14: Lakers forward Julius Randle
May 21 2018
Rank #15: Nick DePaula, The Vertical's shoe insider
Here are some key moments:
0:47: Iverson's continued relevance in the sneaker industry five years after he last played in the league.
3:41: Iverson's role as perhaps the greatest sneaker salesman in the NBA outside of Michael Jordan.
5:39: The trust into which Reebok put a large share of Iverson's earnings.
7:05: The two signature moments that Reebok capitalized on the most.
8:57: How Iverson's height and lifestyle made him relatable to the casual fan.
10:39: Reebok embracing Iverson's personality and authenticity.
12:57: How Iverson and Kobe Bryant resonated differently in Philadelphia.
17:41: Could Iverson have a second wind as an endorser?
19:38: O'Neal disproving the idea that big men couldn't sell shoes.
22:12: The financial impact of O'Neal's move to Los Angeles.
23:25: O'Neal designing his own signature logo while in college.
26:20: Yao opening the Asian market to NBA stars.
29:22: The trend of NBA players signing deals with Chinese shoe companies.
32:32: The cumulative impact of this year's Hall of Fame class on the sneaker industry.
Sep 07 2016
Rank #16: Lonzo Ball
Lonzo Ball joins the Woj Pod to discuss joining the Pelicans, leaving the Lakers, Ball family matters, throwing lobs to Zion and how he's taken full control of his professional life.
Sep 27 2019
Rank #17: Julius Randle joins Woj
Feb 08 2017
Rank #18: Mike Budenholzer
1:48: How much different is Budenholzer's approach to his second head-coaching job?
3:29: Learning about Giannis Antetokounmpo's tremendous work ethic.
5:47: The uniqueness of Antetokounmpo's skillset and the appeal of coaching him.
8:41: The stressful situations that come with being a first-time head coach.
10:58: Reflecting on his 5-year tenure with the Hawks, including the 60-win season.
14:10: Danny Ferry's role building the Hawks and his qualifications for another front-office job.
16:54: Losing Al Horford in free agency in 2016 and bringing in Dwight Howard.
18:55: The difficulty of balancing the short- and long-term while being both coach and team president.
23:06: What Budenholzer learned from Gregg Popovich about holding multiple titles.
25:42: The importance of alignment between ownership and the front office.
28:34: Growing up as the son of a successful coach and the value of playing multiple sports.
34:34: Starting in the video room for the Spurs and developing his own voice as a coach.
39:57: What role do coaches have in motivating players?
41:13: Staying in the Eastern Conference and the opening presented by LeBron James going to the West.
42:45: How James single-handedly challenges opposing teams in the playoffs.
Jul 11 2018
Rank #19: David Fizdale joins Woj
Here are some key moments:
1:57: Only being able to fully understand a head coach's job when you become a head coach.
3:33: The importance of building relationships with young players.
4:45: Taking over a team with an established identity, while implementing his own style.
6:40: Succeeding during Mike Conley's absence.
8:03: What Fizdale learned while being a video intern for the Heat alongside Erik Spoelstra.
11:08: How the Heat coaches established a relationship with LeBron James and Pat Riley's support of them.
17:44: How Fizdale was viewed as an assistant league-wide.
21:50: The perception and stereotypes African-American assistant coaches face.
27:52: How growing up in South Central Los Angeles shaped his view on relationships.
33:27: The volatility of growing up in South Central.
36:22: Seeing the Rodney King riots first-hand.
39:30: How drugs changed the relationship between police and African-Americans.
45:13: The need for common-sense gun laws, including background checks.
48:11: The NBA empowering players and coaches to make political stands.
51:20: Visiting the White House with the Heat during President Barack Obama's tenure.
Dec 16 2016
Rank #20: ESPN's Bobby Marks: LeBron James, the Lakers and Kawhi Leonard
2:06: The Lakers signing Lance Stephenson, who has only had success playing for the Pacers.
4:37: James wanting to surround himself with high IQ players.
6:07: Luke Walton facing a challenge with the new-look roster next season.
9:30: The belief that news of Lonzo Ball's knee injury was leaked to try and prevent his inclusion in trade talks.
12:43: The difficult pathway to a Kawhi Leonard trade for the Lakers, and how the Spurs handle trade offers.
18:07: The low returns in trades for All-Star players over the last few years after reaching an apex with the Carmelo Anthony trade in 2011.
20:51: Teams not getting an advantage by offering an extra year to their players in free agency.
23:51: How much additional value does Kawhi Leonard have from a marketing standpoint if he lands in Los Angeles?
25:02: The Clippers losing appeal to Leonard because of James signing with the Lakers.
26:17: How much leverage do the Spurs have in Leonard negotiations and when should they make a move?
27:17: The weight of the Leonard drama on the Spurs organization.
28:37: Teams being worried about Leonard's health.
Jul 04 2018