The UNINTERRUPTED network debuts a new podcast on Friday co-hosted by Los Angeles Sparks star and ESPN NBA analyst Chiney Ogwumike, NBA cult hero Nick Young, and actor Sarunas Jackson called “Certified Buckets.” Dime spoke with Ogwumike and Young individually to discuss why they wanted to start a podcast, what excites them about this upcoming NBA season, and the battle for Los Angeles between the Lakers and the Clippers.
Why did you want to start a podcast? What do you think you can provide that sets you apart from the other basketball content?
OGWUMIKE: I think just by being with ESPN and being an NBA analyst and having a national television platform, I’ve been able to break down the game analytically and give out opinions. But, like, basketball at its core is a friend/family just vibe type of thing where you’re watching the game at home and you’re kicking it, and thats why we love hoops. You get into debates, we talk about pop culture, we talk about fashion.
This is what the podcast brings — an element to the side of basketball that I haven’t been able to tap into yet just because I haven’t had that opportunity. We teamed up with Nick and Sarunas, and just to talk hoops as hoopers is the most authentic way to talk basketball, so I’m excited for that angle.
YOUNG: Tired of being at home, just being bored because I was out of the league.
I assume you probably had your pick of places that would want to host a Chiney Ogwumike podcast. Why choose UNINTERRUPTED?
OGWUMIKE: People don’t actually probably know that I was one of the first athletes that met with UNINTERRUPTED and partnered with UNINTERRUPTED back when they just launched. As my career has sort of grown, I think UNINTERRUPTED sort of gave me that platform to speak as an athlete and sort of get a nice network of athletes where we can share our own voices and support each other. So it’s just one of those things where UNINTERRUPTED and myself have been on our own journeys, and we have all grown, and this is just a perfect circling back point where we can work together as a team again.
It’s funny, I can’t think of two players whose games are less alike than Chiney Ogwumike and Nick Young. But personality-wise, how has the partnership been so far? What is that dynamic like?
— Certified Buckets (@CertifiedBckts) October 17, 2019
OGWUMIKE: Don’t ever tell him I told you, but I really, really like Nick Young. He considers himself the most hated, but he’s actually just a sweetheart, and he has probably the most unique basketball point of view I’ve ever met outside of watching Shaq talk on TV. He has some of the most interesting takes, and I’m like, “What did you just say?”
But he comes with this authenticity and he’s just this genuine human being. He’s himself, and he’s not afraid to be goofy, he’s not afraid to speak his mind. The thing is he’s so chill, I feel like working with him I’m sort of the opposite of that, his personality is sort of the opposite which makes this team dynamic really exciting, so it’s going to be fun.
YOUNG: Chiney’s been doing this analyst stuff for a while, she’s been on ESPN. I think it will be great for me to just be around that, especially because I do want to do that kind of stuff, broadcast, commentary, do it all.
Heading into the season, what one NBA storyline are you most excited about?
YOUNG: Just seeing the Warriors to see how they bounce back, see where their heads at. I want to see if they can make the eighth seed. People are counting them out.
OGWUMIKE: The city of L.A. Who’s going to win the battle of L.A.? Because technically if you win the battle of L.A., you’re likely to probably be champions in the NBA. Just being a Spark, understanding the hype that’s coming in, the star power. Literally the Finals MVP of the defending champs, their best player is now in L.A. against the guy who we consider to be the modern greatest in LeBron. Both teams are amazing, both got even more additions. You’ve got Paul George and AD. This city is going to be crazy, so just following the basketball energy that Los Angeles brings, to me, is going to be really fun.
Have you felt that energy being in Los Angeles over the summer?
OGWUMIKE: Oh yeah, being a player here now, I know what it’s like to have to deal with the pressures of being in Los Angeles, it’s just different. You go on the road and it doesn’t matter who you’re playing, they’re chanting “Beat L.A.” It’s just like you have a target on your back, and that pressure either makes you want to cower or it will reveal your best self. So I think the people you see having success here, whether its Hollywood and acting or musicians and artists or athletes, are the people that can take that spotlight and do something with it. It’s kinda cool because I think at the core of this podcast, that’s the lifestyle, the culture that we’re trying to tap into.
Nick, as someone who has played for both the Lakers and the Clippers, do you think there is a real chance for the Clippers to convert Lakers fans?
YOUNG: I think if they win a championship, that will bring some bandwagons. They gotta win more than one championship to take over a city. Too much culture.
After everything that’s happened with the Lakers recently, is being a Laker still something special for this generation of NBA players?
YOUNG: For sure. I mean, the history, people know when you come to L.A., it’s always going to be a Laker town unless the Clippers win like five in a row.
Putting on that jersey, that still means something?
YOUNG: For sure, it’s always going to mean something. You’ve got Magic, Kobe, every generation there’s somebody here.
Who do you think will be the better team this season?
YOUNG: Not sure, depends on who gets hurt first.
Chiney, I know you grew up a Rockets fan. Do you have any specific thoughts on the Russell Westbrook/James Harden pairing?
OGWUMIKE: Oh I’m here for this, I am absolutely here for this. My analyst answer to further that is just that the Rockets, they didn’t lose any of their key pieces. I know Chris Paul is gone, but you got younger and more dynamic at that off ball position, and then you maintain your shooters. I know Gerald Green being out for a while will hurt them, but you still have Eric Gordon. You still have Clint Capela – Capela if he stays healthy and plays to his real potential, he was a sleeper for the All-Star game last year, so they have a lot of really good pieces, plus Russell Westbrook who has a friendship with James. So yeah, I think it could work. It could definitely work.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.