In just two short years, the Los Angeles Clippers have closed the book on the Lob City era and hit the turbo boosters on the next phase of their evolution. The flawed but scrappy group they pieced together last season became the early darlings of the playoffs when they pushed the Warriors to six games, then followed that up by staging the biggest coup of the summer in landing both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Now, they have a championship in their sights.
This is just the latest iteration of a franchise that’s undergone multiple transformations over the past two decades. With Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers were one of the NBA’s hottest tickets, churning out highlights on a nightly basis but ultimately falling short of their goal of competing for a title.
But long before Lob City put L.A.’s second team on the map, an even earlier prototype made up of Darius Miles, Quentin Richardson, Corey Maggette, and Lamar Odom set the NBA on fire at the turn off the century and cleared the way for successive generations. That squad never had a chance to reach their full potential, but the flair and excitement they brought was undeniable, and it still lingers to this day.
Those guys are all retired now, but two of the central figures, best known as “Q” and “D-Miles,” have brought that love for the game and their insider knowledge of the NBA to their hit Players’ Tribune podcast, “Knuckleheads” (a nod to their signature celebration). They’ve had everyone from Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant, to Gary Payton and Allen Iverson, with each conversation offering a unique and intimate look into the lives and careers of the league’s most compelling stars.
We caught up with them recently to talk about the pod, their former team, who their dream guests are, and just how much the league has evolved.
Almost from the start, you guys seemed like naturals at this whole podcasting thing. Darius, you’ve said before that you were a little reluctant at first, that you didn’t like being in front of a microphone. What is it that makes you guys so comfortable in this platform and able to create such a natural environment? Did that just come from being such long-time friends, or what do you do to maintain that laid-back vibe?
Darius Miles: For me, it definitely sets the tone for that. I just know I have to do something uncomfortable to start opening up, like coming out the box, just trying to do new things. That’s what it is for me.
Quentin Richardson: Yeah, man, I think that us doing it together absolutely gives us a comfort zone right off the bat. It’s just me and him doing it. It’s our show, and that whole part of it, that aspect of it, that gave us a comfort zone, what the vibe with the players should be on there, and knowing who we were working with, and this was going to be all for the players. That was what our relationship was based on. That made it a lot easier, as well.
Are you guys podcast junkies? What are some of your favorites?
QR: To be honest with you, man, before we started doing this, I didn’t even really know what podcasts were. I was not into them like that. I had did like that little, I guess you would call it, a trial run with the Players’ Tribune during the Finals, or with doing some stuff with Jared Jeffries and Al Harrington. Outside of that, man, I was unaware there were so many of them. I didn’t have a clue that it was that big of a deal. I didn’t even notice the icon on the iPhone. Me and Darius were like, what if we’re going to suck at it? We weren’t up on the podcast game like that at all.
With the Players’ Tribune, you have both audio and video. Do you like having that video component as well?
QR: Yeah, I think that’s important, for us and for our viewers to get to see. It’s more like a glimpse into, you can just see some of the reaction and stuff like that that don’t really come across all the time on audio. I think for them to get a chance to see a lot of that just ties everything in with culture, seeing what the guests maybe are wearing or whatever shoes and all those little different things like that. Kind of ties it all into what we’re trying to bring to the table.