It’s been a year of NBA players embracing creating and owning their own media. The Orlando Bubble saw a proliferation of podcasts and YouTube channels and the pandemic had bored players looking to live videos on their social platforms, hosting anything from talent contests to wine tastings. And as the summer of 2020 erupted in necessary protest and set a spotlight on social justice, player media echoed and supported the same sentiment being shouted in the streets.
Beyond28, a podcast created by the Warriors, sponsored by JPMorgan Chase and Goodby Silverstein & Partners (GS&P), and produced by Audio Up Media, is a new and necessary example of a team following in the footsteps of its players.
The Warriors launched their Beyond28 initiative in February 2020 to celebrate Black History Month, but largely to look beyond it. The premise of the platform is to stress that the recognition and celebration of Black culture should not be limited to one month per yer, and features player-led vignettes, interviews, and panel discussions, as well as spotlights on Black artists, culture drivers, and creators.
“We launched the Beyond28 platform last year, before the world set on fire,” Amanda Chin, Warriors VP of Brand Marketing, recalls over the phone with the levity needed to look back on the last 12 months. “When we came back to the table to talk about the importance of what we’re doing and how to approach it moving forward, to create the maximum amount of impact, the idea of a podcast really stuck because it gave us this vehicle to continue the dialogue recognizing the joy and the adversity the Black community faces, day in and day out.”
With the growing prevalence of audio as a preferred medium to tell intimate and inspiring stories, the podcast was in some ways the next logical step for the Warriors, Chin says.
Bay Area natives will recognize the voice anchoring the podcast, ESPN’s The Undefeated writer Marc J. Spears, who worked with Beyond28 last June, hosting a Father’s Day panel about growing up Black in America. Chin says when they started thinking about a host for the podcast, Spears’ name naturally came up.
Starting on Wednesday, April 21, the podcast will premiere across all audio streaming platforms, and a new episode will be released every month over a 12-month period. Episodes will have a wide range of topics, but each one-hour show aims to celebrate Black culture and community through the lens of a specific theme, featuring an array of artists, activists, community members and of course, Warriors players.
“The players have been very embracing of the initiative,” Chin says, “A lot of Beyond28 was really inspired by the players. Back when Andre Iguodala was on our team he was quoted saying that he doesn’t celebrate Black History Month, he celebrates Black History year round. In a lot of ways, that was the impetus for this actually coming to life.”
Already, the Beyond28 podcast has inspired other teams, including the 76ers, to reach out to the Warriors for best practices in launching similar initiatives of their own. As a franchise-driven program, the podcast is unique, and with fans hungry for new and meaningful ways to connect with their teams and favorite players, more NBA teams testing out podcasts as a platform to deliver seems the next natural trend.
“It’s great to see it catching traction across the league, and hopefully across sports and in other businesses as well,” Chin agrees.
As for longterm goals for the podcast, the focus is on spending “the next year delivering interesting content on the topic and hopefully reaching out to as many people as possible”.
“If all goes well we’ll continue the podcast,” Chin says, “but really, the goal is to keep our foot on the gas regarding celebrating and honoring the Black experience year round, as a whole.”