Tarlin and Mike are back to draw lessons learned from Naomi Osaka’s recent withdrawal from the 2021 French Open citing mental health concerns around appearing for press conferences. We dig into this kerfuffle with the leadership of Roland-Garros over her decision to skip press conferences so she could focus on tennis and run it back to recent tennis history with Naomi’s first Grand Slam title at the 2018 US Open versus her idol, Serena Williams. That match is emotionally challenging to watch and it clearly has had a profound impact on Osaka that we wanted to explore more deeply.
Whether it’s the tennis of the match itself, the cringe-worthy umpiring controversy between Serena and umpire Cesar Ramos, the equally painful to watch Trophy Ceremony, or Naomi’s post-match press conference in 2018, we explore all the angles to try to understand and empathize with where Naomi is coming from.
Along the way, we dig into other famously awkward media appearances by Allen Iverson, Marshawn Lynch, Rasheed Wallace, Greg Popovich, and Bill Belichek before concluding with our thoughts on mental health awareness and the recent trend towards its destigmatization in sports. Naomi is taking a stand here as a role model and leader in Gen Z and we want to recognize her courage as we look to learn from the history contentious relationships between athletes like Naomi and the press.
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Tarlin and Mike bring us back to the story of Allen Iverson which in many ways culminated in the notorious press conference in which he said the word “practice” 22 times. We explore what brought AI to that point and how in many ways it has marginalized his impact on the game and the lessons we can learn from his career.
We run it all the way back to his incredible high school career at Bethel and the incident at the bowling alley which nearly ended his basketball life before it even began. From there, we try to learn from his impact with John Thompson at Georgetown right through his career with the Philadelphia 76ers and Larry Brown.
Thanks as always for listening.
We begin by reflecting on the tragic loss of Chadwick Boseman, aka Black Panther, before diving into the history of the other legend who passed recently, Georgetown Coach John Thompson. Coach Thompson was a towering figure who established a program whose legacy we’re still experiencing to this day. We explore his impact on college basketball by focusing on getting young black men access to education while giving them support as men. We extol the timeless ways in which he connected with his players for good times and bad as we tell the stories of Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Allen Iverson, and Michael Graham. And we explore the lessons in his decision to walk out in 1989 to protest Proposition 48 and its impact on traditionally underserved student-athletes.
And, of course, we dive into Ewing and Thompson’s storied run from an appearance in the NCAA Finals against Dean Smith, James Worthy, Sam Perkins, and Michael Jordan in 1982 to a Championship in 1984 to a legendary run in 1985 which culminated in the shocking upset by Villanova in the Finals in 1985.
While we mourn the loss of Coach Thompson, we take some solace in running it back to another time and learning from the life of a man who had the courage to stand by his conviction and the vision to establish a legacy that changed the world.