The Vertical Podcast with Woj

The Vertical Podcast with Woj

United States

Adrian Wojnarowski, the most dominant force in NBA reporting, brings you inside the league with, the “Vertical Podcast.” Woj is probing the biggest newsmakers in the sport – from the commissioner, to general managers, coaches and star players – to bring listeners inside the processes, personas and stories that impact the NBA. Beyond longer sit-down interviews in our New York studios, Woj will deliver real-time podcasts with league personnel built around breaking news.


Inside the DeMarcus Cousins trade  

Adrian Wojnarowski and Vertical front office insider Bobby Marks break down the DeMarcus Cousins trade in a bonus edition of The Vertical Podcast with Woj. Woj and Marks go inside the process and drama that led to Cousins trade from Sacramento to New Orleans, and what the ramifications will be for both franchises.

Ettore Messina joins Woj  

San Antonio Spurs assistant Ettore Messina joins The Vertical Podcat with Woj. Messina, a legendary European coach, discusses what it’s like to work with Gregg Popovich and immerse himself into the unique Spurs culture. Messina talks about his years as Dean Smith’s interpreter on the Carolina coach’s trips to Italy and his years coaching Micheal Ray Richardson in Italy after his banishment from the NBA for substance abuse. Messina talks about his desire to become the first European-born and raised NBA head coach and what the distinct differences are between coaching in Europe and the United States. Here are some key moments: 2:17: How Messina’s views about basketball have evolved with the Spurs. 4:20: The differences between the Euroleague and NBA. 6:51: The benefits of being an assistant and getting to know the league. 8:42: How Popovich uses team dinners to bond with players and create a unique team culture. 12:40: Messina’s relationship with Manu Ginobili. 19:04: Falling in love with the game of basketball as a child in Italy. 20:50: How visiting American coaches, including Dean Smith, helped his development. 24:17: The Spurs’ focus on fundamentals and execution. 25:38: How Popovich’s Spurs compare to Smith’s Carolina teams in terms of taking social stands. 28:20: Coaching Michael Ray Richardson after he was banned from the NBA. 33:35: Messina coaching against Kobe Bryant’s father in Italy. 35:00: What he learned from being around all-time greats like Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan. 37:42: How he decided to coach in Russia. 40:16: Mikhail Prokhorov’s hand-off ownership style. 42:40: The opportunity to become the first European-born head coach in the NBA. 45:11: Popovich’s respect for international basketball and his popularity overseas.

Dwyane Wade joins Woj  

Three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade joins Adrian Wojnarowski for a probing hour of conversation on The Vertical Podcast with Woj. Wade speaks with great candor on his split with Heat president Pat Riley, the building of the Big Three with LeBron James and Chris Bosh and how that free agent coup transformed the powerbase of the modern NBA star. Wade talks of his future with the Chicago Bulls, how he evolved with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and why he was so uneasy about climbing into the Banana Boat for the first time.

Julius Randle joins Woj  

Lakers forward Julius Randle joins Adrian Wojnarowski on The Vertical Podcast with Woj. Randle discusses the influences of Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace on his young professional career, the intense scrutiny of life as a Kentucky Wildcat, John Calipari and how he's approaching fatherhood with his newborn son after growing up without his father in the household.

Jerry Krause joins Woj  

​Legendary Chicago Bulls general manager Jerry Krause joins The Vertical Podcast with Woj for an extensive visit. ​Krause goes into great detail on the building of the Bulls dynasty, the genius and competitive will of Michael Jordan, MJ’s retirement and return, the hiring of Phil Jackson from the Albany Patroons and the dynamic drama of those relationships. Krause goes into great detail on his painstaking processes as a basketball and baseball scout, the lessons Red Holzman taught him on the scouting trail and the most important quality beyond talent that he needed to surround Jordan with on the Bulls (yes, mental toughness) Krause tells of his anxieties on the phone discussing trades with Celtics GM Red Auerbac, the amazing chain of events that led him to making a draft night deal for Scottie Pippen and how as a member of the Phoenix Suns organization in the early 1970’s, the organization talked with Bob Knight about becoming the franchise’s coach – and why the offer was never made. And finally, Krause talks about his deep desire to be elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame, where he’s finalist again in 2017. ​

Joe Dumars joins Woj  

​Hall of Fame player and executive Joe Dumars joins Adrian Wojnarowski on The Vertical Podcast. ​In his first extended interview since leaving a 14-run as Detroit Pistons GM in April of 2014, Dumars goes deep into his championship run in the 2000’s, the turbulent final seasons, the Rasheed Wallace trade that completed a championship team and the Kobe Bryant deal that never happened. ​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.

Isaiah Thomas joins Woj  

Boston Celtics All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas joins Woj on the Vertical Podcast to go inside his spectacular season, watching Patriots quarterback Tom Brady up close, his relationship with his childhood idol Allen Iverson, the NBA stars that he would pay to watch and his belief that he can be a franchise star on a championship-level team.

Jerry Ferrara joins Woj  

​Actor Jerry Ferrara joins Adrian Wojnarowski on The Vertical Podcast. ​Ferrara recounts his love of basketball and the New York Knicks, how the game intertwined in his character, “Turtle”, on the HBO show “Entourage” and his prolific history as an adult fantasy camp basketball maven. Ferrara talks about his young days growing up in Brooklyn as a Knicks fan, his relationship with Kristaps Porzingis and his secret desire to take an internship in an NBA front office someday. He talks about his memories of Lamar Odom and Jerry Buss in the tapings of Entourage, the bond of the cast and why the show worked for so long. Here are some key moments: 2:50: The disappointing season for the Knicks. 4:04: Kristaps Porzingis’ development and his value to the team. 5:49: The process of getting seats on celebrity row at Knicks games. 7:28: Bigger meeting: Martin Scorsese or Porzingis? 14:27: Ferrara’s fantasy basketball camp experience, including wanting to play for Jeff Van Gundy. 23:39: The relationship between ‘Entourage’ and the NBA, including filming at games. 33:15: Would Ferrara give up acting to join an NBA team at an entry-level position? 35:08: How much Ferrara influenced how Turtle dressed on the show. 40:48: Moving to Hollywood after growing up in New York City. 43:24: The cast of Entourage putting the good of the show above themselves as individuals. 48:52: Avoiding being typecast as Turtle in future roles. 53:32: Would social media have impacted how the show was received?

Nerlens Noel joins Woj  

The Philadelphia 76ers Nerlens Noel joins The Vertical Podcast with Woj. Noel discusses his future in Philadelphia, his summer free agency, his thoughts about a possible trade and living through the embarrassment of the Sixers losing streaks and tanks as well as growing up the No. 1 high school prospect in America. Here are some key moments: 2:37: Battling for minutes during a contract year. 5:19: Speaking out on the team’s crowded frontcourt before the season. 6:42: Adjusting to playing for a different front office after Sam Hinkie’s departure. 11:55: Other teams having concerns about Noel’s character when doing research on him. 13:23: The impact of the constant losing during his first few seasons with the 76ers. 18:04: Not feeling like the 76ers were an NBA team while they were tanking. 19:00: Noel’s parents moving to the United States from Haiti to give their children a better life. 23:22: The similarities between Noel’s background and Patrick Ewing’s. 27:30: Tearing his ACL while playing at Kentucky and its impact on his draft stock. 30:50: Developing patience while returning from the ACL injury. 33:02: How often does Noel communicate with Bryan Colangelo? 35:01: Noel’s fit playing alongside Joel Embiid.

John Hammond joins Woj  

Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond joins the Vertical Podcast with Woj to discuss the drafting and development of Giannis Antetokounmpo, the modernizing of the Bucks franchise, his years under Joe Dumars building the Pistons championship team and his own harrowing life story. All that and much more with John Hammond and Adrian Wojnarowski. Here are some key moments: 1:07: Deciding how much time to spend traveling with the team. 2:50: How having a pair of foundational players impacts building a roster. 5:51: Antetokounmpo’s development from unknown player into a superstar with the Bucks. 7:41: Scouting Antetokounmpo before the 2013 draft. 13:20: The unpredictability of the draft. 17:26: Lessons learned from helping build the 2000s Pistons. 20:52: The deal they labored over the most while building the Pistons. 26:22: Hammond’s career path through many levels of basketball. 28:38: The high school motorcycle accident that changed the trajectory of his life. 31:00: How he ended up at a small college and its impact on him. 36:25: The value Hammond places on relationships, personally and professionally. 43:33: How the responsibilities of a GM has evolved during 47:15: Working with Justin Zanik, who will be his successor with the Bucks.

Adrian Wojnarowski's Year in Podcasts  

​Adrian Wojnarowski goes inside the 2016 roster of shows on The Vertical Podcast with Woj, telling behind-the-scenes stories on visits with the biggest names in the game as well as answers audience questions. ​From Adam Silver to Bob Myers, RC Buford and Joel Embiid, Manu Ginobili and Patrick Ewing, Woj takes his audience on a tour de force through the inaugural year of the podcast. Here are some key moments: 1:05: An update on J.J. Redick’s podcast and the origins of his podcast. 6:02: Woj’s favorite podcasts in the first year, including Adam Silver and Bob Myers. 15:06: Chris Herren’s appearance and how he maintains the same passion and care during each of his presentations. 19:23: Spurs GM R.C. Buford discussing Tim Duncan’s career and retirement. 24:34: Manu Ginobili being the guest Woj wanted to have on the most. 30:44: Why was Sam Hinkie not mentioned during the Joel Embiid podcast? 34:02: Do guests ever come on the show as part of a PR tour? 41:28: Woj nearly not recording an early podcast with Kyrie Irving. 45:52: Does Woj ever turn on his notifications before breaking a big story? 48:38: Woj’s best Craig Sager story, including the strength he showed while battling cancer.

Marc Gasol joins Woj  

Memphis Grizzlies All-Star Marc Gasol joins The Vertical Podcast with Woj. Gasol and Woj break down the story of Gasol's improbable journey from an oveweight teenager into the best center in the world. All that and more on The Vertical Podcast with Woj. Here are some key moments: 1:12: The closeness of the Grizzlies’ core group and the Spanish national team. 4:55: Expanding his game to include 3-pointers. 6:31: Not caring about being an MVP candidate. 7:38: How coming to the NBA impacted his development as a player. 14:52: Growing up in the shadow of Pau and overcoming stereotypes of European players. 18:45: Getting traded for Pau and the pressure to succeed. 23:47: His close bond with Mike Conley. 26:14: The factors he considered when deciding to re-sign with the Grizzlies, including establishing an identity for the team. 30:47: Appreciating the opportunity to play against Pau in the NBA and how hard they compete against each other. 33:33: Coming close to beating Team USA in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

David Fizdale joins Woj  

Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale joins The Vertical Podcast with Woj. Fizdale discusses his long journey, from the crossfire of growing up in South Central L.A., to fighting stereotypes often assigned to young African-American assistant coaches, to his partnership with head coach Erik Spoelstra in coaching the Big 3 to two NBA titles in Miami. Fizdale talks about his impressive 18-9 start as the new head coach in Memphis, how his Heat pedigree under Spoelstra and Pat Riley prepared him for the opportunity and his strong feelings about the gun issue in America’s cities and towns. 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.

Bobby Marks joins Woj  

Vertical Front Office Insider Bobby Marks joins The Vertical Podcast with Woj to breakdown the start of NBA trade season, including reporting on multiple teams plans and hopes to improve themselves and the players who could be on the move. Here are some key moments: 1:13: The significance of Dec. 15 as the start of trading season. 3:18: The lack of big-time players traded midseason during the past few years. 5:28: The Pacers and Kings not discussing Paul George or DeMarcus Cousins with other teams. 8:26: The Kings needing to trade Rudy Gay or lose him for nothing in free agency. 16:48: The Raptors’ collection of assets to possibly upgrade the roster. 20:08: The Warriors being more likely to add players after March 1 than via trade. 22:47: The Heat likely to test the market for Goran Dragic. 25:10: How draft picks have gained value as salaries have exploded in free agency. 27:41: The Nuggets’ mix of veterans and young players that will draw interest on the trade market. 33:05: Players available on the trade market, including Greg Monroe, Nerlens Noel and several Suns players. 35:24: The Celtics having the assets to make a deal, including their interest in Gordon Hayward. 38:01: The Nets wanting real value for Brook Lopez. 43:46: No head coaches being fired so far this season.

Luke Walton joins Woj  

Lakers coach Luke Walton joins The Vertical Podcast with Woj to go inside his coaching influences, Golden State Warriors pedigree and hopes to turn the Lakers back into a destination for free agent stars. Here are some key moments: 2:30: Managing his time amid the demands of being a head coach. 7:41: Recognizing the ideal situation the Warriors had during the last two seasons. 12:54: How he is still benefitting from his time coaching in the D-League, including the importance of chemistry. 19:00: Using his experience as a player to relate to his team. 22:49: Immersing himself in understanding the mood around the team. 25:24: Nick Young’s resurgence this season under Walton. 28:19: Re-establishing the Lakers as a major free-agent destination. 32:44: His experiences wanting to help his father and Steve Kerr as they battled back pain. 36:02: The misconception last season that the Warriors didn’t need Kerr while Walton served as interim head coach. 40:10: His continued appreciation for the situation in Golden State after leaving.

Jamal Crawford joins Woj  

Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford joined Adrian Wojnarowski for an entertaining visit on The Vertical Podcast with Woj. Crawford talks about his incredible 17 year NBA journey, including stories that include Michael Jordan and Jay Z and Samuel L. Jackson. It’s an incredible visit for basketball junkies, truly a must-listen. Here are some key moments: 3:23: The make-or-break pressure the Clippers are facing this season. 5:43: Initially signing a letter of intent to play for Jerry Tarkanian. 8:47: Nearly entering the NBA draft out of high school before going to Michigan. 9:58: Growing up competing against older players. 11:50: Getting to know Michael Jordan, getting introduced to Jay-Z and racking up a high gambling debt. 15:44: Being one of four players to score more than 50 points for three different teams. 19:33: Crawford’s love of the game and reputation as a great teammate. 24:05: Deciding to play pick-up basketball year-round. 27:05: The craziest place Crawford played in a pick-up game. 30:10: Playing with teammates who don’t share his love for the game. 31:26: Kanye West being star struck by Eddy Curry. 33:23: Jerry Krause’s belief in Crawford and omission from the Hall of Fame. 37:37: Holding the all-time record for four-point plays. 39:14: Embracing a sixth-man role to play for better teams. 42:38: Memories of playing for the Knicks and serving as a mentor for Isaiah Thomas. 45:00: The close-knit group of players that have come out of Seattle.

Donnie Walsh joins Woj  

NBA legend Donnie Walsh joins The Vertical Podcast with Woj to cover one of this generation’s most accomplished basketball lives. From the building of the Pacers franchise around Reggie Miller to the challenges of navigating the New York Knicks under owner James Dolan, Walsh details the triumphs and tribulations of a quarter of a century of running NBA front offices. Walsh covers fascinating territory in his life, including how he nearly accepted a job in Richard Nixon’s law firm, and his memories of playing and coaching under Dean Smith at the University of North Carolina. Here are some key moments: 2:44: Did Walsh ever think the NBA would get as big as it is? 4:12: His current role with the Pacers and working with multiple ownership groups. 10:22: The value of Reggie Miller playing his entire career in Indiana. 16:23: The changing nature of front office interactions in the last 20 years. 18:22: How important the draft is to building a team. 20:15: Going to law school and nearly working with Richard Nixon. 25:00: Playing for Dean Smith at North Carolina and why he never came close to leaving for the NBA. 29:07: Smith creating the modern college program and quietly making stands on social issues. 32:45: Walsh’s role in helping Metta World Peace during his tumultuous early years in the league. 35:10: Deciding to take over his hometown Knicks. 40:07: The focus on the 2010 free agent class during his time with the Knicks. 48:50: Jim Dolan’s role in negotiating the Carmelo Anthony trade with the Nuggets. 53:01: Dolan wanting to bring Isiah Thomas back to the franchise. 55:29: Walsh’s legacy as a front-office executive. 58:28: Working with Larry Brown.

Draymond Green joins Woj  

Golden State Warriors All-Star Draymond Green delivers an illuminating visit on The Vertical Podcast with Woj. Green and Adrian Wojnarowski discuss everything from Green’s personal quest to harness his professional and personal volatility, his recruitment of Kevin Durant, his surprising benching on Team USA in the Olympics and his love and history with football. Green talks about his obsession with becoming the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, the 2016 NBA Finals loss to Cleveland and the power that players possess in building NBA super teams. 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.

Seth Curry joins Woj  

Dallas Mavericks guard Seth Curry visits The Vertical Podcast with Woj to discuss his jagged journey to the NBA, the blessings and burdens of life as MVP Steph Curry's younger brother, growing up playing ball with Muggsy Bogues and much, much more. Here are some key moments: 1:24: Still being hungry after signing a two-year contract following time spent in the D-League. 5:07: The different motivations for players in the D-League that create a unique culture. 8:07: Did his last name make it tougher for him to get a chance in the NBA? 9:49: How growing up around the NBA made it seem achievable. 13:20: Playing one-on-one against Muggsy Bogues. 16:20: Lessons learned from his father. 19:14: The transition from being recognized as Dell’s son to Steph’s brother. 22:15: Major college programs not heavily recruiting either of the Curry brothers after high school. 26:31: Battling injuries during his senior season at Duke. 28:32: Supporting Steph when he was battling ankle injuries earlier in his career. 35:21: Staying confident in his ability to make the NBA and turning down big overseas offers. 39:34: Former Kings coach George Karl’s bias against Duke players, including Curry. 42:35: Steph understanding that his success might make it tougher for Seth. 43:23: Turning down offers from the Warriors in an effort to make his own path. 44:18: The belief the Mavericks have shown in him.

Joel Embiid and Brett Brown join Woj  

Philadelphia’s 76ers center Joel Embiid and coach Brett Brown join Adrian Wojnarowski on The Vertical Podcast for an extended conversation on the young star’s remarkable journey to prominence in the NBA. In one of his first extended interviews, Embiid discusses nearly quitting during his long rehabilitation process, his younger brother’s tragic death and for the first time discloses his friendship and line of communication with Tim Duncan. Embiid talks about the flawed stereotypes that Americans have about African players, and the jokes that he has played on people concerning his childhood upbringing. All this and more on Embiid and Brown’s visit to The Vertical Podcast with Woj. Here are some key moments: 2:26: The new 76ers practice facility. 3:37: Embiid and Brown discuss how their international friends are reacting to the presidential election. 7:31: The NBA as a melting pot and its ability to lead on issues of race and culture. 9:29: Lessons Embiid learned from sitting out two NBA seasons. 14:41: Embiid on the pressure of being viewed by fans and the media as the team’s savior. 20:03: Not playing basketball until he was 15 years old and quickly picking up the game. 21:49: Embiid’s childhood in Cameroon compared to how Americans perceive it. 24:27: The death of Embiid’s brother during his rookie season with the 76ers. 28:02: Brown’s role in Embiid’s life during the last two years beyond the basketball court. 32:23: Embiid’s relationship with Tim Duncan. 35:45: The difficultly of having his minutes limited to ensure his long-term health. 37:10: Handling the praise and criticism that comes with social media. 39:46: Helping Ben Simmons with his recovery from injury. 42:09: Embiid exceeding Brown’s expectations in his first season.

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