Posts Tagged ‘Lang Whitaker’

Talking NBA with Chris Rock and the cast of “Top Five”

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with Chris Rock and the cast of his upcoming movie, Top Five — out December 12 in the U.S. — to talk about the film, but also talk NBA with this collection of NBA fans…


VIDEO: Top Five

Hang Time Road Trip — Day 5 and 6

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By Lang Whitaker

NEW YORK CITY — Day Five and Day six of the Hang Time Road Trip are getting their own post, because at this point we’re on the way home and almost done with this whole thing.

Let’s start on the morning of Day 5. It was a beautiful day in NYC, and we were lucky enough to have the morning off before having some afternoon responsibilities. I spent the previous night at my home in NYC, so I got up and hopped in a car and rolled out to Tarrytown, New York to meet up with the Hang Time Road Trip crew, who had spent the night in a hotel.

Around noon we finally boarded the bus and hit a local diner for lunch, and then showed up at the Knicks practice facility out in Tarrytown. Whenever the bus would make a stop, Rick and Sekou and I would put together all the souveneirs we’d accumulated for the little table in the middle of the bus where we conducted interviews. So we started grabbing bobbleheads, flags, foam fingers, bags, all kinds of stuff. And the Knicks gifted us with a Carmelo Anthony and Clyde Frazier bobblehead to add to our collection.

Before long, Phil Jackson got on the bus. He’s still new at his current gig as President of the Knicks, but he’s got a rich history in New York, including winning two titles as a player with the Knicks back in the ’70s. He had also a rich history with our crew, as the former coach of our own Rick Fox. It was really cool to chat with Phil and talk Knicks and their fans and the expectations around the team.


VIDEO: Phil Jackson talks about the Knicks’ fan base and communication

#hangtime with Phil Jackson

A photo posted by Lang Whitaker (@langwhitaker) on

Not long after Phil left, we were joined by new Knicks coach Derek Fisher, who played with Rick on some of those Lakers teams. Fish was impressive, laying out his coaching philosophy and his vision for his team. As he left he autographed the basketballs we’ve had everyone who came on the bus sign, and I asked him if it was tough to not add his number at the bottom of his signature. He said it was — he’d spent decades signing his name with his number underneath it, and now, he said, he had to make himself pause each time to remember not to put a number on there.


VIDEO: Derek Fisher breaks down upcoming season as coach

#Hangtime Road Trip with Coach Fisher

A photo posted by Lang Whitaker (@langwhitaker) on

When we finished with the Knicks, Rick had to go into the city to do a radio hit to promote our Hang Time Road Trip show that will air
next week (Wednesday night at 10 ET!). Sekou and I rode with him because we’re a team like that, and we piled into a car and headed for Manhattan. And once we were in the car, it didn’t take long for Sekou to knock out.

To be fair, @sekou3000 fell asleep yesterday as well

A video posted by Lang Whitaker (@langwhitaker) on

Once in the city, Rick did a few segments on the Michael Kay show while Sekou and I sat around the control room…

.@imrickafox on the Michael Kay show promoting the #Hangtime Road Trip

A photo posted by Lang Whitaker (@langwhitaker) on

The bus was on its way to Secaucus, New Jersey, where the rest of the crew was gonna grab dinner, so we found a little diner right next to the studio and grabbed a bite to eat. (Also, while we were at dinner, Rick knocked over a glass of water all over my phone. Somehow it survived unscathed.) After dinner we rode out to Secaucus, where the crew had just finished dinner and was walking back to the bus. They met us there and we headed south.

But an hour after we left, we stopped at a truck stop to refuel. While our driver, Tom Cat, dealt with the gas, Rick modeled the latest in truck stop fashion…

.@imrickafox models the latest in truck stop fashion #Hangtime

A photo posted by Lang Whitaker (@langwhitaker) on

We got back in the bus and found the Lakers/Warriors game on NBA TV, and kicked back and talked and laughed and watched TV and laughed. Just after midnight I crawled into my bunk for the evening.

I slept great, and woke up feeling well-rested with the bus driving slowly, so I figured we were at our destination. I got out of my bunk and walked to the front of the bus and realized it was still dark, and then noticed it was still 3:15 a.m.

Around 7:30 a.m., our super producer Gregg Waigand woke me to tell me we had reached Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Because there were no NBA games on the East Coast — well, Charlotte and Washington play tonight, but we we’ve already seen both of them play. So we decided to hit UNC, where Rick played his college ball. We stopped and showered at a hotel,grabbed some breakfast, then hustled over to the UNC basketball offices, where they rolled out the Carolina blue carpet for us.

Coach Roy Williams came out and met us, and walked us through their facilities and out onto the court. He’d actually recruited Rick years ago, so we talked about that, and talked about UNC and their long history of sending players to the NBA. We also ran into assistant coach Hubert Davis, who was Rick’s roommate for three years when they were in school.

On the floor…

A photo posted by Lang Whitaker (@langwhitaker) on

Old home week for @imrickafox w/ Hubert Davis and Roy Williams

A photo posted by Lang Whitaker (@langwhitaker) on

After our tour we grabbed lunch downtown and then walked around the campus some, where Rick and I put our Vine skills to work…

We finished up our time in Chapel Hill by filming the closing of our show, and then, for the final time, we boarded the bus and headed home. And of course, someone fell asleep immediately.

Payback for @imrickafox #Hangtime

A video posted by Lang Whitaker (@langwhitaker) on

There are a ton of stories to tell from this trip, which has been outstanding, but really I’d say just watch the special next week on NBA TV to get the entire tale. As for me? We’re almost home, and I need a nap. Later…

Hang Time Road Trip — Day 4

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By Lang Whitaker

NEW YORK CITY — Day Four of the Hang Time Road Trip is in the books, and man, it was quite a day.

We were supposed to arrive in Philadelphia early in the morning, with enough time to for all of us to take showers and clean up before we headed to the Wells Fargo Center to bank some more interviews. But because of an accident on the Pennsylvania turnpike, we spent an few hours stuck in traffic and rolled into our hotel in Philly with barely any time to spare. So Sekou Smith, Rick Fox and I ran in and grabbed some showers, while the crew did their best to get clean with whatever options were available to them. Here, our super producer Gregg Waigand brushed up in the parking lot.

Super producer Gregg Waigand. #hangtime

A video posted by Lang Whitaker (@langwhitaker) on

We then hustled over to the Wells Fargo Center, where, for the first time all week, the sun blessed with us an uninterrupted presence. After the early winter in Cleveland and Chicago and the rain in Indianapolis, it felt awesome to just spend a few seconds basking in the sun. (more…)

Hang Time Road Trip — Day 3

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PHILADELPHIA — Day Three is in the books, and after a night on the (bumpy and not-so) open road, we just rolled into Philly and it feels like we’re trying to chase our tails, so to speak. The plan was to drive overnight from Indianapolis to Philly, and be here in Philly in time to grab some showers and breakfast before our first interview of the day. But apparently there was some sort of slowdown on the turnpike last night and we spent nearly two hours stopped on the highway.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Let’s talk Day 3: At some point yesterday morning before sunrise, we pulled into a hotel parking lot near Plymouth, Indiana. We had two hotel rooms reserved, so we took turns using the facilities and getting prepped for the day. Once we were all cleaned up and ready to roll, we boarded the bus and chugged toward Indianapolis. We rolled through cornfields and amber waves of something or other, and it was a lovely ride through the heartland of America.

Morning in Indiana #Hangtime

A video posted by Lang Whitaker (@langwhitaker) on

Unfortunately, by the time we got to Indianapolis, we were running late, and one interview we lined up had to cancel at the last minute. Hey, stuff happens. Luckily, we had Rick around to make some smoothies with a blender he bought at Wal-Mart, to help me get my voice back.

Rick Fox outchea making smoothies on the bus. #hangtime

A photo posted by Lang Whitaker (@langwhitaker) on

David Benner, the Pacers’ longtime senior VP or PR, was standing in the parking lot holding an umbrella waiting for the bus upon our arrival in Indy. For Sekou, this trip was something of a homecoming. Back in the 1990s, Sekou spent five years living in Indianapolis and writing about the Pacers and the NBA for the Indianapolis Star. (more…)

Hang Time Road Trip — Day 2

PLYMOUTH, INDIANA — To be honest, I’m not exactly sure when it left me. It could have been while walking from the United Center through the brisk Chicago evening air to our bus in the parking lot. Maybe it was while yelling over a bad cell phone connection trying to talk to Kyrie Irving about Call of Duty. Perhaps it was being in close to the perpetually-hoarse Tom Thibodeau. To be honest, it was probably when we stopped at that farm-themed restaurant near the Illinois/Indiana border near midnight.

Whatever the cause, the effect is this: I woke up this morning with absolutely no voice.

Now, normally not having a voice wouldn’t be a big deal — I’m a writer, after all, not a talker. HOWEVER, right now, for the duration of this trip, I’m a talker. We’re filming interviews with players and podcasts and videos. And being able to, you know, talk, is sort of important to this endeavor.

My co-host Rick Fox says I’ll be fine — “You just need some tea.” I appreciate Dr. Fox’s confidence in this matter, so I’m sitting here on the bus in the early morning half-light of Northern Indiana, guzzling tea and mostly not talking.

Yesterday was the second full day of the Hang Time Road Trip, and it was indeed a full day. We drove overnight from Cleveland to Chicago, and woke up in the parking lot of a hotel near O’Hare airport. I rolled out of my bite-sized bunk bed and stumbled into one of the two hotel rooms we booked to use as a base for showers. Considering the size of the bed I’d been in 24 hours earlier, it was quite an adjustment…

http://instagram.com/p/t0JcXkGZXu/ (more…)

Hang Time Road Trip — Day 1

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VIDEO: Sekou tries to get the Hang Time Road Trip rolling

CHICAGO — And so it begins. Hopefully you’ve read about the Hang Time Road Trip over the last few days. We’ve been writing and tweeting (#hangtime) about it, and it won’t stop.

This morning we kicked it off bright and early in downtown Cleveland, where Sekou Smith, Rick Fox and I met our bus, our home for the next week. You can see bus in the video above. I mean, it’s really our home, and it’s tight quarters — the three of us, our producer, a camera man, an audio guy, two editors and two drivers. All in one bus for seven days. Last night we stayed in a Cleveland hotel. Tonight we will sleep on this bus. It’s a really nice bus though, as you can see in a video here.

Anyway, first thing this morning we drove around Cleveland for a bit before ending up over at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We discovered a photo shoot for a car magazine underway. So of course we put our best face forward and had Rick join the photo shoot …

Jumped in the Photo shoot outside #RockNRoll #HallOfFame #CarsNCurvesMagazine @NBATV

A photo posted by Rick Fox (@imrickafox) on

The Rock Hall was terrific. We were given a tour and saw everything from James Brown‘s suit to Beyonce‘s tour outfits to Jimi Hendrix‘s guitar to Alex Van Halen‘s drum kit. Also, a video outfit from one of my favorite groups of all-time …

#RockHall #ATLshawty #HangTime

A photo posted by Lang Whitaker (@langwhitaker) on

We spent about an hour wandering around the place and checking it out, and could have easily spent another hour or so there. If you’re in Cleveland, it’s a must-see. Here’s a video of our experiences there …


VIDEO: The Hang Time crew visits the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (more…)

The Hang Time Road Trip

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By Lang Whitaker

For the last few years, about once a week I’ve hopped on Skype with my NBA Digital colleagues Sekou Smith and Rick Fox to record a new version of the Hang Time Podcast. We’ve laughed together, we’ve cried together… no wait, we haven’t done any crying, unless it was from laughing. Basically, we’ve had a lot of fun, and done a lot of chatting, and we’ve learned a lot about each other and the NBA. Oh and we got honored by the Webby Awards, which was pretty cool.

The past few months, we’ve been trying to spread our wings a bit. During the Finals, whenever we were all in the same place — normally I’m in New York, Sekou’s in Atlanta, and Rick’s somewhere in the ether — we recorded a couple of video podcasts. (We also had a pig roast in Miami thanks to friend of the podcast Genesis Rodriguez.) This summer at the Las Vegas Summer League, we actually called a few games together.

And on Sunday, we’re embarking on our biggest adventure yet: Can you say Road Trip?

NBA training camps have convened around the country, as franchises put last season behind them and focus on the future. Anticipation abounds, as franchises see where all the wheeling and dealing over the last few months has left them and fans buy into that as-yet untested and unproven vision for the future.

How do we best explore that lovely feeling of hope, the unanimous excitement that comes around once a year? How do we capture how much fun this time of year is? How do we check in with players and coaches to see how their summers went, to find out what their expectations are, and most importantly, to discover which teams really are ready for the new season to begin?

That picture up above? That huge bus? That’s how we’re doing this.

And, just so you hush that fuss, here’s the back of the bus!

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So yeah, the bus is our home for the next week-plus. Starting on Saturday in Cleveland, Sekou, Rick and I will be zig-zagging around the country to take the pulse of players, teams and fans. We’ll sleep on the bus, drive on the bus, and interview players and coaches on the bus.

We’re starting in Cleveland and heading East, at least on this initial trip — saving the West for next time — and we’ll be recording and posting a couple of video podcasts each day. We’ll attend NBA preseason games each night, then power on overnight to the next city. We’ll stop at roadside attractions and truck stops at midnight and cool restaurants and pull pranks on each other and try to have as much fun as we usually do. And when the whole thing is done, we’ll edit together a best-of show that will air on NBA TV.

Our first game will be Sunday night in Cleveland, where the Cavs take on Maccabi Tel Aviv in an exhibition, and then we’ll go from there. We’ve got a schedule tentatively mapped out, but we’re keeping it fluid, so the best way to keep up with us will be to follow us on Twitter or Instagram, where all three of us will be posting real-time updates (using the hashtag #HANGTIME):

Rick Fox (twitter | instagram)
Sekou Smith (twitter | instagram)
Lang Whitaker (twitter | instagram)

I’ll also be posting regular updates here on the All Ball Blog. If you see us out on the road or in your city, please come say hello! Interacting with you folks is what makes this so much fun, and we probably have questions for you about how you’re feeling about your team.

I think that’s everything. Saddle up, everyone. See ya on the road…

Lang and the NBA Rookies: Inside the NBA

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Just like last year, at the recent NBA Rookie photo shoot I showed up with a camera crew and a burning desire to get to know these guys as well as I could, courtesy of some non-traditional questions.

Here is part nine: Ernie, Kenny, Charles or Shaq?


VIDEO: NBA Rookies: Inside Inside

Lang and the NBA Rookies: Movie time

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Just like last year, at the recent NBA Rookie photo shoot I showed up with a camera crew and a burning desire to get to know these guys as well as I could, courtesy of some non-traditional questions.

Here is part eight: Who would play you (and your love interest) in the movie of your life?


VIDEO: NBA Rookies: Movie casting

Lang and the NBA Rookies: Karaoke

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Just like last year, at the recent NBA Rookie photo shoot I showed up with a camera crew and a burning desire to get to know these guys as well as I could, courtesy of some non-traditional questions.

Here is part seven: What is your go-to karaoke song?


VIDEO: NBA Rookies: Karaoke