The Lead

A Sports and News podcast featuring and
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Shaquille O’Neal’s was one of the most dominant centers to ever play in the NBA. And now, he wants his post basketball life to mirror his days on the court. Through business investments, strict social media rules and always listening to his mother Shaq is on a mission to become the richest retired basketball player on the planet. The Athletic’s Armen Keteyian joins us to talk about his exclusive interview with The Big Aristotle.You can watch Armen’s video “Big Man, Big Brand” here: to listen to a podcast series about the rivalry between Shaq and Kobe, check out “Sports Wars”:
Over the holidays The Lead is featuring episodes from its first year about how sports changed in 2019 or signaled a major trend that’s shaking up a particular league or sport.Women’s Soccer is here to stay. The North Carolina Courage defeated the Chicago Red Stars 4-0 in the final of the NWSL on October 27, 2019. This summer's World Cup generated a lot of talk about equal pay, and also led to a new broadcast deal and a major corporate sponsor for the NWSL. We chat with The Athletic's Megan Linehan about the future of the league, the team that's been pulling in 20,000 fans for home games, and what U.S. star Megan Rapinoe has been up to now that she’s no longer in a Twitter war with the president.Read Megan's article about the future of the NWSL:
The once untouchable Warriors are now the worst team in the NBA, with a 5-23 record. And the last man standing from the dynasty years, at least for now, is the notoriously intense Draymond Green. The Athletic’s Anthony Slater sat down with Draymond to talk about how he’s dealing with all this losing, how he's rehabilitating his offensive game, and growing up a bit in the process. Read Anthony Slater's story about the new Draymond:
Things are bad for the Houston Astros. Players from around the league have been going on camera over the past few days to criticize Astros players and owner Jim Crane for not fully owning up to their role in the sign stealing controversy. Commissioner Rob Manfred has also come under fire for his botched handling of the case. The Athletic’s Marc Carig joins us from spring training in Arizona to talk about why player rage has reached a boiling point and what comes next for the troubled team.Follow Marc Carig's MLB coverage:
Before coronavirus brought sports to a halt, Liverpool was having a historically great Premier League season and was about to clinch its first top flight title in three decades. The Athletic's David Ornstein joins us to explain how the EPL is now desperately trying to find a way to finish the season, why some owners are taking heat over their business decisions, and what the uncertain future of the season means for Liverpool’s title hopes.Follow David Ornstein's Premier League coverage:
The first round of the (virtual) NFL Draft went much more smoothly than many people expected. There were no major technical glitches during the four-hour event, which included NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell receiving pre-recorded boos in his basement and a rare look into the homes of NFL head coaches and GMs. The Athletic’s Mike Sando joins us to break down the picks, to assess the winners and losers, and to discuss where exactly Jerry Jones was broadcasting from.Follow Mike Sando's NFL coverage:
With the Tokyo Olympics now officially postponed, 5-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Nathan Adrian joins us to talk about what the uncertainty of the past few weeks has been like, how he and his fellow Olympic athletes will now be adjusting their lives to meet this new timetable, and how the threat of postponement impacted him in unexpected ways (hint: he developed an unexpected affinity for sweets).
One of the most talked-about players leading up to the NFL Draft — which starts tonight — is Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Once considered a lock to be the No. 1 pick, he’s been slowed by a number of injuries, most notably a dislocated hip, leaving many franchises to ask if the left-hander is worth the risk. On draft day, we’re joined by Andy Staples of The Athletic to look at Tua’s amazing run at Alabama, the injuries that have raised so many questions, and the qualities that make him one of the most intriguing prospects out there.Follow Andy Staples's coverage of college football:
Steph Curry is considered by some to be the best shooter in the history of basketball. Now, a new documentary film (on which Curry is credited as an executive producer) tells the story of Kenny Sailors, the man who invented the skill that Curry has since perfected -- the jump shot. Filmmaker Jacob Hamilton joins us to discuss the film, why Kenny Sailors has largely been forgotten by the basketball world, and why stars like Curry and Kevin Durant are now trying to get him into the basketball hall of fame.Watch the documentary "Jump Shot" online:
The NFL Draft is usually a spectacle, but this year will be different. Teams will make selections remotely, top prospects will be at home instead of walking across the stage and Commissioner Roger Goodell is running the whole thing from his basement. Despite all of that, this year's draft class is stacked with a few potentially franchise-changing quarterbacks, some amazing defenders and a wide receiver group that is not only incredibly talented, but also very deep. The Athletic's Dane Brugler joins us to run down the top 10 picks in his latest mock draft and talk about some of the broader trends surrounding this unique event.
Many people only know Dick Vitale through his happy-go-lucky, extremely energetic and at times almost cartoonish on-air persona. Today, on what would have been the day of the men's college basketball national title game, Seth Davis of The Athletic joins us to talk about the iconic broadcaster's remarkable career — and some of the very human struggles he has endured over the years. Follow Seth Davis’s coverage of college basketball:
Earlier this month, U.S. Soccer made a legal argument that many people found deeply offensive, and that led to the resignation of the organization’s president. As part of an ongoing lawsuit over equal pay, U.S. Soccer essentially argued that men deserve to be paid more money than women because they are biologically superior and play in more difficult conditions. The Athletic’s Megan Linehan joins us to explain how that drama unfolded, why U.S. Soccer took such an inflammatory stance, and what all of this means for new U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone and the future of women’s soccer.Follow Megan Linehan's coverage of the USWNT:
The long-suffering New York Knicks are turning to an unlikely savior: NBA agent Leon Rose is expected to take over as team president. The Athletic's Mike Vorkunov joins us to talk about how the Knicks landed on Rose, whether or not he'll actually be able to turn things around, and why more and more teams are staffing their front offices with player agents.Read more of Mike Vorkunov's coverage of Rose and the Knicks:
The Tampa Bay Rays are currently competing for a Wild Card spot as the baseball season enters its final days. But despite a successful season on the field the team is struggling to get fans into the stands. Attendance has been so dismal that team ownership is considering splitting home games between Florida and Montreal and even moving the team altogether. The Athletic’s Jayson Stark joins us to talk about the dynamics between the city, the franchise and a fan base that just doesn’t show up, even as the team is winning.You can read Jayson Stark’s article on the future of the Tampa Bay Ray’s here: hear Jayson Stark talking with Dan Rubenstein on "Sports Wars": here to listen to Jayson Stark’s baseball podcast, “Starkville”:
Saints linebacker Demario Davis believes in a hands-on approach to social activism. The New Orleans star has handed out water in Flint, fought for bail reform in New York, and traveled to both sides of U.S.-Mexico border to give out blankets and backpacks. And, earlier this year, he helped bail out an ICE detainee. The Athletic's Katherine Terrell joins to explain how Davis's transformation into athlete-activist has grown out of his faith and his own history with the law. Read Katherine Terrell's profile of Demario Davis:
Now that LSU has been crowned college football champions, it's time to look forward to the NFL draft. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is the consensus pick at #1 to the Bengals, but after that, anything can happen. As we enter the college football offseason, the combine and then the draft, there will be plenty of prognostication and projections. So who is landing where? The Athletic's Dane Brugler joins us to talk about his latest mock draft, where he projects where the top five players will land, and how Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa could throw everything into complete chaos.You can read Dane Brugler's mock draft projections here:
Tyreek Hill has a history of domestic violence charges that many people find disturbing. The wide receiver has been an integral part of the Chiefs' offense all season long and is expected to play a major role in the Super Bowl on Sunday, but some people have trouble rooting for the team when he's on the field. The Athletic's Lindsay Jones joins us to talk about Hill's past, how the Chiefs organization has dealt with his case, and the dilemma that reporters and fans face when trying to separate the art from the artist. Follow Lindsay Jones's NFL coverage:
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray entered the NFL surrounded by hype, but along with the fanfare came a lot of doubt. The football world at large didn't think a quarterback of his stature could thrive in the NFL, but so far he's proving the doubters wrong. The Athletic's Lindsay Jones joins us to talk about Kyler Murray's rookie campaign, how his skills have translated on the big stage and why he might be the best high school football player ever to come from the state of Texas. Read Lindsay Jones' story on Kyler Murray's high school career here:
In the wake of former NBA commissioner David Stern's death, we speak with The Athletic's David Aldridge about how Stern took a league that was at a crossroads in the early 1980s and helped transform it into the hugely successful, global enterprise that it is today.Read David Aldridge's story about David Stern's legacy:
The Pistons-Pacers brawl known as “Malice at the Palace” rocked the NBA fifteen years ago. Many people saw it as a low point for the league. The melee, which included flying beer bottles and fans getting punched in the face, forced the league to implement new rules in an attempt to recreate its image. With the Palace now being deconstructed, The Athletic’s Michael Lee joins us to look back at the infamous incident and to explain how the NBA bounced back from the bedlam to be bigger than ever.Read Michael Lee's story about "Malice":
Cocaine and molly have become the drugs of choice in the NHL in recent years, according to a new report from The Athletic's Katie Strang. She joins us to explain why these particular drugs have become popular among hockey players and what the league is and isn't doing to combat substance abuse. We also hear from retired NHL player Daniel Carcillo who dealt with substance abuse issues for years.Read Katie Strang's story about drug use among NHL players:
Nine years ago, Indianapolis Colts GM Chris Ballard and his wife Kristen Ballard received an unexpected phone call. It challenged them in a way they never could have imagined, and caused their family to grow in size. Warning: This is a heartwarming tale of humanity, just in time for the holidays.Read Zak Keefer's story about the Ballard family:
Last night on The Last Dance, ESPN’s documentary series about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, we heard the origin story of the Air Jordan, and its impact on everyone from Nas to Justin Timberlake. Today, we’re joined by The Athletic’s Wosny Lambre, who doubles as a reporter and a sneaker head, to discuss the impact of Jordan’s shoe revolution, which NBA player is the most sneaker obsessed, and why, even though he's nearly sixty years old, MJ is still the undisputed sneaker king.Follow Wosny Lambre's coverage of the NBA, including fashion and culture:
LSU plays Alabama on Saturday in the most highly anticipated college football match of the season. The teams also met back in 2011 in the first "Game of the Century,” with LSU prevailing 9-6. The Athletic's Stewart Mandel joins us to talk about how both teams have transformed their offenses since then, despite some initial resistance from Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban. We're also joined by Dan Rubenstein, host of the podcasts Sports Wars and The Solid Verbal, for an in-depth preview of the game.Who’s going to win this Saturday? Check out Stewart Mandel’s college football picks for Week 11: to Dan Rubenstein's podcasts, Sports Wars and The Solid Verbal.
The Clippers recently angered many NBA fans by resting Kawhi Leonard during a nationally televised game. But could this strategy be the key to winning an NBA title? We speak with The Athletic's Eric Koreen about how "load management" played out during Leonard’s championship run in Toronto last year, the impact his actions have had on the league, and whether this approach to resting will become the blueprint for NBA stars in the future.
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Podcast Details

Feb 3rd, 2019
Latest Episode
Mar 30th, 2020
Release Period
No. of Episodes
Avg. Episode Length
21 minutes
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