🏀 A James Harden Masterclass (Redux)
Plus, an interview with author Mirin Fader
Hey! Good to see all you Enjoyers on a beautiful Monday morning. Has everyone’s heart rate slowed from yesterday’s games? Okay, good, neither has ours. We were about to call our cardiologist. But now we just want to talk about the basketball we watched yesterday because it was almost impossibly good. Like, it’s always good, but yesterday was another level. So let’s do it.
Harden Clutch X2: The game-tying shot wasn’t enough for James 🥶
Book It: Devin Booker once again employed the “simply don’t miss” strategy 🤯
EB x Mirin Fader: The bestselling author joined EB for a great conversation 💬
Who has the most playoff games with 10+ assists?
Enjoy Basketball Referral Program
You know what’s crazy? We actually know what P. J. Tucker is saying to Joel Embiid here.
PJ: Hey Joel, did you know EB has a referral program? They do, but only about 1% of subscribers have referred a friend! We should try and get that number up.
Joel: Wow, you’re totally right, P. J. And how do we do that?
PJ: All you have to do is share your custom link (which is at the bottom of this email) with other folks you think would enjoy this newsletter, and if they sign up, you get rewarded! You can track your progress by signing into your account and navigating to “Referrals.” It’s really that easy—and helps spread the Enjoy movement!
We know Friday night probably feels like a lifetime ago at this point, but to catch you up on what we saw to kick off the weekend:
Boston took a 2-1 series lead over Philadelphia thanks to a timely shooting from Al Horford (5 3PM) and The Jays taking shifts getting buckets—Jayson Tatum scored 20 points in just the first and fourth quarters combined, while Jaylen Brown scored 19 in the second and third. Then, Devin Booker and Kevin Durant combined for 86 points. Devin Booker went 20/25. We can’t even think of a joke for this one…that’s just silly. Phoenix protected the desert and made this a 2-1 series.
South Beach Beatdown, Lakers Crush In Crypto
At first, this seemed like a perfect place for the Shaq “I wasn’t familiar with your game” meme regarding the Heat, but…we are familiar with their game at this point! Every year the Heat charge up their powers during the regular season, then as soon as the calendar hits April, they:
Jimmy Butler’s return (28 points) and Max Strus (19 points) showing up for a second straight game proved too much for the Knicks, who shot 12% from the field. Okay, they shot 34% from the field, but if you watched the game, you’ll agree that it felt closer to twelve. 2-1 Heat.
Then, Anthony Davis—whose game we are also familiar with—showed the two-way greatness he’s capable of (25/13/4 BLK) when fully locked in. D’Angelo Russell got the party started in LA with 13 in the first quarter, and a thoroughly dominant second quarter from the entire Lakers squad (36-18) blew this game wide open. It was never un-blown open. Lakers also snag a 2-1 lead.
Harden comes up huge as Sixers even series in 116-115 thriller over Celtics
James Harden shooting 5/28 in Games two and three feels like a lifetime ago, huh? The Beard redeemed himself—and then some— on Sunday after two rough games. He came out of the gate aggressive and never let up. 42 points. Nine assists. Eight rebounds. Four steals. Game-tying floater to force OT. Game-winning corner three in OT. We still feel nervous about this game, and it ended hours ago. And we’re neutral! Sixers and Celtics fans, you’re all troopers.
Do you subscribe to the theory that Harden plays better the more eccentric his pregame fit? 🧐 Either way, Philly has tied this series at two games apiece as we head back to Boston. Are you having fun yet? We are.
Harden’s Game 3 look
Devin Booker forgets he is allowed to miss shots, Suns beat Nuggets 129-124
Us, after Game 3: That was a great win for the Suns, but Devin Booker won’t be able to shoot like that each game.
He did it again. Booker followed up one of the most efficient, beautiful games of basketball we’ve ever seen someone play with…another one of those. 36 points, 12 assists, 14/18 from the field. There’s really no answer for him when he’s getting to his spots. The game looks so much easier for him than everyone else. Well, except for one guy—Kevin Durant—who’s also on his team? That kind of feels like it shouldn’t be allowed. KD added a cool 36 on 11/19 from the field.
Combine two stellar, shining, stunning performances from those two with Nikola Jokic scoring FIFTY-THREE points on 67% shooting and you wind up with basketball in its prettiest form.
Devin Booker and Kevin Durant combined for 72 points and missed 12 shots. TOTAL.
— Esfandiar Baraheni (@JustEsBaraheni)
May 8, 2023
Al Horford, elite shooter? Yes, according to…Al Horford. 💀
James Harden’s best moment of the night came after the buzzer ❤️
The Landry Shamet game? 🤔
Interview With Mirin Fader
NOTE: This is a very condensed version of our interview with Mirin. To read the whole conversation, click HERE!
As many writers know, the best stories seldom begin where you expect. For Mirin Fader, that was certainly the case with her book, which didn’t begin as a book about NBA champion and two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. In fact, it didn’t begin as a book at all—it started as a profile of Giannis’ youngest brother, Alex, but soon transformed into a massive project spanning multiple years, hundreds of interviews, and culminating in a spot on the New York Times bestsellers list.
EB: Your book begins with a story of Giannis and his brothers in Greece pushing a fridge down the road. At first, the scene may read as solemn, desperate. But later in the book, you write how the boys were laughing at the absurdity of their situation, a feeling of togetherness between them. To you, what does that moment say about the Antetokounmpo family and even the human spirit as a whole?
MF: Thank you for this question, because it truly underscores why I chose it as the lead scene of the book. It was precisely as you say—both pain and joy—all in one moment. That is the epitome of their experience, and that’s why I knew I had to start the book this way. Before I wrote this book, not much was written about Giannis’ upbringing. It seemed to be a one-line sentence: he sold trinkets in the street. Things were very, very hard. And while that is true, there was so much joy and love and laughter and true happiness, but that wasn’t necessarily portrayed when sometimes media overemphasized tragedy and trauma. I wanted to make sure that for every difficult moment, I also showed another truth: there were lots of happy moments, too. It shows that they are a loving, resilient family, like any of us. We have dark times, we have light times. Nothing is all or the other. Everyone is trying their best to live each day.
EB: What characteristics draw you to a possible interview subject? Do you notice any commonalities in the personality types of athletes you speak with, or do you find yourself intrigued by all different sorts of people?
MF: I think I am drawn to a kind of person in particular. I’m intrigued by people that work hard. I like shy, yet confident with an edge, humble personalities. People that don’t think they are incredible—but people that play like they know they are incredible. People that had to really fight and claw to get somewhere. People that maybe are misunderstood, but might have other dimensions to them that others aren’t seeing. I like to cover thoughtful people who see themselves as more than just what they do on the court. That’s why, in many of my interviews, I don’t bring up basketball until well into the interview. I want to get to know them as people first. I also cover athletes that are vocal about mental health, like my DeMar DeRozan profile. That story meant a lot to me. I still think about some of the things he said to me in that interview, and I really feel like he is exactly the kind of person that I really enjoy speaking with/profiling.
What We’re Enjoying
First Two Pages Of Frankenstein by The National: If you’re looking for music to help you calm down when you can’t stop jumping around your room after watching the greatest basketball you’ve ever seen, this album might be perfect. Melodic, soft, and sometimes melancholic, The National’s newest is a meditative album delivered with some help from Taylor Swift, Sufjan Stevens, and Phoebe Bridgers.
Sadly, we’re out of time for today, folks. Wanna hear something exciting, though? Lean in…closer…ʷᵉ ᵍᵉᵗ ᵗᵒ ᵈᵒ ᶦᵗ ᵃˡˡ ᵃᵍᵃᶦⁿ ᵒⁿ ʷᵉᵈⁿᵉˢᵈᵃʸ. Take care of yourselves, folks! We want to see you thrive, and we know you can. Yes, we’re talking to . Talk soon.
Trivia Answer: The most games of 10+ assists in the NBA playoffs? Magic Johnson, who dished out double-digit dimes in the playoffs 143 times 😵
Before you go…
Which moment did you Enjoy the most this weekend?
In your best Mike Breen impression, what did you think of today's newsletter?