It’s been eleven weeks since I got my last notification that a new episode of the Eye On Basketball podcast was available for download. We’re several weeks into the NBA season now, and my trips in the car aren’t the same. They’ll never be because new episodes aren’t coming and “Do you want to do games tonight?” isn’t going to be echoed throughout the speakers in my car this season.
The truth is, though, the NBA podcast that hooked me to a level that closely matched my addiction to sparkling water of the raspberry variety has been gone for a while. Zach Harper hasn’t co-hosted the show for over a year now. Matt Moore kept the show going with James Herbert and friends last season, and although I still tuned in, it wasn't the same. Harper and Moore had a dynamic similar to Bill Simmons and Zach Lowe or Robert Mays and Bill Barnwell -- what ostensibly shouldn’t be a good fit just works once you hit record.
That’s how it works in finding the perfect podcasting partner. My episodes with film critic Danny Bowes first alerted me to this fact. We couldn’t be more different in background and style, but we never failed to crack each other up over things like Ethan Hawke’s turtleneck in BEFORE SUNRISE. (Google it, if you must. Just open a new tab.) Harper and Moore thought about basketball differently and the podcast blossomed because of it. It’s same in sports, where there are far more duos that go the way of the Mike Shanahan and Robert Griffin III marriage than the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick marriage. So when those things dissipate it’s especially unfortunate because it's almost a certainty it will be so hard to replicate with whoever comes in next.
So I still miss it.
And now it’s gone altogether, replaced in my podcast app with other excellent podcasts like The Basketball Friends or SI’s Open Floor podcast or The Hoop Collective or whoever. They’re all great, but I’ll never be as attached to them as much as I was to the Pig Control -- I was never clear what Harper was saying in his intros, but I saw a Redditor mention the former, so I’m going with that because the Internet is never wrong -- podcast. It’s not because they’re not good, it’s because of when I got into them.
I’m not breaking any news here when I say that what we listen to when we’re growing up plays a pivotal role in our musical preferences in adulthood. I was an angsty kid, so my ears will always perk up when a Blink tracks come my Spotify shuffling sessions, or whenever Nas’s voice enters my earbuds to remind us all what life actually is. Podcasts came later, in college, at a time where I was constantly either in my car, sitting in a hallway waiting for a class to start, or in the library trying desperately to prepare for a Statistics exam I was not at all prepared for. I listened to less music and more podcasts and the Eye On Basketball podcast was the first pod that hooked me.
And I never missed an episode. I have distinct memories of riding around my car, as I’m prone to do, and getting excited about seeing there was a new episode available. There were nights where I’d head to a date and I’d be listening to a rare Harper and Ethan Strauss edition of the podcast on the way. Sometimes, I’d be walking the halls at my school knowing that I had an hour gap between my next class and just walk all around campus listening to Harper and Moore do over/unders or the latter rip the Celtics for drafting Terry Rozier in the first round of the NBA Draft.
As a loner and a person who spends entirely too much time in their own head, this podcast served as the ideal escape for an NBA-obsessive and provided me a consistent out when I needed it. My college experience was different than most peoples, as I transferred several times and commuted to campus for the majority of it. I had a few friends here and there, but mostly, I was on my own, either in my car listening to podcasts or walking around campus waiting for my next class with my earbuds firmly in-place the majority of the time. Those walks and commutes were what largely inspired me to take a chance and start my own podcast. And for that, I’ll always be grateful.
Because I love doing my podcast, and I love listening to others. None of that happens without the Eye On Basketball podcast. Maybe one day Harper and Moore will reunite on a future podcast, or maybe they won’t. Either way, I’ll always be a fan because I don’t know what I’d be doing today without that damn basketball podcast.