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‘Winging It’ podcast shows off Hawks’ chemistry

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Atlanta has much more room for growth in many areas, but liking each other shouldn’t be near the top of the list.

@AnnieFinberg/Twitter

ATLANTA — The 2018-19 Atlanta Hawks aren’t the typical rebuilding team.

While yes, losses are bad whether they’re competitive or blowouts, hope still remains for the future of the organization. There are no public beefs between the players and the coaches. With 11 players falling within the 20-25 category in terms of age, the team also has the sixth-oldest player in league history sharing his wisdom. Third-year forward Taurean Prince has previously said that other teammates have called this year’s Hawks the most together group in the NBA.

It’s apparent that the Hawks like each other, and that connection oozes through the Winging It podcast. The production is co-hosted by Hawks senior coordinator of digital content Annie Finberg, Kent Bazemore and Vince Carter.

Winging It emerged from the Road Trippin’ podcast, which was co-hosted by Finberg, Bazemore and former Hawks center Mike Muscala. This season, with Carter’s desire to transition into broadcasting upon retirement and the opportunities available at The Ringer network, Finberg and Bazemore decided to make the move from Uninterrupted to continue the show.

“Obviously, podcasts became the hot new thing two years ago,” Finberg said. “Baze knows Richard [Jefferson] and everyone at Road Trippin’. I’d always listen to their show, and I loved it, so when I heard about that and that Baze wanted to do it, I made it happen. I had been so into their podcasts that being able to do something similar was really cool for me.”

On Winging It, the trio discuss a bevy of topics, ranging from recovering on back-to-back nights and surviving the trade deadline to Carter and Bazemore’s off-court interest with golf.

“Growing up a huge Vince Carter fan, being able to spend some time with him off the floor and hear some of his stories is great,” Bazemore said. “A lot of the stuff we talk about doesn’t make the cut, but we have a good time, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s something that helps us decompress and show the world who we really are off of the floor.”

The podcast gives fans a new perspective on the NBA lifestyle and specifically the Hawks. Toward the end of last season, the crew brought in Andrew White III and Damion Lee for an episode. White elaborately detailed his chaotic constant switching of taking commercial flights and riding on the team plane during his weeks of playing in the G League playoffs with the Erie Bayhawks and finishing the regular season with the Atlanta Hawks. Lee discussed his climb from tearing his ACL at Drexel, transferring to Louisville, getting his first 10-day opportunity with Atlanta, and of course, his journey from the DMs to marrying into basketball royalty (Lee is married to Sydel Curry, the younger sister of Steph and Seth).

The small anecdotes are ones that you won’t hear in interviews. Bazemore said that Prince once spotted Carter shooting fadeaway threes in the corner.

“You trying to be Kobe?” Prince asked Carter, as Bazemore recalled.

“No,” Carter replied before rising up to shoot another fadeaway corner three-pointer. “I’m trying to be me.”

Carter ended up air-balling the attempt from beyond the arc.

Bazemore also imitates Trae Young’s lisp on the show, another inside team joke that wouldn’t typically be known about without the existence of the show.

The podcast has hosted various guests throughout this season as well, notably active legends Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki in addition to comedians Chris Tucker, Gary Owen and Affion Crockett.

“Each guy is interesting in their own way,” Carter said. “I’ve known Chris Tucker for a while, but I learned different things about him. Knowing Steph [Curry] forever, I learned different things about him. With Affion, I’ve crossed paths with him a couple of times. Some of the stories that Dirk told, I didn’t really know, and he was my teammate for three years. It’s little things like that you tend to learn from guys when you’re doing things like [the podcast]. It’s just been cool giving the world an opportunity to hearing some of their favorite actors, comedians, athletes, and learn something else that you won’t read in any bio around the world.”

Most recently, John Collins and Young joined the show to recap All-Star Weekend and some of the highlights of their seasons so far with the team. Young made headlines after the episode premiered by comparing himself and Luka Doncic to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird where both players could be great during their careers.

The biggest moment of the podcast, however, was when Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala were guests on the show and joked around that they were skeptical if man ever landed on the moon. NASA got word of Curry, Iguodala, Bazemore and Carter’s conspiracy by inviting Curry to tour one of its lunar labs. The Sacramento Kings then played footage of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon as the children’s song “Zoom zoom zoom we’re going to the moon” played as the backtrack when the Golden State Warriors lineup was introduced.

“I honestly didn’t expect it,” Finberg said. “I almost forgot that he even said it until the episode went out. Actually [Peachtree Hoops editor] Brad [Rowland] sent me the link, and I almost responded ‘wait, he said that on our show,’ and then I realized it was about our show. It was cool for our first guest show to have a viral moment.”

A proud graduate of the University of Kansas, Finberg’s professional career began with the Orlando Magic. The ultimate utility employee of the Hawks, Finberg, who can also be followed on her personal @AnnieFinberg Twitter account, can be found taking photos courtside during pregame shoot-around, before editing and uploading the files in the media room, heading back to the court for a live in-arena sideline report, before heading back to the media room, and coming back out in time to record the starting lineup being introduced all before tip-off.

One of Finberg’s niches, however, may be long-form interviewing. During the last offseason, Finberg hosted Hawks On The Clock, a hawks.com audio series where different prospects were interviewed throughout and after the draft process. The interview topics spanned from the typical pre-draft questions about league expectations to yoga and the origins of Mo Bamba, three months before the frat star anthem debuted on Billboard Hot 100.

“The best part of it for me is getting to see the other side of these guys, which is really why I do the podcast,” Finberg said. “To see their human side and non-athlete side. Just to get to know them through friendship, and to know that they’re just another person like us is a good opportunity for us.”

Spending time with one another off the court is also something that Bazemore and Carter enjoy. After only a couple of listens to the Winging It podcast, it’s apparent that the current group of Hawks like each other. With that level of camaraderie, the possibilities with the future of the organization can perhaps...shoot to the moon like Armstrong did in 1969?

“Well, I mean,” Bazemore said after cracking a smile that was followed by a chuckle. “They said he did, so... that’s above my pay grade.”