10 episodes

At the dawn of the 1980s, the world was moving faster, the media was growing bigger, and greed was finally good. For the NBA, it was a chance to finally step into the spotlight. But all that wealth and stardom came at a deep cost.

This is the story of how basketball reflected a moment when Reagan’s America doubled down on some of its core values: selfishness, violence, and racism -- and the players who paid the price.

Hosted by Adam McKay (The Big Short, Vice, Succession) and produced by HyperObject Industries and Three Uncanny Four

Death at the Wing is part of The Binge - a new channel on apple podcasts. Subscribe to The Binge to unlock all episodes of this show, ad-free, right now.

Your subscription also unlocks the entire network of podcasts on The Binge with a brand new story dropping every month - that’s all episodes, all at once, all ad-free.

Click ‘try free’ at the top of the Death at the Wing show page on Apple Podcasts to start your free trial or visit GetTheBinge.com to get access wherever you get your podcasts.

Death at the Wing The Binge

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.6 • 883 Ratings

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

At the dawn of the 1980s, the world was moving faster, the media was growing bigger, and greed was finally good. For the NBA, it was a chance to finally step into the spotlight. But all that wealth and stardom came at a deep cost.

This is the story of how basketball reflected a moment when Reagan’s America doubled down on some of its core values: selfishness, violence, and racism -- and the players who paid the price.

Hosted by Adam McKay (The Big Short, Vice, Succession) and produced by HyperObject Industries and Three Uncanny Four

Death at the Wing is part of The Binge - a new channel on apple podcasts. Subscribe to The Binge to unlock all episodes of this show, ad-free, right now.

Your subscription also unlocks the entire network of podcasts on The Binge with a brand new story dropping every month - that’s all episodes, all at once, all ad-free.

Click ‘try free’ at the top of the Death at the Wing show page on Apple Podcasts to start your free trial or visit GetTheBinge.com to get access wherever you get your podcasts.

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    1. The Invisible Revolution

    1. The Invisible Revolution

    In the late 70s, basketball was changing rapidly, as was the country. The ABA, a start-up basketball league showcased a faster style of play that captivates fans and introduced a 3-point line to professional basketball. But it was struggling financially. The NBA was just the opposite -- gaining a foothold but lacking that “cool” factor. After a merger, and the rise of satellite TV, everything came together -- Dr. J, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird’s highlights reached fans across the country. Cable and satellite TV would showcase a revolution in the rest of America as well -- and no politician was better equipped for the moment than the movie-star-turned-president, Ronald Reagan. A new era of superstardom and fast living was on the horizon -- one that would also leave many behind.



    Want to get in touch? Email us datw@hyperobjectindustries.com



    Death At The Wing is hosted by Adam McKay (The Big Short, Vice, Succession) and produced by HyperObject Industries and Three Uncanny Four. Jody Avirgan, executive producer and editor, Raghu Manavalan, senior producer, Brian Steele, producer.



    Want to listen to the rest of the season?  Subscribe to The Binge to unlock all episodes of this show, ad-free, right now.



    Your subscription also unlocks the entire network of podcasts on The Binge with a brand new story dropping every month - that’s all episodes, all at once, all ad-free.

    Click ‘try free’ at the top of the Death at the Wing show page on Apple Podcasts to start your free trial or visit GetTheBinge.com to get access wherever you get your podcasts.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 37 min
    2. Terry Furlow and the Crash After The Party

    2. Terry Furlow and the Crash After The Party

    Flint native Terry Furlow, a Michigan State legend, was a mentor to Magic Johnson, and was primed to make it in the new run-and-gun NBA. But Furlow struggled to adjust to the league, and bounced around from team to team, just at the same moment that a party culture was taking over the NBA and the country. Stories of rampant cocaine use plague the league, and what was once a fun party drug reveals a darker side. In the end, the league and the country decide to react not by supporting their own, but by framing drug use as a personal failing through three simple words: “Just Say No.”

    3. Len Bias and the Crack Panic

    3. Len Bias and the Crack Panic

    A cocaine overdose claims the life of collegiate superstar and ‘can’t miss prospect’ Len Bias before he ever plays in the NBA for the Boston Celtics. This causes a moral and political panic. Weeks after his death, the Reagan administration, with overwhelming Democratic support, passes the "Len Bias Law," installing mandatory minimum sentences and a system that prioritizes incarceration over rehabilitation. As one writer put it, Len Bias became the “Archduke Ferdinand of the total War on Drugs.”

    4. Benji Wilson and Chicago’s Flood of Guns

    4. Benji Wilson and Chicago’s Flood of Guns

    The ‘next Magic Johnson’ gets murdered after an argument outside a Chicago High School. Chicago residents had been scapegoated by politicians and cut off from social services for decades, leaving a vacuum for a flood of guns and violence in the 1980s. Benji’s death was a product of that neglect, but his legacy may provide a path to hope.

    5. Ricky Berry and the Pressures of Fame

    5. Ricky Berry and the Pressures of Fame

    A shooting guard considered 'Reggie Miller with a handle' commits suicide, at a time when the country is ill-equipped to talk about mental health.

    6. Drazen Petrovic and Basketball’s Cold War

    6. Drazen Petrovic and Basketball’s Cold War

    Thanks to the 1992 “Dream Team,” basketball becomes a truly global brand. Overseas stars begin to make it in the United States, the land of opportunity, even as US foreign policy leads many parts of the world to fracture.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
883 Ratings

883 Ratings

mygirlpearl ,

Great podcast

I’m not a huge basketball fan perhaps because I’m a 72 year old grandma but I’m loving this. Mr. McKay is an outstanding host and the stories are so interesting. Love it!

CrookedCat ,

A great thread through history, sports, politics and social issues

This is a well done podcast. Content and production are top-notch.

McKay pulls together some complex topics to weave tight storytelling.

anna regina ii ,

Ray-gan not reg-en

Good but it’s like nails on a chalkboard hearing president Reagan’s name pronounced reg-en

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