Matt Barnes, Stephen Jackson have struck gold with “All The Smoke”

All The Smoke
Photo via: Showtime

Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, two respected, longtime former NBA players who hooped together on the Golden State Warriors from 2006-2008, have teamed up with Showtime to produce All The Smoke, the best basketball podcast around. Stamped.

Since being announced four months ago in alignment with the start of the 2019-20 NBA season, All The Smoke has established itself as the mantle in terms of hoops podcasts, and it’s not just due to the fact that they’ve been able to feature Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett, Stephen A. Smith, and the late, great Kobe Bryant (in his last on-air interview) as guests.

What makes Barnes and Jackson’s podcast a treasured listening experience is both its authenticity and ambiance and the two hosts acknowledged that fact in a piece by Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. 

“I think it’s important to create an atmosphere where players have a voice, and that’s what we’ve done with this podcast,” Barnes said. “Our playing style gave us that credibility with guys and letting guys know we’re coming from a real genuine place. 

 “We’re both coming from the same place as far as our opinions, both honest and both real and we both speak for the people. The chemistry is genuine to everybody else because we are really brothers. It’s not just two people working together and faking it on camera.”-Jackson

All The Smoke reminds me of talking hoops with your uncles in the backyard of the summer family function after they’ve downed a couple of beers. Both Barnes and Jackson are OG’s that operate with no agenda, cracking jokes and talking s*** as they please.

At the same time, they’re unafraid of kicking game and prodding at some sensitive topics and issues, humanizing the players that so many of us spend time glorifying on an unworldly level.

They asked Wade about his transgender child during his appearance. When Curry was on the show, they wanted to gain his perspective about the media noise surrounding his wife Ayesha Curry. They aren’t afraid to go there, but it’s not meant to be intrusive. It’s all rooted in attempting to better understand.

All The Smoke just wants to give the players their own voice, not one funneled through other media giants that show a propensity for twisting things up.

Barnes and Jackson are two dudes that truly love the game who are now using their podcast platform as a vehicle for authentic basketball discussions, which is why I believe their guests don’t have any qualms about being forthcoming.

All The Smoke
Photo via: Ian Spanier (Showtime)

It’s no secret that NBA players’ relationship with the media has at times been tumultuous, so it’s refreshing for current NBA-ers to engage in an interview with two men that can not only relate to their current everyday lifestyle and experiences but also aren’t interested in spinning a quote a certain way or conjuring up a sensationalistic story with a misleading headline.

They just want to have a rap and reminisce, while sprinkling in their own input and anecdotes along the way. One watch/listen of the show, and I promise you it’ll be difficult to not appreciate only that fact, but also the content itself.

Barnes is an exceptional interviewer that guides discussions with the moxie of a media veteran, and although he’s technically “new” in operating this space, he’s been seasoned through his interactions with the press during his playing days. He knows what players appreciate and what they don’t, which obviously has influenced the tactful approach he now takes as an interviewer.

Never eager to interject or cut off All The Smoke’s guests, Barnes asks the right questions, carefully studying their responses to see if a follow-up inquiry is necessary. He tells funny stories but doesn’t overbake episodes with his recollections. Most importantly, when the conversation seems to be veering off the path established before the show, Barnes redirects things quickly.

Meanwhile, Jackson keeps things down to Earth. A few people that I’ve recommended All The Smoke to accuse Stack of remaining a little too mum during the course of the show, but for me, it only enriches his commentary. Jackson understands his role, and that we’re tuning in to listen to their guests and not him.

There’s no BS or dramatism with the two hosts on this podcast. Nobody trying to spew hot takes for clout and fandom. Just the real, which isn’t always easy to come by in this age of media production and consumption.

All The Smoke is blazing trails in its inaugural season, cementing itself as one of the best podcasts around. I’m eager to see which guests they can reel in during the remainder of the NBA’s regular-season campaign as well as the postseason. Some players I’d love to see make an appearance include: Allen Iverson, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, John Wall, Ben Simmons, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, and Ja Morant just to name a few.

I’m sure it would be difficult to secure all of the aforementioned hoopers on the podcast in this calendar year, but maybe they’ll be able to grab two or three. I’d definitely like to see guys we don’t typically hear from, or that the public has very pointed opinions about to join the show, so we can better acquaint ourselves with them and possibly reshape our opinion or gain some additional insight about their story.

Regardless, Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson have got a longtime fan in me, and I’m fully confident in saying that if ATS wasn’t on your radar before, one listen will have you converted into an enthusiast. Trust me.


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