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Saturday Sports: Aaron Rodgers' Uncertain Future With The Packers

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: Could Aaron Rodgers soon give away his cheesehead hat? NBA teams jockey for postseason positions. And speaking of jockeys, nothing about the Kentucky Derby, but they'll still run it today. And, of course, horses are among our best listeners. We're joined by ESPN's Howard Bryant. Good morning, Howard.

HOWARD BRYANT, BYLINE: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: Aaron Rodgers, one of the greatest quarterbacks in history - read the tea leaves for us, Howard. Are he and the Packers on the verge of a divorce?

BRYANT: Well, it looks pretty close in some ways. It all goes back to last year's draft, when the Green Bay Packers traded up and drafted a quarterback without consulting their greatest quarterback or one of their greatest quarterbacks in history, their best player. And he reminded them of that this year by suggesting that he wants out a year later. So let's just say that people remember the old slights.

The only problem is, is that he's under contract until 2023, and they really don't have to do anything. The Packers do not have to trade him. The question is going to be, how big of a stink does he make? How much does he force the issue? At some point, you sort of realize that you don't really want to keep a guy that doesn't want to be there, but he is Aaron Rodgers. And the return that you would have to get to trade for him or to trade him would be pretty big.

So they may just sort of let this thing blow over. But if Aaron Rodgers really wants to ruin the season for the Green Bay Packers and wants out, then they're probably going to have to move him. That's usually how these things end. But in the NFL, the players - the ownership has all the power when it comes to these contracts.

SIMON: NBA season - regular season's about to come to an end. Postseason's coming. Who do you have your eyes on?

BRYANT: Well, last night, actually, we got something pretty special. You got - Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics scored 60 points, tying Larry Bird's record...

SIMON: An amazing game, amazing...

BRYANT: ...In an amazing game. They were down by 32 points. And he comes and - they were down 77 to 48. And it was just an incredible comeback. It always comes down to the same thing right now, which is the best players because it's the NBA.

SIMON: LeBron.

BRYANT: And it's LeBron James who is injured but who's coming back. And when he comes back, the Lakers are going to be another favorite in the West. And then, of course, it's New - I mean, did I say New Jersey? The Brooklyn Nets.

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: It is the Brooklyn Nets with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. I think these are the two best teams. But also, let's not forget Denver - Nikola Jokic is looking at the MVP - and Philadelphia. They're second seed as well. But I would be very surprised if it didn't come down to LeBron and K.D. once again.

SIMON: This is NPR - K.D. meaning Kevin Durant.

BRYANT: (Laughter) Or my favorite, K.D. Lang, whom I love.

SIMON: K.D. Lang is in the NBA playoffs this year.

BRYANT: She's the real MVP.

SIMON: Oh, you know, year after year.

BRYANT: (Laughter).

SIMON: I want to talk a bit for a moment this week that reminds us of the utterly unique appeal of baseball. The Chicago Cubs, of whom you may have heard, were down 10 to 1, 10 to nothing against Atlanta. David Ross, the manager, calls in Anthony Rizzo, his first baseman, to pitch against Freddie Freeman, last year's MVP, because, you know, why waste a real relief pitcher when you're 10 runs behind? Freddie Freeman already had four hits, including a home run. And what an utterly charming scene to see the two players just laughing at the improbability of it. And then what happened, Howard?

BRYANT: And then the first baseman struck out the other first baseman. And it's amazing. These are the little quirks of baseball - this is the reason why we love this sport. And there are so many great things happening in the game this year, especially Padres-Dodgers. And it's a real rivalry. And it's sort of the West Coast version of Red Sox-Yankees. But that little moment - and there are going to be so many of them during the season. But baseball is just slow enough that you can sort of enjoy these things. And this sport has to have fun, and that was a really fun moment.

SIMON: Yeah, it was just terrific. Well, ESPN's Howard Bryant, thanks so much for being with us, my friend. Talk to you soon.

BRYANT: Thank you, Scott.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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