Ethan Sherwood Strauss is a prominent and well-respected sports journalist who covers the Golden State Warriors as a senior writer for The Athletic. Before he joined The Athletic, he spent time at ESPN and in the NBA public relations department.
The prestigious journalist recently wrote a book entitled The Victory Machine: The Making & Unmaking of the Warriors Dynasty, which he discusses the rise and fall of the Warriors’ dynasty from 2015 to 2019. Strauss recently spoke to The Hype Magazine, his book, which is set to be released on April 14, 2020.
Landon Buford: Your new book The Victory Machine is set to be released on April 14Th, and it zeros in on the Warriors dynasty. Why did you feel this is the best time to release it?
Ethan Strauss: I think it’s a little bit of distances between the rise and the fall of it, but also an element of that it was fresh in our minds. And when it comes to basketball. And we tend to be more intrigued by the fall of great teams than the rise. I think it is because we watched the rise, and we enjoyed it, and it doesn’t require any explanation when you are watching Shaq and Kobe play great basketball with one another, but when that doesn’t work with stain. When the great playing basketball isn’t enough and the egos involved, it becomes somewhat of a Greek tragedy. So, we enjoy consuming that in retrospect, just because it says something about the human condition. Now, I don’t know if this is the exact ideal time to tell this story, but it is a time to tell this story because I don’t think the Warriors will be as dominant, they just were. Even if they recapture some success.
Landon Buford: Kevin Durant has been on the record stating one of the reasons he left the Warriors because he didn’t feel appreciated in Golden State. You were one of many Warriors reporters during Durant’s tenure did you find that to be true?
Ethan Strauss: Yes! That is an honest response from him, and it is true for a variety of reasons. One is that they drafted Steph [Curry], and there’s going to be more of an attachment when the fans see a guy grow up when they see him making that leap to is he going to be someone great to realizing his potential and that’s just an attachment they can’t replicate.
Then other players that sign on, but there are elements with it too, which is Steph is not insecure, and he doesn’t need to be showered with love, and ironically, he ends up getting that love. With Kevin [Durant], it seems to be the opposite where he seems to need the love and the fans sense it, and they withhold a little bit of that love.
There also another element to it, too, okay, Kevin Durant might have not received support and praise that he sought out, but he continued to sign a one-year deal after a one-year contract. The fans are only going to commit so much to a player that is not going to commit to them. It’s not blaming anyone on either side; it is just a logical result that Durant was signing on for.
Landon Buford: Many felt the turning point last season for the Warriors was on November 13, 2018, at the end of regulation between the Los Angeles Clippers and Warriors. When Durant and Draymond Green could be seen in a heated argument after Green opted not to pass him the ball and lost control of it as time expired. Do you think Green was used as the scapegoat?
I don’t think anyone consciously made him the scapegoat, but I think he became somewhat of a scapegoat. The idea that it is his fault that Kevin Durant left is crazy to me. Look players yell at each other and get into arguments, and ultimately if the situation is compelling enough, everyone works it out.
And the reason why Draymond [Green] was yelling in part because Kevin Durant already had one foot out the door. I think this idea that it was some type of turning point or it would have gone differently, I just don’t think that’s the case. And I say that as someone that has been yelled at by Draymond [Green] in certain situations. He gets heated, and he changes his mind about things, and you can have conversations, and that all could have happened. I think that it was a theatrical event, and it was an individual situation for the team to handle at the time, but I don’t see it as any type of turning point that decided the fate of Kevin Durant.
Landon Buford: Do you think Durant left the Warriors because he felt like he learned how to win championships and now wanted to win at least one without the guidance of Steph, Draymond, Klay, Andre, and Steve Kerr?
Ethan Strauss: Well, that might have been one of the aspects of his justification, and I can’t tell you everything that is going on in his own head but think some of it that it never really changed his status. He won those championships, but didn’t change his status, and the basketball world didn’t say Kevin Durant was the best player, he outplayed Lebron James in that series. However, the fans looked at it as LeBron [James] didn’t have enough help Kevin Durant joined a 73-win team who cares. Yeah, you won a ring, but we don’t hold it in the same regards as LeBron [James] winning one in Cleveland in 2016. So, joining the Warriors even though it resulted in a championship didn’t really do the trick that Kevin Durant wanted it to.
And knowing that he wasn’t happy and wanted to make another by joining a friend in Kyrie [Irving] with the Nets, who haven’t won a ring before, and having his own situation was appealing. It’s a little weird that it’s the Brooklyn Nets. I don’t think many people outside the Brooklyn Nets Organization that is a plan that didn’t make a tremendous amount of sense for his legacy, but whatever. If that is what makes him happy, that makes him happy.
Landon Buford: Do you think the Warriors have learned from the experience with Kevin Durant in terms of how to approach big-name free agents going forward?
Ethan Strauss: I think there isn’t anything to learn, and that is what my book is about. Your ultimate goal as a basketball operation as a GM is to be a victim of your own success. Its to acquire stars of such incredible value that you really can’t tell them anything because they are the boss of you. After all, they have that much power. That is your job. Your job is to almost rendering yourself entirely vulnerable for something like this happening, and there isn’t much one can do to make a superstar happy unless they have a particular personality. You want to run a competent organization as much as you can, but I don’t think there is a lesson that the Warriors can take from this. Saying next time it happens, we’re going to know how to keep that guy in the fold
Originally posted on The Hype Magazine.