School of Hardwood Knocks #8 - Ethan Sherwood Strauss
The cream of the crop show their best crossover moves as roles are reversed and interviewer becomes interviewee.
Welcome to the School of Hardwood Knocks. Alternatively known as “Interviews with the NBA’s Leading Journalists and Bloggers”, we continue the series with the talented Ethan Sherwood Strauss.
Originating from Oakland, CA, Ethan is an established NBA journalist who has had pieces published on sites such as HoopSpeak, ESPN Truehoop and WarriorsWorld. He is also a fervent follower of the Golden State Warriors, relishing their new-found success in recent seasons.
Not only is he an extremely talented, engaging wordsmith, possessing a keenly analytical mind, but he is also one of a rare breed of sports writers who can legitimately be referred to as “endearingly opinionated”. The fact that he is unafraid to express his opinions, even if they might be too polarising, has most certainly worked in his favour. Fans of basketball have become increasingly savvy and discerning in recent years, with finely tuned ‘bullshit detectors’. As far as credibility goes, Ethan is considered to be the real deal, with his double-barrelled name a fitting analogy for the power behind some of his inspired writing.
The Pick and Roll’s Michael Tozer caught up with Ethan to discuss such wide ranging topics as stranger anger, Andrew Bogut, passive-aggressive behaviour and why he believes Kobe Bryant is the greatest of all time.. as an interview subject that is.
Q: At what age did you aspire to become a journalist, and do you remember that moment when it all began?
I’ve mostly trundled through life without aspirations. Most of what I do is just something that seemed fun at the time. Back in college, I applied to write for The Daily Californian because I enjoyed newspapers and magazines. That got most of this started.
Q: Is there anything that drives your writing, and would you call writing your first and foremost passion in life?
There’s this buzz I get when I finally give structure to the amorphous idea in my head. I keep chasing that feeling.
Q: How did you find yourself to be a part of all the NBA journalism scene, and was there anything in particular you had to do to get your works published on sites like ESPN?
Rasheed Malek of WarriorsWorld tweeted out that they needed a writer. I applied, wrote some pieces. A mutual friend then put me in touch with Beckley Mason and I started contributing to HoopSpeak too. It’s a fairly boring origins story, but that’s what happened. The only (marginally) interesting aspect is that the mutual friend I share with Beckley knows nothing about basketball.
Q: As a Portland fan, I’m curious to get your opinion on this. Where do you think the Blazers are headed this season?
They had a good offseason and they’re better than their record last season (Because they tanked the final stretch). I’d say Portland just misses the playoffs.
Q: What do you do with the “hate” and “spam” comments on your pieces, is there anything you would want to say to the people who incite such negativity?
Good question. I’m becoming less annoyed with the stranger anger as time goes on. Sometimes, usually when I’m sleep deprived and irritable, that stuff bugs me. I’m not sure there’s much to be done about it other than to remind yourself that it’s all fairly ephemeral. It’s better to just work harder on the next article than to obsess over how mad people are about the last one.
Q: It must be good to see the Warriors finally have success come their way. Being an Australian, I have to ask this: how do you see Andrew Bogut fitting into the rotation, and what possibilities he will bring during the season?
I love Bogut’s game, and see him fitting in wonderfully. Health is the lone concern. As for possibilities, Bogut’s defensive presence and rebounding ability allows the Warriors to go smaller at the power forward position.
Q: From the perspective of a journalist, which period of the NBA season is your favourite?
I enjoy the playoffs.
Q: How do social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook affect the way you work?
Twitter certainly makes me more easily distracted. I’m trying to tweet less often, but it’s an addiction. Though I love social media, I also think there’s a danger in believing it’s a real place. If you spend too much time there, you’ll miss out on reading, writing, and life in general.
Q: I’m sure you have interviewed quite a few individuals in your career; who was your favourite subject, and why?
Rajon Rondo made for a great interview. Kobe Bryant’s my favorite interview subject, though. Whenever he comes through Oracle, he’ll always say casually say something profound, subversive, or just, different. MJ might have been the greatest player ever, but Kobe’s the interview GOAT.
Q: What would you say was your most awkward moment interview moment? What are some tips you could give to young aspiring journalists such as myself to avoid similar situations?
Sometimes a player doesn’t like what I wrote and they’ll confront me either directly or passive aggressively. I’d say aspiring writers should embrace those situations. It’s uncomfortable, but there’s pride in being honest despite the discomfort.
Q: Finally, what do you love most about the NBA? Is it the thrill of seeing athletes perform, the rich discussions between journalists, or perhaps, something else altogether?
I just believe it’s a beautiful game.
For more Ethan Sherwood Strauss:
Ethan is also found on Twitter at @SherwoodStrauss