‘Best gig in sports journalism’: Stein, Strauss reflect on covering Warriors’ fast start
From the Oct. 27 tip-off game in Oakland through the Dec. 11 double-overtime thriller in Boston, no team could beat the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors during the first month-and-a-half of the 2015-16 regular season. In all, their win streak reached 24 games before it came to a halt Dec. 12 against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Back at home tonight in Oracle Arena, Steph Curry and the Warriors host the Phoenix Suns (10:30 p.m., ESPN) in their first game since the loss to the Bucks.
ESPN NBA Insider Marc Stein – who has followed the Warriors since Dec. 2 – and ESPN Warriors beat writer Ethan Sherwood Strauss discuss their experiences covering the team with Front Row.
– Marc Stein
What assignments in your career compare to this one?
Stein: Focusing completely on one team in November and December took me back to my beat-writing days a long time ago, which wound up reminding me of a much sadder streak. In 1994-95, during my first full season covering the NBA, I covered the Los Angeles Clippers for the LA Daily News and watched them start that season at 0-16, which at the time fell only one loss short of the worst start in league history.
Strauss: Nothing’s been comparable. Covering their Finals run was memorably hectic, but this streak was an extended national phenomenon. I wasn’t expecting to see road crowds lose their minds over this team.
What are the upsides/downsides of covering a team that jumps off to an historic start?
Stein: Fortunately for me, I have an amazing wife and two understanding kids who have come to accept that I’m going to be gone a lot. I know how lucky I am. This is my 23rd season covering the league and my second season where I’m spending a lot of time following the Warriors around. And as I wrote the other day, chasing this fun team around is the best gig in sports journalism.
– Ethan Sherwood Strauss
Strauss: The upside is you’re covering something that you’ll always remember, something that feels just a bit bigger than sports. The downside is all the attention a story that big attracts. Suddenly, the locker room is replete with attending media, changing the dynamics of when and if you get access to certain people.
As a national NBA reporter/ESPN Insider, how did you prioritize your reporting beats?
Stein: Trying to keep track of what’s happening around the league is just something that you’re always doing. But the reality is that trade season in the NBA is just now heating up. From mid-December through the trade deadline in mid-February is when you see most of the action. The Warriors’ streak came at a time where NBA teams are generally still figuring themselves out and less inclined to make major changes.
What are your thoughts on the Warriors as they enter tonight’s game now 24-1?
Strauss: My thoughts are, ‘How do they get back to their old ways?’ The Warriors know their game was slipping toward the end of the streak. That augurs well for improvement going forward, but it will be difficult for them to reach a certain level with [forward] Harrison Barnes still out with a sprained ankle.