After working for ESPN and The Athletic, Ethan Strauss moved to Substack, and that move freed him to share a lot of interesting stories he previously couldn’t. The journalist most known for his clash with Kevin Durant (and Radio Ethan for podcast OGs) shared his “welcome to the NBA” moment, and it’s a doozy.
An insider on the insiders
Strauss’ work is behind the paywall, and if you are interested in the unfiltered opinions of someone who was always a bit of a contrarian, I strongly recommend it. When I say unfiltered, I mean talking about Klutch’s conflict of interest, the weird behind-the-scenes campaign Woj is doing to promote his power, and the NBA’s relationship to China.
Strauss talked about his welcome to the NBA moment on a recent episode of his podcast, a situation that painted a clear picture of how different a lifestyle NBA players lead.
“A "welcome to the NBA" moment for me. A player had a really great game, and in the locker room one of the journalists asked 'Well, what are you going to do to celebrate?' He said, blase, not trying to make a joke, without a hint of irony 'Ah, f**k two Spanish girls tonight.'”
Ethan Strauss, House of Strauss podcast
If I had a nickel for every time I said something like that... From this day on, every time an NBA player, paid millions to play a game, start talking about how we don’t see the sacrifice, the pain of injuries and rehab, and all the other things they go through - I’ll think of this quote.
Locker room access
After Straus told this story, the guest on the episode, Ross Barkan, asked a logical question.” Was that written about, reported, or tweeted?” Obviously, the answer is no. Strauss explained there’s an understanding certain topics are not to be covered, even if no one says “off the record.” Barkan expected that answer and explained why he thinks that’s a problem in covering modern sports.
One knock I have on contemporary sports journalism, and you can tell me if you agree with me - you probably would. I feel I know less and less about players and what goes on behind the scenes than I do about the old days. I can tell you more about where the 1950s Yankees went out to party than I could the 2021 Yankees. I'm using the Yankees as an example because I'm a Yankees fan.
Ross Barkan, House of Strauss podcast
We can confirm that’s the case. A little peek behind the scenes at Basketball Network. Two of our most popular articles in 2021 - Shaq sharing a wild story about seeing Rodman in a nightclub: “A lot of girls, some of them taking their tops off” and Allen Iverson’s 10-men system for picking up women at NBA games - are both part of our most popular category “Old School.” It’s not just because people are nostalgic, but because there is no way stories like these get reported about modern NBA.
One of the biggest victims in the NBA experience due to COVID will be the fans, and that’s because players will try to make the rule that media doesn’t get locker room access permanent, even when we get rid of this damn pandemic. Throughout the years, players are more and more isolated from coverage, and locker room access was the last place where reporters could develop relationships and trust with the players.
Hopefully, that doesn’t happen, and everyone realizes that for every ten annoying questions, there’s also one a David Halbestram or Jackie MacMullan want to ask, ready to tell stories that will make entire generations fall in love with the game we love.
P.S. The cover photo is in no way trying to insinuate Draymond was that player. Strauss didn't use any names, and we have no idea who it was.