Oh finally, a quality sports book written by someone my age. My kingdom for such a book. Thank you, Ethan Sherwood Strauss. To not have to deal with condescensions such as “Hey, ya know young fella, ol’ Michael Jordan never had Twitter. Larry Bird wasn’t on Facebook. Magic Johnson didn’t mess with the internets. We had to get our highlights the old fashioned way” as if it’s inconceivable that people realize there was a world before they were born.
At any rate, that’s a big reason why I loved this book: it takes a mature, age appropriate look at both the Warriors and the NBA at large. Strauss, a writer I usually like though am not overly fond of, is wise not to structure this book with a year-by-year or blow-by-blow outline. Instead, he chooses his chapters thematically: one on the purchase of the Warriors, one on Durant, one on the NBA’s sneaker wars, etc. The result is less a diary of the Golden State Warriors dominance and more a snapshot as to what the NBA looks like right now and how winning doesn’t always make you happy. Some have compared this to Dave Halberstam’s legendary The Breaks of the Game and while I wouldn’t say it was that good, it’s an apt comparison: this is what a league looks like in a moment of uncertainty.
A lot of people will read this for the gossipy stuff surrounding Durant. If you do so, you’re probably going to be disappointed. This is a context novel: explaining the reasons why things happen rather than what actually happened. That makes it a far more interesting read than it otherwise would have been. I don’t know that I got a deeper sense of what made the individuals associated with the Warriors tick but I did get a deeper sense at what made them all so ticked off: the joylessness of success in a consumer-driven post-Jordan league.
My only real complaint, aside from wishing the Bob Myers chapter had been at the beginning and not near the end, is that the book was too short. I could’ve done another 100-150 pages easy. But I guess Strauss felt he said all he needed to say. I suppose what he said was enough. It was really good.