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Shea Serrano Q&A: JTA love, Warriors takes, Steph's theme music originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Shea Serrano is a writer, podcaster, author and he just might be the most genuinely liked personality on Twitter. His latest book, "Hip-Hop (And Other Things)," which is illustrated by artist Arturo Torres, made the two the first Mexican Americans to make the New York Times Best Sellers List four times.
He just so happens to also be the world's biggest Juan Toscano-Anderson fan as well as a huge fan of the San Antonio Spurs.
The interview has been slightly edited for clarity.
Dalton Johnson: The Warriors are off to a red-hot start this season. What have you thought of them, especially bringing back some of the good vibes of the past teams?
Shea Serrano: They look tough. Steph has just been out of his f--king mind. It seems like every time I turn the TV on, they're like 'Steph is up to 41 again. Put the Warriors game on.' It's been great to watch, because it does feel like when they were on the way up again.
There was definitely a period of Warriors fatigue, especially after they got [Kevin] Durant. It wasn't fun. It wasn't as fun as the 73-9 season when it was Steph and Klay and Dray and they're just f--king running everybody off the court. It was like you're watching basketball magic.
Watching them this year, it feels like that again, which is great because I think that's like the whole point of the Warriors and the NBA is to do that. Who knows what happens when Klay gets back, but we're talking about the two greatest shooters ever in the history of basketball and they're on the same team and it's just f--king cool to watch. Steph, it feels like he's getting ready for Klay to be there with him again.
And then you add a Jordan Poole who has been putting up points, and you're right -- it does remind me of that 73-win team and Jordan Poole has a little bit of that Klay in him.
Yeah, yeah. They're just a fun team.
You've had some great tweets about Juan Toscano-Anderson. Where did you first hear about him?
So, a thing's been happening for several years for me where any time anything at all has anything to do with Mexicans, I get a million tweets in a row about it, like immediately. Immediately! So when Juan started popping up, he was in the Mexican League and they were like, 'Hey, there's a player down here.' This was like 2018 or somethin' like that, 2017. They'd send me little clips of him, then you start reading about him and you realize, oh he's Mexican, too. Obviously, his name is Juan.
You start to get plugged in a bit and you're waiting. Is he going to make it to the league? And then he ends up on the Warriors, and is out there running around like a madman diving into the stands and s--t. You're just like, 'Yeah, all right -- I'm in.' When was it, last year that he signed his deal with the Warriors?
Yeah, he called his mom and was crying at the podium. It was awesome.
Yeah, it was so great to watch that happen. So probably 2018 was the first I had heard his name -- 2017, 2018, somewhere around there. I know 2020 especially, he was a thing. And then when he signed his proper deal and you knew he was going to be in the league for a few years, we were all celebrating that it happened.
We were celebrating like he was related to us, which is crazy.
I saw him give you some love back after you shouted him out on a recent "Real Ones" with Logan Murdock. Have you and Juan ever connected?
Not anything beyond something like that. Just in passing, 'Hey, I'm a fan of yours. I'm rooting for you.' That sort of thing. I've never been the type to try and chase down interactions with players. I just like to sit in the stands and watch and cheer. That's where I'm the most comfortable. I don't want to try and be friends with NBA players or whatever. [Laughs.]
That's not good for my ego to just be around 6-foot-6 multi-millionaires.
No. 1, yeah, I'm still the No. 1 Juan Toscano-Anderson fan in America. And No. 2, no, I turned the jersey down because I didn't want to get it for free. I have to buy it. That's why I asked them not to send it to me for free, because what kind of ass would I be if I just didn't buy the jersey.
We finally, after years and years -- it was him and Devin Booker at the same time, are you kidding me. We went from ... it was Eduardo Nájera before for the Dallas Mavericks, who was awesome, he was in the league, great. But he was never seen as cool, never cool. And Juan and Devin are both top-level cool.
In such different ways, too.
Exactly. In completely different ways. It's just great. It's so much fun watching Juan play basketball. You're just like, f--k yeah.
Juan's an Oakland native living his dream playing for the Warriors. How important is his representation as a Mexican American athlete for young fans?
It feels different now that I'm an old man. He's younger than me, so I feel less like you would when you were a kid.
Here's a perfect example. When I was coaching basketball at the middle school where I was teaching, this was somewhere around 2013 or 2014 -- this was a predominantly Latino school but we had two Asian kids on the team. We were doing the jersey selection day, we're passing out jerseys, come get your jerseys, and they both come in and one's was like, 'Coach, coach, coach! Let me get the No. 7, let me get that No. 7!' And I was like, 'All right, go ahead, you can have it. What's going on with No. 7?' And he just looked at me and he was like, 'Jeremy Lin!' I was just like, oh s--t, that's f--kin' cool.
I imagine if you're a kid right now on a middle school basketball team, a high school basketball team, an under-12 basketball team, it feels like a super special thing. I feel now like I'm watching the generation beneath me advance further. That's like what you want as a parent. You want your kids to do better than you did. It feels like a version of that for me now. [Juan's] taking it past where everybody in my generation was able to get it. We have this new person who shows up and advances it forward for everybody behind him. So that's more what it feels like for me, which is special in a different way.
Steph plays the game so much different than anything we've ever seen and has influenced this next generation. If he had a theme song for when he was on the court, what would it be?
You need like what ballet dancers dance to. Because Steph, when he shoots the ball, it's like art. You're looking at a painting. Maybe a better answer is whatever music they play inside the Guggenheim when you're walking around looking at stuff. That's what plays in my head when I'm watching him shoot.
Remember that one clip where he just f--king shredded the entire Clippers defense? There's a great slow-motion video of that that was going around. It's like No. 1, how are you doing that? It felt like more than basketball, which is a very romantic way to describe it, but that's what it felt like to watch him do that behind-the-back thing, run to the top of the key, the free throw line, falling backwards and throw up that rainbow shot and watch it drop in there.
You need music like that. No words or anything. Like in the movies, when they play a sound to let you know you're looking at something special.
Have you ever seen someone as universally loved as Klay Thompson?
Yeah, he's one of those players everybody just loves him. No. 1, because he's terrifying on the court. If Klay Thompson hits two 3s in a row, it's just like, 'Well f--k, we're dead. We're going to die now. That's going to happen.' And he goes nuts in a game in only a way that Klay Thompson can go nuts. He's going to score 60 points and dribble the ball maybe 12 times. You see that after the game and whatever the numbers were and you're like, 'What the f--k?! How do you do that?!' So there's that part.
He also just seems like the nicest guy having the best time. But nice in a way that's almost a little intimidating. Not nice in a Mr. Rogers way, but nice like when there was a kid at your school who was a black belt and everybody knew he was a black belt but he never said he was a black belt. Just don't f--k with that guy.
That's Klay, he's great. That's another example. When he did that head hanging out the window video, I had 400 people send that to me.
When he was out in Mexico.
Right. I was like, 'All right, he gets to be part of our Mexican basketball team now.'
I have to ask this. Is Kerr, Steph, Draymond and Klay the new Pop, Duncan, Tony and Ginobli? Or do you want to punch me in the face just asking that?
I don't think they're there yet. I don't think so. Oh, that's a good question. If they can put together two or three more years, then you can have that discussion. How many titles do they have? Three, right?
But one of them you have to throw out, because Kevin Durant. So really, they have two. So they have two titles. So they need three more titles, but with that group all together. Then I'd feel OK saying it.
I don't think Kerr is anywhere near as good of coach as Pop is. The Warriors and the Spurs are connected in a bunch of interesting different ways. One of which is we were the team y'all played in the playoffs when everybody realized y'all were going to be dangerous. This was before y'all had won anything. It was the year before.
Steph came in and started doing him and everybody was like what the f--k is happening right now? We were supposed to blow y'all out. And Steph was not having it, and it was terrifying. I remember that playoff series happening. I never paid attention to the Warriors before then. I paid attention to Steph when he was at Davidson because everybody was making such a big deal and then got into the league and for a brief second he had ankle issues and it was like, it's probably not going to work out for this guy. Then that series happened and you're like, oh s--t, it's going to super work out for this guy, and he's just been nuts.
I remember I tweeted, I think it was that year after we played y'all and I was like, if Steph wins a championship, it's going to be over for everybody for the next five years. Whenever you win the title, everything changes. Same thing's happening when we were watching Giannis this year. When he won that title last year, everyone's just like, 'Well, f--k.' They get that taste -- the championship-winning taste -- and they know what it takes to win it and they want it more than anybody else or as much as anybody else, but also, they have the advantage of knowing how to do it.
The Warriors are great, man. That's what's scary this year. They have that same we're-on-the-way-up energy, but you have Steph and Dray, who have done it already. You know that Draymond is in Jordan Poole's ear every game, just getting him ready for the playoffs.
Yeah, he is.