Shea Serrano is a writer, podcaster, author and he is perhaps the most personality really appreciated on Twitter. His latest book, “Hip-Hop (And Other Things)”, illustrated by artist Arturo Torres, made the two men the first Mexican Americans to appear four times on the New York Times bestseller list.
He also happens to be the biggest Juan Toscano-Anderson fan in the world as well as a huge San Antonio Spurs fan.
NBC Sports Bay Area recently caught up with Serrano to talk about his thoughts on this season’s Warriors squad, his love for JTA, the greatness of Steph Curry, the fandom of Klay Thompson and more.
The interview has been edited slightly for clarity.
Dalton Johnson: The Warriors have had a scorching start to the season. What did you think of them, especially bringing back some of the good vibes from past teams?
Serrano Shea: They look tough. Steph just lost his mind. I feel like every time I turn on the TV they say ‘Steph is 41 again. Put on the Warriors game. It’s great to watch, because it feels like they’re coming back up again.
There was certainly a period of Warriors fatigue, especially after they had had [Kevin] During. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t as much fun as the 73-9 season when it was Steph, Klay, and Dray and they’re just shoving everyone off the pitch. It was like watching the magic of basketball.
Watching them this year, it’s still like that, which is great because I think that’s the whole point of the Warriors and the NBA is to do it. Who knows what happens when Klay returns, but we’re talking about the two greatest shooters in basketball history and they’re on the same team and it’s just super cool to watch. Steph, it looks like he’s getting ready for Klay to be here with him again.
And then you add a Jordan Poole who scored points, and you’re right – it reminds me of that 73-game winning team and Jordan Poole has a bit of that Klay in him.
Yeah yeah. It’s just a fun team.
You’ve had some great tweets about Juan Toscano-Anderson. Where did you first hear about him?
So, something has been going on for several years for me where every time something has something to do with Mexicans, I get a million tweets in a row about it, like immediately. At once! So when Juan started showing up he was in the Mexican League and they were like, “Hey, there’s a player here.” It was like 2018 or something like that, 2017. They would send me little clips of him and then you start reading about him and you realize, oh he’s Mexican too. Obviously his name is Juan.
You start to plug in a bit and wait. Will he arrive in the league? And then he ends up on the Warriors, and is out running around like a madman, diving into the stands and shit. You’re just like, ‘Yeah, okay, I’m in it.’ When was it last year that he signed his contract with the Warriors?
Yes, he called his mother and was crying on the podium. It was awesome.
Yeah, it was so great to see that happen. So probably 2018 was the first time I heard his name – 2017, 2018, somewhere around there. I know 2020 above all, it was one thing. And then when he signed his good contract and you knew he was going to be in the league for a few years, we were all celebrating what happened.
We were celebrating like he was related to us, which is crazy.
I saw it give you some love after yelling it out over a recent “Real Ones” with Logan Murdock. Have you ever connected with Juan?
Nothing beyond something like this. Just by the way, ‘Hey, I’m a fan of you. I am rooted for you. That sort of thing. I’ve never been the type to try to drive out interactions with players. I just like to sit in the stands, watch and cheer. This is where I am most comfortable. I don’t want to try to be friends with NBA players or anything. [Laughs.]
It’s not good for my ego to be just a multimillionaire around 6ft 6in.
No. 1, yes, I’m still the No. 1 Juan Toscano-Anderson fan in America. And number 2, no, I refused the jersey because I didn’t want to have 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 didn’t buy the jersey.
We finally, after years and years – it was him and Devin Booker at the same time, you are laughing at me. We went from … it was Eduardo Nájera before for the Dallas Mavericks, who was great, he was in the league, great. But he was never considered cool, never cool. And Juan and Devin are both top level cool.
In so different ways too.
Exactly. In completely different ways. It’s just awesome. It’s so much fun watching Juan play basketball. You’re just like, fuck yeah.
Juan is originally from Oakland and is living his dream playing for the Warriors. How important is his portrayal as a Mexican-American athlete to young fans?
It’s different now that I’m an old man. He’s younger than me, so I feel less like you when you were a kid.
Here is a perfect example. When I was a basketball coach in the college I taught, it was around 2013 or 2014 – it was a predominantly Latino school but we had two Asian kids on the team. We were doing jersey selection day, we were handing out jerseys, come and get your jerseys, and they both come in and one of them was like, “Coach, coach, coach! Let me take # 7, let me take # 7! ‘ And I was like, ‘Alright, go ahead, you can have it. What’s going on with # 7? ‘ And he just looked at me and he said, ‘Jeremy Lin!’ I was just like, oh shit, that’s fucking cool.
I imagine if you are a kid right now on a college basketball team, a high school basketball team, an under 12 basketball team, that looks like a super special thing. . I now have the impression of watching the generation below me advance further. It’s like what you want as a parent. You want your kids to do better than you. It sounds like a version of it to me now. [Juan’s] get it where everyone in my generation got it. We have this new person coming forward and pushing him forward for everyone behind him. It’s more how I feel about myself, which is special in a different way.
Steph is playing the game so unlike anything we’ve ever seen and has influenced this next generation. If he had a theme song for when he was on the pitch, what would it be?
You need what ballet dancers dance to. Because Steph, when he shoots the ball, it’s like art. You are looking at a painting. Maybe a better answer is the music they play inside the Guggenheim as you walk around watching stuff. That’s what goes through my mind when I watch him shoot.
Remember that clip where he just shredded the entire Clippers defense? There is a great slow motion video of this going around. It’s like # 1, how do you do that? It was more than basketball, which is a very romantic way to describe it, but that’s what it felt like watching him do that thing behind his back, run to the top of the sideline, the line. free throws, fall back and throw that rainbow shot and watch it fall in there.
You need music like this. No words or anything. Like in the movies, when they play a sound to let you know you are watching something special.
Have you ever seen someone as universally loved as Klay Thompson?
Yep, he’s one of those players that everyone loves him. No. 1, because he’s terrifying on the court. If Klay Thompson hits two 3s in a row, it’s like, ‘Well, damn, we’re dead. We are going to die now. It will happen. And he gets mad in a game only the way Klay Thompson can get mad. He’s going to score 60 points and dribble the ball maybe 12 times. You see that after the game and whatever the numbers are and you’re like, “What the hell is this?” ! How are you doing that?!’ So there is this part.
He also seems to be the nicest guy who has the best time. But pleasant in a way that is almost a little intimidating. Not nice like Mr. Rogers, but nice like when there was a kid in your school who was a black belt and everyone knew he was a black belt but he never said he was a belt black. Don’t fuck with this guy.
It’s Klay, he’s awesome. This is another example. When he made this video of his head hanging from the window, 400 people sent this to me.
When he was in mexico.
Law. I was like, ‘Alright, he’s on our Mexican basketball team now.’
I have to ask that. Are Kerr, Steph, Draymond and Klay the new Pop, Duncan, Tony and Ginobli? Or do you wanna hit me in the face just asking me that?
I don’t think they’re there yet. I do not think so. Ah, that’s a good question. If they can put two or three more years together, then you can have that discussion. How many titles do they have? Three, right?
But you have to throw out one of them because Kevin Durant. So really, they have two. They therefore have two titles. So they need three more titles, but with this group all together. So I would feel good to say it.
I don’t think Kerr is as good a coach as Pop is. The Warriors and Spurs are linked in a number of interesting ways. One of them is that we were the team you all played in the playoffs when everyone realized you were all going to be dangerous. It was before you won anything. It was the year before.
Steph walked in and started doing it and everyone was like what’s going on right now? We were supposed to blow you up. And Steph didn’t have it, and it was terrifying. I remember that playoff series. I had never paid attention to the Warriors before that. I paid attention to Steph when he was at Davidson because everyone was making a big deal and then walked into the league and for a brief second he had ankle issues and it was like, it didn’t probably wasn’t going to work for this guy. Then this show came along and you’re like, oh shit, it’s gonna work out great for this guy, and he just went crazy.
I remember tweeting, I think it was that year after we played all of you and I was like, if Steph wins a championship, it will be over for everyone for the next five years . Every time you win the title, everything changes. The same happened when we were watching Giannis this year. When he won that title last year, everyone was like, “Well, damn.” They have that taste – the taste of winning a championship – and they know what it takes to win it and they want it more than anyone or as much as anyone else, but also, they have the advantage of know how to do it.
The Warriors are awesome, man. This is what is scary this year. They have the same energy that we are going up, but you have Steph and Dray, who already have. You know Draymond is on Jordan Poole’s ear every game, just setting him up for the playoffs.
Yeah, he is.
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