The 2023-2024 NBA season will be here soon enough, and when it arrives, we’ll all begin charting the battles between the Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics, and the rest.
However, there’s one battle that never took an offseason rest because there is no offseason for what they do. It’s the one between NBA insiders Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania. And the longer that battle goes, the easier it is to see it playing out on a TV screen near you someday soon.
That’s the thought that occurred to House of Strauss’s Ethan Strauss recently, as he pondered what makes the two reporters so interesting as they battle to beat one another over information that is essentially meaningless minutes after it’s posted on social media.
“Woj (ESPN) vs. Shams (The Athletic) is indeed a Hollywood script waiting to happen, whenever this writers strike finishes up,” Strauss wrote. “If I’m pitching this as a movie or a TV show, I think we have a beautiful balance of stylistically different opposing forces, united in their pursuit of the same thing. Usually in stories like this, the rising Young Turks are vicious in pursuit of their goals, laying waste to the traditional niceties. Only in this case, Shams is far less likely to exact revenge on those who spurn his strategies. Woj, by reputation, is far more Machiavellian in his exercise of power, punishing those who don’t play ball.”
As Strauss notes, there’s something very human and their shared pursuit of being the best NBA insider, a role that is simultaneously lucrative and ephemeral. Seemingly vital to the NBA information ecosystem and yet arguably completely inessential. Their importance can be immediately undercut and impacted by the agenda of their sources.
And yet the fact that their rivalry feels so cutthroat makes it all the more cinematic. Once a master and apprentice, they’re now locked in a battle to dominate their chosen industry. They’re two men who occupy the same space but couldn’t feel more separate.
Strauss also notes that the fact that both of them are now working for companies with a vested interest in sports betting, adds yet another layer to their contentious cold war.
“Now that both Woj and Shams are tethered to gambling money, through company sponsorship, the scope of potential plot points only expands,” he wrote. “Their blood feud is connected to so much, even if the race to be first is much ado about nothing.”
Strauss’s presumptive picks for who would play the titular reporters are Paul Giamatti and Riz Ahmed, which sounds pretty believable for a limited series or film that we’ll tentatively call Insiders. We have to imagine Hulu and Max would kick the tires on a project like that.