Press release from ESPN, Sept. 5, 2018:
ESPN announced today a 20-hour, 10-part documentary “Basketball: A Love Story” from Peabody Award-winning director Dan Klores. The sweeping project, which consists of more than 60 interconnected “short stories,” will be available across multiple ESPN platforms in a variety of viewing experiences. Klores has created a vibrant mosaic of the game, featuring 165 exclusive interviews. The cast encompasses basketball’s most prominent figures, from Bob Cousy, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dr. J, Yao Ming, Stephen Curry and Diana Taurasi, to Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant. Klores’ short stories explore the complex nature of love as it relates to the game and opens the window to insights and perspectives about race, politics, media, art, business, style and entertainment. The episodes will feature different narrators: Chadwick Boseman, Julianne Moore, Chris Cuomo, Ashley Judd, Michael Che, Ansel Elgort, Ahmad Rashad, Robin Quivers, Daveed Diggs, and Fisher Stevens.
“With ‘Basketball: A Love Story,’ Dan Klores weaves together the threads of many current and historical elements in a way that has never been done before, and it brings people inside the game in a fascinating manner,” said Connor Schell, EVP, Content, ESPN. “This is a special labor of love for Dan, and that comes through in the remarkable stories he chooses, the intricate way that he intertwines them, and how he tells them with care and humor – exploring the game of basketball, the cultural themes around it, and our own connection to it.”
The unique format of “Basketball: A Love Story” gives ESPN the chance to offer it to viewers in a variety of ways. Beginning on Tuesday, September 18, all 62 short stories will be available on the ESPN App. The full film will air in a serialized format in primetime on ESPN over five Tuesdays: October 9, from 7-11 p.m., October 16, from 7-11 p.m., October 23, from 7-11 p.m., October 30, from 8 p.m-12 a.m., and November 13, from 8 p.m-12 a.m. (all times ET.) For a more binge-style experience, a special preview of the full film will be shown in two installments on ESPN2 on September 25 (9 p.m. – Episodes 1 through 5) and September 27 (9 p.m. – Episodes 6 through 10).
Klores and his team of producers conducted more than 500 hours of interviews. Subjects of note include Mike Krzyzewski, Pat Riley, John Thompson, Allen Iverson, Earl Monroe, Anthony Davis, Dirk Nowitzki, Lisa Leslie, Charles Barkley, Steve Kerr, Shaquille O’Neal, Steve Nash, David Thompson, John Havlicek, Cheryl Miller, Arvydas Sabonis, Chris Mullin, John Calipari, Moses Malone, Tommy Heinsohn, Rick Pitino, Jack Ramsey, Connie Hawkins, Nolan Richardson, Jim Boeheim, Tony Parker, Nancy Lieberman, Lynette Woodard, Tiny Archibald, Phil Jackson, Calvin Murphy, Rick Barry, David Robinson, George Gervin, Larry Brown, Dave Bing, Jeff Van Gundy, Rebecca Lobo, Bill Walton, Geno Auriemma, Doug Moe, Hubie Brown, Sarunas Marciulionis, Roy Williams, Billy Donovan, Dale Brown, John Lucas, Slick Leonard, Doug Collins, Tom Sanders, Elvin Hayes, Quinn Buckner, Bob Pettit, Isiah Thomas, Kenny Smith, Mark Jackson, Kristaps Porzingis, Becky Hammon, Bill Simmons, Joe B. Hall, Denny Crum, Tom Thibodeau, Stephen A. Smith, Jackie McMullan, Pete Vecsey, Bob Ryan, Rick Welts, Val Ackerman, Russ Granik, David Stern, Adam Silver and many more.
Klores stated: “I’ve wanted to do this for many years. I first pitched it more than a decade ago to ESPN. These are ‘short stories’ to which I think millions around the world can relate. The game, for me and others, has been an escape, a chance to pretend, feel safe, learn, love, lose and even despair. It has an obsessive quality to it, whether one is a player as great as Jordan or LeBron, a fan, a park player, a team member – and to me, “obsession” is a form of love, so in a real sense each of these stories touches upon that feeling.”
The official partners for “Basketball: A Love Story” are GEICO, MetroPCS and Nike.
Additionally, inspired by the ambitious project, Crown Archetype, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, will publish “Basketball: A Love Story” by Jackie MacMullan and Rafe Bartholomew. The book is based on interviews done for the film and is the defining, untold oral history of how basketball came to be, and what it means to those who love it. It will be released on September 18, 2018.
In 2008, Klores received the Peabody Award for his four-hour film “Black Magic,” and in 2007 he was awarded The Independent Spirit Award for the documentary classic, “Crazy Love.” Four of Mr. Klores’ films have premiered at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival; “Boys of Second Street Park,” “Ring of Fire,” “Crazy Love,” and “Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks.” Klores is the author of three Off-Broadway plays, and his essays have appeared in The New York Times, New York, Esquire, Southern Exposure, New York Daily News, The Undefeated and other publications.