Basketball Jones: ESPN To Air 20-Hour Ode To Hoops — Basketball: A Love Story
Wednesday, September 5, 2018 at 07:03PM in Dan Klores, ESPN, ESPN, basketball, sports marketing, sports media

By Barry Janoff

September 5, 2018: In an effort approaching Ken Burns stratosphere and worthy of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, ESPN said it would air Basketball: A Love Story, a 20-hour, ten-part documentary, across its platforms “in a variety of viewing experiences.”

The documentary, from Peabody Award-winning director Dan Klores, was described by ESPN as a “sweeping project,” which consists of more than 60 interconnected ‘short stories’ consisting of more than 500 hours of interviews.

Official partners for Basketball: A Love Story are Geico, MetroPCS and Nike.

ESPN said that 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.”

Beginning Sept. 18, all ten episodes would be available on the ESPN App.

The full film will air in a serialized format in prime time on ESPN over five consecutive Tuesdays beginning Oct. 9.

The full project will be shown in two installments on ESPN2: Sept. 25 (Episodes 1-5) and Sept. 27 (Episodes 6 -10).

In addition, Crown Archetype, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, will publish Basketball: A Love Story by Jackie MacMullan and Rafe Bartholomew, based on interviews done for the film

It will be released on Sept 18 to coincide with ESPN’s first showing of the documentary.

The short stories include “Love of the Game,” “The Teachers,” “Origins,” ”Signature Moves,” “Tomboys,” “ABA," “Renegades,” “Title IX” and “Self Expression.”

Basketball: A Love Story features a Who’s Who of basketball, including Bob Cousy, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dr. J, Yao Ming, Stephen Curry, Diana Taurasi, Magic Johnson, Rebecca Lobo, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Mike Krzyzewski, Pat Riley, John Thompson, Allen Iverson, Earl Monroe, Lisa Leslie, Charles Barkley, Nancy Lieberman, Steve Kerr, Shaquille O’Neal, Steve Nash, David Thompson, John Havlicek, Cheryl Miller, former NBA commissioner David Stern and current commissioner Adam Silver.

ESPN said each episode would feature a different narrator: 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,” Connor Schell, evp-content for ESPN, said in a statement.

“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.”

According to Klores, who in 2008 received the Peabody Award for his film, Black Magic, “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.”

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