The one and only Hannah Storm of ESPN was kind enough to take a few minutes out of her busy schedule to talk with Hot Hot Hoops about her upcoming TV special "Face to Face" which debuts tonight. The show will feature in-depth interviews with Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers and Houston Rockets star guard James Harden.
We've already shown off some exclusive photos of the stunning artwork from the set of the show as well as a preview clip but here we were able to dive into what makes this show so special in this day and age where getting to know sports personalities more in-depth takes a backseat to flashy sports highlights and edited soundbites...
What was the thinking going into these interviews and with the show overall?
It's about really taking the time to get to know these people which we just don't do that...ever. There's not really a format for that. We talk a lot about the "what" sometimes but not about the "why" of what's behind the obvious that we see. I always felt that athletes, especially now, don't get as much as an unfiltered voice as they should. I think there's so many hours to be filled on so many channels and so many media outlets and that a lot of these athletes have people talking about them but you really don't hear them speak of it themselves as much as I think you could. I do believe there's a space for that in television and I think that people want to be invested in the people that we're watching. I picked four people that I thought were really interesting this season, particularly, for different reasons.
Dwyane Wade is just so insightful and so forthcoming about a lot of topics. Some of the things I think people are going to be really, really interested in. He's such an interesting person to begin with and then we explored his off-court interests and also things that are happening to him this year and the future. It's really good, he's really good.
Anything from Wade's interview that Heat fans will be surprised to hear?
I feel like his relationship with LeBron James is not fully understood by most people. I read one article during the course of my research and there was something like "yeah, they're friendly but they're not really great friends" and that couldn't be further from the truth. They are incredibly close. They have a brother-like relationship that I think allows them to really weather difficult times on the court and allows them to support each other off the court.
I thought he was incredibly insightful in that relationship and having covered the NBA for so long, I'm hard-pressed to even think in my own mind if there's ever been another relationship between two superstars like this and I honestly can't think of one, where there's that kind of closeness would lead to two of the biggest stars in the NBA, two guys on the same team, to have that kind of level of communication that they do and commitment to a goal is really remarkable. To me their relationship is really unusual and I loved hearing him really going in-depth on that.
What else did Wade talk with you about in this special?
He talks quite a bit about this summer and how all that stuff is going to go, in so far as he can envision. He talks a lot about, which I find fascinating, about being a single parent and being in the NBA. He was the first-ever to try it and it's very uncharted territory so he talks about raising his two boys and his nephew and also fathering a child. He talks a lot about fatherhood and what it means and what it's going to mean down the road and I think he's really forthcoming about that.
We also dove right into his style which is so wild and fun and cutting edge. His stylist is in the piece. I had to know who was pushing him into that direction and there's an awesome section about style and the designs that he does. He has a neckwear line and a sock wear line in addition to his shoe line. He's really on the design end of the business which I thought was really interesting. He's the real deal. He's really got an eye for design and he loves being creative. So I got to say that was a lot of fun and you get a lot of interesting "Dwyane Wade not the normal stuff you hear about all the time", for sure.
So it seems like it's not so much an interview but a conversation with your subjects for this show?
It's intended to be a conversation, it's edited like a conversation, and there's almost no voice-over in it. That was how I conceived the "Face to Face" shows. That is what I pitched to ESPN was, 'I have this idea for a show and I want it to be a back-and-forth conversation. I don't want it to look like the other things on our air." At the same time it does not look like a Sunday conversation. Those are shorter, and that's a straight on me-to-me kind of sit-down. So these are in that element but really do something that we try to look into something that they're really passionate about.
Like with Dwyane, we hang out with the stylist and look at his socks and his ties and that's so fun. With Doc Rivers, he showed us his new apartment in L.A. With James Harden, we went to his favorite restaurant and we down the street and went to a rodeo. Just really organic stuff that makes sense, not something gimmicky. With Adam Silver, he grew up going to the Garden and loved the Knicks when he was a little kid so he was a Knicks fan.
You see people in a little bit of a different element. There's that sit-down conversation in there plus there's the added (content) where you get to really just hang out with them and it makes for I think something really different and classic. It's not a tricked-up way of doing television. It really is a conversation which is, in a lot of respects, a lost art today.
"NBA Face To Face With Hannah Storm" airs this Friday (4/18) on ESPN at 7PM and re-airs on ESPN2 at 11PM.