Basketball: A Love Story, a 20-hour, 10-part documentary on the game, debuts tonight (7 p.m. edt) on ESPN.
The longform documentary was constructed by filmmaker Dan Klores, who directed the 30 for 30 film, Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks, told Awful Announcing:
“I always thought basketball mirrors race relations in America, mirrors, I don’t want to say it’s synonymous or a complete parallel, but there’s a lot of race relations in sport, in basketball, that goes beyond just what’s happening on the floor. That’s what Black Magic was about. But the first time…I didn’t do the interview, but we interviewed a woman, and it was Val Ackerman…I read the transcript, because that’s the process, I read it and read it, and I stopped dead in my tracks. If you close your eyes and listen to the voices of women, you’re hearing the same voices of the outsider.”
“So it’s bigger than the parallel to race relations; basketball is the story of the outsider, and it’s always been that way. It’s in the film, from the turn of the century, it’s the Jewish immigrant and the Irish immigrant coming to New York, it’s the mid-European coming to America, moving out to Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, it’s the worker, and then it’s the black person beginning to play in the YMCAs of Washington and Philadelphia and New York. But women, they were ostracized. You know, when women started playing the game it was nine on a team, then it was six women on a team until the late 1960s. Because they didn’t think women had the stamina, so three played defense and three played offense. So women are integrated throughout the entire piece, 19 different women, because of Val Ackerman and that interview.”