SportsCenter

Hannah Storm’s seventh Face to Face brings NBA faces into focus

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Street artist Joe Iurato

Hannah Storm with Joe Iurato (CREDIT?)
Hannah Storm with Joe Iurato
(Courtesy of Joe Iurato)

Street artist Joe Iurato was given a 200,000 square-foot blank canvas to create the images presented within Friday’s Face to Face show. He said producer Gustavo Coletti commissioned him because, “The style of art that I create, which is done mainly using stencils and spray paint, fit his vision for the show.”

So Iurato set up shop in a vacant building in Jersey City with two friends, fellow artists Logan Hicks and Rubin.

“It was such a unique opportunity that I decided doing it alone and trying to get four large-scale installations done in two days of shooting wouldn’t take full advantage of the incredible space handed to us,” said Iurato, whose commercial clients in sports have included Nike, the NBA, NBC’s Sunday Night Football, The Aqueduct Racetrack and Mike Tyson’s Iron Mike Productions. “[The four men] offered such a strong and diverse group, we approached each piece differently, and had a blast running wild with our inspirations.

“I always particularly enjoy doing the NBA-related work,” he said. “Partially because I’m a big Knicks fan, but I think mostly because I feel that the sport of basketball and urban art share a great synergy. They often vibe on the same city grounds and share the same spaces. There’s a connection between the two.”

Here are some details from an in-depth exploration of four of the biggest names in the NBA: Meticulously labeled Tupperware in Doc Rivers’ refrigerator. James Harden acclimating himself to his new hometown of Houston by attending a rodeo in full cowboy regalia. Adam Silver showing off his notebook (yes, the league’s new commissioner takes notes with a pad and pencil!). And Dwyane Wade admitting to “spa days” with his sons.

Insight and access like that are what viewers can expect while watching SportsCenter Special: NBA Face to Face with Hannah Storm (Friday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN). It is the seventh edition of the series of hour-long specials featuring long-format, in-depth interviews with sports’ biggest names.

Face is Face goes beyond the traditional sit down,” Storm said. “While we cover topics in depth that are newsy or even controversial, we also spend a great deal of time getting to know the subject on a personal level. These are not biopics or profiles, they are a true exploration of the sports figure on a number of levels, from on the court to their off-court passions.”

Storm said a special aspect of tomorrow’s show is that, “Producer Gus Coletti complemented this version with a collaboration by some amazing street artists which gives this classic format a really contemporary feel.” (See sidebar)

But the main attraction for sports fans is the lineup of NBA celebrities, summarized below for Front Row by Storm.

“These are very conversational pieces, which is how I envisioned the series,” Storm said. “In our Twitter and text-filled world, the art of conversation has been somewhat lost, and I’m grateful we have a format and a place for it on ESPN.”

* “Dwyane Wade is very insightful about his relationship with LeBron James, which is much deeper than is often reported. And he goes in-depth about his responsibilities as a single dad, raising not only his two boys and a nephew, but also fathering another child this past year. And, we see him designing socks and neckties.”

* “James Harden talks about the difficulty of leaving Oklahoma City where he thought he would play forever. We help him transition to all things Texas — he had actually never touched a horse before and it took some coaxing, but he loved it, and even wore his new cowboy hat and boots to the game the next night. He also tells me how many millions it would take to shave off his trademark beard.”

* “Doc Rivers was really insightful about his impressions of Blake Griffin from afar, and how Griffin has surprised him and grown as a player. He also talks of covering up the Lakers championship banners, coaching Chris Paul after Rajon Rondo, and an incident which impacted him greatly when his home was set afire in San Antonio in the late 90s.”

* “Commissioner Adam Silver may be the most enlightening piece for fans because few know him. I have known Adam for over 20 years and was excited that we could bring his personality to light. He is smart and thoughtful but also very warm, engaging and funny. We went to see his beloved Knicks play, and we also did a separate lengthy conversation on NBA issues which appears on ESPN.com.”

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