ESPN The Magazine senior writer Sam Alipour really immerses himself in his storytelling.
For instance, he shared a wine bath with NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire and jousted with MMA fighter-turned-actress Gina Carano.
His latest feature explores the unusual way Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry and forward Harrison Barnes escape the pressures of defending the team’s NBA title, extending a record-setting undefeated start and exploring inner peace. The Warriors immerse themselves for up to an hour floating inside salt-water filled, sensory-deprivation pods at the Reboot Float Spa in San Francisco – and Alipour was game to share the experience with the duo.
The resulting “Hang Time” feature airs on tonight’s 6 p.m. ET SportsCenter – which is in Indianapolis for the Warriors-Pacers game tonight – and was published today, along with an extensive ESPN The Magazine Q&A with Curry, on ESPN.com. Front Row asked Alipour for details on his latest reporting plunge.
– Sam Alipour
How did you get this kind of access to Curry and Barnes?
[After finding out they went to the spa] I texted Harrison and Steph with a prayer: “Um, guys, wanna go floating with me?”
Bless their hearts, they hit me back almost immediately with a yes. Though, Harrison did make it clear that we would not, in fact, be sharing his tub with me, like I did with Amar’e. I told him he’s missing out, but that wouldn’t be a problem.
Which immersion therapy did you enjoy more, this or the Stoudemire wine bath?
No contest. I came away from floating feeling inspired and refreshed, physically and mentally. I left that wine-bath with red skin and a mean buzz – that’s it. With apologies to Amar’e, vinotherapy is, basically, terrible.
With all the content in this story, how do you determine what works best for the video piece?
When I got together with [Editor-in-Chief, ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine] Chad Millman, [Senior Vice President, SportsCenter and News] Rob King and Glenn Jacobs [senior coordinating producer for SportsCenter Digital, Now and Next-Generation Content] to discuss what we wanted to accomplish with this cross-platform series, which we’re now branding as “Hang Time,” we decided to focus on two chief components: fun and insight.
You can mine a good deal of fun and humor from this space, and you can certainly learn a lot about a person by delving into their go-to hobby. So, that’s the conceit.
Then, I get together with the assigned producer, in this case Susan Ansman in the Features Unit, who was instrumental in the creative-brainstorm and drew up the shot list that would allow us to execute our two-pronged plan. After that, you just hope the athlete comes to play. With Steph and Harrison, that wasn’t going to be a problem. They’re two of the coolest, smartest, most interesting athletes I’ve met.
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