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ESPN’s Alipour dives into feature on Curry, Barnes’ floating aqua therapy

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 SportsCenterwhich 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.

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.
– 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.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If the video below does not play on your device, click here.

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