New ESPN documentary explores basketball's impact in racial injustice, gender equality and other key moments of history

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A new film series is exploring the impact of basketball -- both on the court and off -- and through the eyes of those closest to the game.

ESPN’s epic 20-hour documentary Basketball: A Love Story, from director Dan Klores and co-producer, retired NBA player Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, features the game’s most influential figures.

"It’s just such a beautiful story. Pro, college, women, Olympics, 62 short stories," Klores told ABC News' Nightline. "This is my passion, and I think it’s a passion of hundreds of millions of people around the world."

The series chronicles key moments of history in the game’s past, including racial injustice and the Civil Rights movement.

"It’s interesting because during that time, you know, yeah, there were things in places. I mean I played in North Carolina in college and there were places that you could go and places that you couldn't go. Well that was just the times. And you understood that," Monroe told Nightline. "But as the older players, you know, we appreciate, you know, where it’s been to, where it’s gotten to now."

The film also exposes the game’s rocky path to gender equality in basketball.

Growing up, WNBA legend Rebecca Lobo wished she had someone to look up to in basketball.

"I wish there was somebody who looked like me. I wish there was a woman playing somewhere that was on TV every week and was showing little girls how to play hoops. But that wasn’t life then, that wasn’t life in the 70s, 80s and early part of the 90s," Lobo told Nightline.

The WNBA was a big step forward for the sport when it was founded in 1996 after the U.S. Women’s Olympic Team won gold in Atlanta.

“They hadn’t won the gold medal in the ’92 Olympics and so they put this team together with a year to train. But it was so much bigger than that. We didn’t realize we were a test bubble essentially for the WNBA,” Lobo said.

With the WNBA, Lobo was given opportunities she never dreamed of growing up.

“You know, we were making appearances, were visiting places. We were in commercials. This was all new to us and not something any of us had ever thought about because it didn't exist when we were growing up it's not something we ever dreamed of because it would have been a pipe dream,” said Lobo.

“The WNBA, it’s an experiment that has worked, and I don’t care. You got all these critics, ‘Oh they don’t play as well as men.’ They’re not supposed to. It’s a different game. Look what the WNBA has meant to the culture, to young women, to girls,” Klores said. “It’s all about a host of other doors that are opening and have opened on every conceivable level that give to people what they need. Pride, encouragement, hope and confidence.”

Those feelings are a part of what Klores said is a much bigger picture in basketball.

“There’s another story being told that’s a story. It’s a story about basketball being a global common denominator,” Klores said.

To Klores and Monroe, basketball is, most of all, a game of love.

“You can go anywhere in the world and talk about just a few things: food, God, music, sex, basketball. Basketball is the game of the underdog,” Klores said. “Basketball presents both sides of love. That’s what these stories do -- much more, so more so than in other activities. The joy of basketball, the wonder, the embrace, the disappointment, the loss, even the betrayal. That’s what basketball represents. It parallels race relations. It parallels the story of the underdog in America and now the world.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Scoreboard roundup -- 11/8/18

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Thursday's sports events:


Oklahoma City 98, Houston 80
OT Boston 116, Phoenix 109
Portland 116, L.A. Clippers 105
Milwaukee 134, Golden State 111


Vancouver 8, Boston 5
Florida 4, Edmonton 1
OT Philadelphia 5, Arizona 4
OT Buffalo 6, Montreal 5
Vegas 5, Ottawa 3
Tampa Bay 4, NY Islanders 2
Carolina 4, Chicago 3
Dallas 4, San Jose 3
Minnesota 3, L.A. Kings 1


Wake Forest 27, (22) NC State 23


Pittsburgh 52, Carolina 21


Seattle 3, Portland 2

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Mayweather pulls out of Dec. 31 fight, says he ‘never agreed’ to bout

Kohjiro Kinno / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) -- Floyd Mayweather Jr. won’t be stepping out of retirement in time for the New Year after all.

The 41-year-old retired boxer said in an Instagram post Wednesday that the fight between him and 20-year-old Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa that was announced earlier this week wasn’t going to happen, saying he “never agreed to an official bout.”

“I was asked to participate in a 9 minute exhibition of 3 rounds with an opponent selected by the ‘Rizen Fighting Federation,’ Mayweather said.

“This exhibition was previously arranged as a ‘Special Bout’ purely for entertainment purposes with no intentions of being represented as an official fight card nor televised worldwide,” he explained. “Once I arrived to the press conference, my team and I were completely derailed by the new direction this event was going and we should have put a stop to it immediately.”

The fight was set to be held on Dec. 31 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Should it have taken place, it would have marked the second time Mayweather had stepped out of retirement. He last did so in August 2017 to face the UFC’s Conor McGregor, who he knocked out in the 10th round of the boxing match.

“I want to sincerely apologize to my fans for the very misleading information that was announced during this press conference and I can assure you that I too was completely blindsided by the arrangements that were being made without my consent nor approval,” Mayweather said.

“For the sake of the several fans and attendees that flew in from all parts of the world to attend this past press conference, I was hesitant to create a huge disturbance by combating what was being said and for that I am truly sorry,” he added.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Scoreboard roundup -- 11/7/18

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Here are the scores from Wednesday's sports events:

Detroit 103, Orlando 96
Oklahoma City 95, Cleveland 86
N.Y. Knicks 112, Atlanta 107
Miami 95, San Antonio 88
Philadelphia 100, Indiana 94
New Orleans 107, Chicago 98
Memphis 89, Denver 87
Utah 117, Dallas 102
Toronto 114, Sacramento 105
L.A. Lakers 114, Minnesota 110

Washington 2, Pittsburgh 1
Nashville 4, Colorado 1
Anaheim 3, Calgary 2

(20) TCU 66, CS Bakersfield 61

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Just released from Raiders, Bruce Irvin heads to hometown Falcons

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- The Oakland Raiders released Bruce Irvin less than one week ago, and now he's confirmed his decision to head home to Atlanta. On Wednesday, Irvin, 31, signed a one-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons.

Neither the team nor Irvin revealed the financial details of the deal, but Irvin told ESPN he passed up more lucrative offers for the chance to play for Atlanta.

"This was a dream [come] true. The Patriots and Steelers offered more money, but being able to play for my city and my people -- just can't put a price on that," Irvin told ESPN's Vaughn McClure.

The former first-round draft pick posted a similar statement on his Twitter account.

Irvin's deal with Atlanta also reunites him with his former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who now leads the Falcons as head coach.

The hope, according to the Falcons' website, is that Irvin can help improve Atlanta's struggling pass rush.

"We know exactly how Bruce with fit into our team on the field, and just as importantly into our locker room," Quinn told the Falcons' website.  He added, "He will add to our rotation along the defensive line, while adding to our pass rush."

Quinn said he looks forward to "getting [Quinn] on the field as soon as possible."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Giants name Farhan Zaidi new president of baseball operations

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The San Francisco Giants have snatched Farhan Zaidi from the Los Angeles Dodgers and named him their new president of baseball operations, the team announced on Tuesday.

"We set out to find one of the best minds in baseball and Farhan's many accomplishments and expertise exceeded our expectations," Giants President and CEO Larry Baer said in a statement. "Farhan is widely viewed as one of the top executives in our industry and we are thrilled to have him lead the next chapter of Giants Baseball."

Zaidi, 41, has been with the Dodgers since 2014, serving as their general manager. Under his leadership, the team has clinched four consecutive division titles and has advanced to the National League Championship Series three times and to the World Series twice.

In his four years with Los Angeles, the team has posted the second-best winning percentage (.584) in the MLB.

"I am delighted to return to the Bay Area and to join one of the most storied franchises in the game," Zaidi said in a statement. "I have watched the Giants from afar and I have great respect for the organization's culture and many accomplishments."

"I am excited about this new opportunity and I'm looking forward to getting right to work," he added.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


High school football coach pulls off sweet proposal with the help of his players

iStock/Thinkstock(SUGAR HILL, Ga.) -- A high school football coach in Georgia enlisted his team to help him pop the question to his girlfriend.

Nafis Pickett is the recruiting coordinator and wide receiver coach for Lanier High School's football program.

Pickett told ABC's Good Morning America that when it came time to propose to his girlfriend of one year, Ashley Wilson, he asked some of his players to help.

"She's the love of my life," Pickett, 31, said. "She supports me in everything I do ... She's at every single football game, she knows it's my passion. She knows I'll do anything [for] those boys."

On Nov. 2, with a minute and 30 seconds left in the game, Pickett asked some of his players to give roses to Wilson.

In a video shared to Pickett's Twitter account, Wilson collects roses from the boys as Pickett gets down on one knee.

The touching moment was met with cheers and applause.

"You can tell by her face she was very shocked," Pickett said. "I'm just grateful that God was able to place her in my life. When you can find a woman like that, that's all you can ask for."

Pickett also said he is grateful to Lanier's head coach, Korey Mobbs, for welcoming him to the team.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Report: Bryce Harper turned down 'aggressive offer' from Nationals

Dustin Bradford/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Washington Nationals made an offer to Bryce Harper late in the season in an attempt to reach a deal before he became a free agent.

At the general managers' meetings on Tuesday, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo disclosed the team's talks with Harper's agent, Scott Boras.

The team made Harper an "aggressive offer" in September that included no opt-outs and was less than the $400 million Harper was speculated to receive, according to Washington Post reports.

Harper, who turned 26 last month, is expected to receive the largest contract among the 164 free agents. He is a six-time All-Star with 184 homers, 521 RBIs and a .900 OPS.

Boras is known for extending talks with his free agents past the holiday break. His clients include Nationals pitchers Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, and former Nats outfielder Jayson Werth.

According to soruces, Boras is floating the notion that Harper could shift from outfield to first base which could open up negotiations with other teams.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Scoreboard roundup -- 11/6/18

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Here are the scores from Tuesday's sports events:

Charlotte 113, Atlanta 102
Dallas 119, Washington 100
Brooklyn 104, Phoenix 82
Portland 118, Milwaukee 103

Columbus 4, Dallas 1
Toronto 3, Vegas 1
N.Y. Rangers 5, Montreal 3
Ottawa 7, New Jersey 3
SO Detroit 3, Vancouver 2
Tampa Bay 5, Edmonton 2
St. Louis 4, Carolina 1
San Jose 4, Minnesota 3
L.A. Kings 4, Anaheim 1

(1) Kansas 92, (10) Michigan St. 87
(4) Duke 118, (2) Kentucky 84
(3) Gonzaga 120, Idaho St. 79
(5) Virginia 73, Towson 42
(6) Tennessee 86, Lenoir-Rhyne 41
(7) Nevada 86, BYU 70
(8) North Carolina 78, Wofford 67
(9) Villanova 100, Morgan St. 77
(11) Auburn 101, South Alabama 58
(14) Oregon 84, Portland St. 57
(16) Syracuse 66, E. Washington 34
(17) Florida St. 81, Florida 60
(19) Michigan 63, Norfolk St. 44
(21) UCLA 96, Fort Wayne 71
(22) Clemson 100, The Citadel 80
(23) LSU 94, SE Louisiana 63
(24) Purdue 90, Fairfield 57
(25) Washington 73, W. Kentucky 55

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


George Steinbrenner headlines ten-man ballot for Baseball Hall of Fame's Today's Game Era committee

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Legendary former New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner headlines a list of ten larger-than-life figures eligible for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame next month, with their selection to be overseen by the Today's Game Era committee.

Also on the list are former managers Davey Johnson, Lou Piniella and Charlie Manuel, and a group of players that includes Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Joe Carter, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, and Lee Smith. The 16-person committee is responsible for choosing candidates who were involved in the sport from 1998 and the present.

The committee will meet on December 9 at Major League Baseball's winter meetings in Las Vegas. Any candidate who receives 75 percent of the vote will be inducted at Cooperstown next July, alongside the players chosen from the standard ballot in January.

The Today's Game Era committee last met two years ago, choosing former MLB commissioner Bud Selig and former Atlanta Braves executive John Schuerholz for induction. Each of the individuals up for consideration this year were considered then, but none received more than half of the vote.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ABC News Radio