On the NBA Beat Ep. 148: Kevin Cottrell: “Ball Don’t Lie” Reporting “Felt Like Therapy"

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NBA TV producer Kevin Cottrell Jr. joins the show to discuss his debut book, Ball Don’t Lie, a collection of detailed conversations with 10 legends of the game.

9:23-9:42: “I never wanted to be the forefront of the book. I wanted to be the writer, but I wanted to share other people’s stories that I thought were interesting. So I thought the quotes were very, very, very important. I didn’t want to really paraphrase anything. I wanted to you to feel what they feel. I wanted you to understand what they saw and how they thought.

13:06-13:40: “Did you know he [Vince Carter] was injured going into the dunk contest? Naw, yeah. So when I found out things like that, I was like, ‘OK, this a perfect story to tell because people might think one thing and they get another.’ Chris Webber, honestly, I don’t think the game we talked about ultimately, him playing for the Sixers, that’s not a game he wanted to even discuss. And I had to explain to him the reason why I wanted that game was ‘cuz people would forget A, that he got traded to the Sixers, and B, his first game was against the team that traded him. That’s just a crazy story.”

15:13-15:28: “What happened was it almost felt like a therapy session, like guys almost land on a couch, and I took them back to this moment in time and now they were expressing something that they never got to truly express. And then by the end of the interview, they’re like, ‘Man, nobody’s ever asked me such and such.’”

30:38-31:00: “Probably the most challenging aspect was just doing this whole thing independently. A lot of people didn’t trust or believe in my vision of the book because A, they didn’t think I could deliver those names, and B, they didn’t think those people would help promote the book. Being a writer is one thing; being a publisher is a whole ‘nother thing.”

35:11-37:03: “If it wasn’t for Sekou, I would’ve left journalism a long time ago. … I was just getting down. I wasn’t getting the opportunities that I wanted. … I was always like a day late, a step short on those opportunities. And one time, I’ll never forget, we went and met at Panera Bread, right by where we lived, and he just encouraged me to keep writing, keep creating and don’t give up. … He just always was somebody that if I had a question or questioned something about what I was doing, he’d be the first person I’d pick up the phone and call. Him and David Aldridge, the two best journalists I’ve ever had the chance to be around, work with and just pick their brains.”

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