REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL GOES ONE-ON-ONE WITH LAKERS SUPERSTAR KOBE BRYANT; SITS DOWN WITH NBA TRAILBLAZER RICK WELTS; PROFILES PARALYMPIC HOPEFUL MATT STUTZMAN; AND REVISITS THE SAFETY OF EXTREME SPORTS WHEN IT RETURNS FEB. 23, EXCLUSIVELY ON HBO
REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL, TV’s most honored sports journalism series, returns with more enterprising features and reporting when its 227th edition debuts TUESDAY, FEB. 23 (10:00–11:00 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.
For up-to-the-minute updates about REAL SPORTS, follow on Twitter at @RealSportsHBO or join the conversation using #RealSports.
The Black Mamba. With five NBA Championships, 18 All-Star Game nods and countless other accolades, Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant will be remembered as one of the best ever, although even the greatest athlete is no match for Father Time. Since coming into the league fresh out of high school at age 17, Bryant, now 37, has logged more minutes on the hardwood than all but five other players and will retire at the end of this season.
However, the sometimes outspoken “Black Mamba” is hoping to be remembered for more than basketball, and plans to run a multimedia company that tells sports stories. Correspondent Andrea Kremer visits Bryant’s new venture, which is already well underway, and goes one-on-one with the future Hall of Famer.
Producer: Nick Dolin.
Game Changer. In 2011, Phoenix Suns president and CEO Rick Welts became the first openly gay man in the NBA, but had been influential in other facets of the game long before. Starting as a teenage ball boy, he eventually became media director for the Seattle Supersonics, followed by a 17-year stint in the NBA’s league office. There, he conceived and developed All-Star Weekend and the marketing campaign for the legendary 1992 Olympic “Dream Team,” both of which elevated the NBA to new heights.
For decades, Welts, 63, navigated the often macho and homophobic sports world by keeping his sexuality private. These days, he doesn’t have to hide. REAL SPORTS correspondent Soledad O’Brien sits down with Welts, now the Golden State Warriors president and COO, and his partner, Todd Gage. She also talks to former commissioner David Stern, who brought Welts into the NBA league office, and goes behind the scenes at this year’s All-Star Weekend in Toronto to capture the essence of the festivities he helped create.
Producer: Maggie Burbank.
Long Shot. Matt Stutzman, 33, lives a reasonably normal life in Fairfield, Iowa. He’s a father and husband, changes diapers and cooks, and is one of the best archers in the country. However, he was born without arms and does nearly everything with his legs and feet. Stutzman was required to adapt early in life. Given up by his birth parents after a few months, he was adopted by a couple who never coddled him or treated him differently than their other children.
Even Stutzman’s involvement in archery is an example of acclimating to life without arms, since he took it up as a way to put food on the table when he had trouble finding a job. REAL SPORTS correspondent Carl Quintanilla heads to the Super Bowl of Archery in Las Vegas, where he competed against able-bodied archers, and to the Midwest to meet Stutzman and his family and see first-hand the obstacles he overcomes every day. As Quintanilla learns, Stutzman has not reveled in being the world’s best armless archer and hopes to prove he is among the best in the world, period, when he goes for gold at the Rio Paralympic Games this summer.
Producer: Tim Walker.
Heavy Metal. As extreme sports grow in popularity, so does the danger. Millions tuned in to the snowmobile freestyle finals of the 2013 Winter X-Games and witnessed the accident that led to the tragic death of 25-year-old Caleb Moore. When REAL SPORTS first examined the issue in 2013, high-flying events such as snowboarding and skiing were marked by incidents resulting in brutal injury and even death. REAL SPORTS’ investigative team continues to explore how far is too far, as correspondent Jon Frankel asks: Have extreme sports gotten too extreme?
Frankel revisits that fateful evening with Caleb Moore’s brother, Colten, who was also injured at the 2013 Winter X-Games, but left the hospital with just a separated pelvis, and explores what is being done to make the sport safer.
Producers: Jordan Kronick, Nisreen Habbal.
Other HBO playdates: Feb. 23 (2:00 a.m.), 25 (1:30 p.m., 5:15 p.m.) and 27 (noon, 12:15 a.m.), and March 3 (3:10 p.m., 8:00 p.m.), 6 (12:15 p.m.), 7 (1:30 p.m.), 8 (4:25 a.m.) and 9 (6:00 p.m.)
HBO2 playdates: Feb. 26 (1:15 p.m., 10:00 p.m.) and 28 (2:00 p.m.), and March 2 (5:15 p.m., 12:15 a.m.), 12 (9:15 a.m.), 17 (1:45 a.m.) and 21 (11:40 a.m.)
The show is also available on HBO NOW, HBO GO and HBO On Demand.
On Jan. 19, REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL received its third duPont Award from Columbia University for broadcast excellence. Previously honored in 2006 and 2012, the show was recognized for its eye-opening reporting on Qatar, which was awarded the 2022 World Cup amid a storm of controversy and corruption charges. In addition to receiving duPont Awards and the George. F. Peabody Award, REAL SPORTS has won Outstanding Sports Journalism Emmys® 16 times and earned 28 Sports Emmy® Awards overall since debuting in 1995.
Follow REAL SPORTS updates on HBO.com/realsports and facebook.com/realsports. Immediately following the debut of this month’s show on Feb. 23, log on to HBO.com/realsports for a special overtime session hosted by Bryant Gumbel.
The executive producer of REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL is Rick Bernstein; Joe Perskie is senior producer.
Follow @HBOPR for more news and information.