The male-skewing, NBCUniversal-owned Esquire Network launches on U.S. airwaves today (September 23), replacing the now defunct Style Network.
Making its debut on the channel in November will be How I Rock It, a style-centric series fronted by former NBA player Baron Davis (pictured above), who also serves as exec producer for the series and is almost as well known for his beard and sartorial style as he is for his 13 years in the NBA.
Extending its focus beyond clothes, the series is a window into the world of the tasteful man. Episodes will feature actor Jason Lee, director/producer Paul Feig and fashion designer Waraire Boswell.
Usually retired players end up as sports broadcasters. What attracted you to a show about personal style?
I love to dress. I love going out, dressing up and just bringing my style and flavor everywhere I go. To be able to host a show like this, I wanted to set myself apart from what everyone else is doing. I know that [sports] announcing is the most traditional way but I felt – [in terms of] where sports is and where we are as individuals – that style is of the essence right now. We’re at the right moment in time to capture that.
What can you tell me about the show?
I feel like this show is cutting edge. It’s about style, personality and really connecting to a new generation. How I Rock It is definitely a show people are going to want to tune in to, to be inspired, and to really find their place in style and culture.
Did you feel a heavy responsibility in being the face for one of the first shows on a new network, particularly one with an historic brand behind it?
[With] Esquire being one of the premiere magazines, and having a great history, I do feel a great responsibility, but also it’s a lot of fun. It’s fun to be a part of something in a new frontier.
The pilot explains how basketball players’ style changed after NBA commissioner David Stern’s mandatory dress code (in which players had to dress conservatively before and after games and at press conferences). Did it force you to consider your own style?
Yeah, I would say before the David Stern era, the NBA was caught in between professional [attire] and hip hop, and it was two ends of a spectrum. When Stern implemented the dress code, it forced us all to use our creativity and become classier at the same time. I remember there was a lot of backlash, but I was thinking, now you’ll be able to really see who has style and flavor. I was really advocating for it because it would create a better environment for the league in general.
You tweeted about making a documentary about the Drew League, the organized exhibition tournaments in LA. What are you trying to capture with that film?
I want to bring people a little closer to the impact of basketball in the inner city and what that can do for a community and a culture. In this documentary, it’s really a stylistic view of inner city Pro-Am basketball and all the people and players that make it possible.
- This interview originally appeared in the current September/October issue of realscreen magazine. Not a subscriber? Click here for more information.