Basketball Documentaries to Hold You Over
Right now, this period of mid-September to the beginning of November, is one of the absolute best times to be a sports fan. This is when Major League division races get exciting and the Wild Card heats up. Football season comes back full force, both college and pro–that means more (legally recorded) Erin Andrews, 3/4-length sleeve hoodies and mascot fights. There’s hope in the air, even for Panthers fans. Americans cling to the prayer that Andy Roddick won’t let down at the U.S. Open again. (Editor’s note: he did.) Even the fledgling FedEx Cup is must-see sports action because it means four straight weeks of Tiger—something that rarely ever happens. And for you hosers that somehow think hockey is a worthwhile diversion, the NHL’s seemingly year-round season kicks off October 1.
But if you’re a frequent reader of The Mixtape Monster Blog, you already know the one thing we’re all pining for around here…basketball. Sure we had the NBA Draft and Michael Jordan going into the Hall of Fame, but it’s just not the same. A true hoops fan craves the action, atmosphere and drama of the game. And no, the WNBA doesn’t count.
So what do I suggest you do? I suggest you take this downtime to learn a little bit about this game we love so much by checking out the following basketball documentaries.
To truly understand the game, you’ve got to know where it comes from. Basketball Man details the life and legacy of Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball and its original thirteen rules. When given 14 days to create a new indoor game for winterttime play at the Springfield YMCA, Dr. Naismith came up with something very dissimilar to what we now know as basketball–it was originally played with a soccer ball, involved very little contact, and did not allow dribbling. However, the game spread rather quickly and improvements/adjustments followed in stride. The Good Doctor would go on to become the first coach at Kansas. Surprisingly, he is the only coach in KU history with a losing record, but his lineage includes great names like Forrest “Phog” Allen, Dean Smith, and Adolph Rupp. Suck on that, Belichick.
Devin Green: The Journey (http://devingreen.tumblr.com)
Sure, the production quality on this four-part YouTube series isn’t going to win any awards. And yeah, you may not have even heard of Devin Green. But these facts lend themselves well to what this documentary is trying to achieve. Undrafted out of Hampton University, Green was signed by the Lakers for his rookie season, but was not on the playoff roster and was later released by the team. Since then, he has bounced around the NBDL and Europe, and spent the last few months with the Minnesota Timberwolves’ summer league team. This series gives you a brief glimpse into what that struggle is like on the majority of players out there trying to make it stick in the League. Not everybody is a Lebron or a Kobe, and for some, the grind can easily become unbearable. For others, it can become the foundation of a truly inspiring story.
A production of ESPN Films, this 4-hour long beast takes an in-depth look at the Civil Rights movement through the context of basketball at America’s Historically Black Coolegs and Universities. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson and renowned jazz musician Wynton Marsalis, this is a must-watch for basketball fans. Knowing the lengths people went just to play this game really helps you appreciate it even more.
Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot
Directed by Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, this film documents the first-ever “Elite 24 High School All-American Game” in 2006 at legendary Rucker Park. Hosted by streetball fanatic Bobbito, the game included such names as Kevin Love, Jerryd Bayless and Michael Beasley (or B-Easy as he’s known around those parts). On top of superb footage of the actual game action, the film features a great soundtrack and some entertaining bonus materials. To make things even better, it’s available for instant viewing on Netflix.
Hardwood Heavens: UNC – Smith Center
(Monster Note: I used this picture instead of the one Big Soda wanted, because I liked it better.)
This is a pretty cool series covering some of the great college basketball venues in use today, including Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse, Kentucky’s Rupp Arena and Syracuse’s Carrier Dome. Watching this installment on UNC’s Dean E. Smith Center, however, I began to wonder what it is that really makes this place so special, besides the mere fact that it houses the über-successful Tar Heels. Having seen dozens of games in the arena over the years, it’s a question I’ve asked myself several times–and the answer only became more elusive every time I snuck into old Carmichael Auditorium for a quick shootaround. Think about it: MJ didn’t play in the Dean Dome, the student seating arrangements still aren’t what they should be, and the physical aesthetic is unmistakably 80s. What I finally realized, though, is that the magic of the “Nose Dome,” as old-school haters like to call it, is that it means many things to many people, all individually tailored to their own specific memories. For some, it’s home to three national championship teams and hundreds of wins. For others, it’s taking down undefeated, third-ranked dook in the building’s first game. For Clemson fans, it symbolizes an assured loss in the record books. Whatever it means, good or bad, anybody who has been there has an opinion on the matter.
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