SUMMING UP THE TAR HEELS ON THE BIG SCREEN
With my North Carolina Tar Heels winning the 2009 NCAA National Championship, I wanted to honor them in the only way I know how-with this column. So I started thinking about the team, the different personalities, styles of play, and the “characters” they portray on the court. Eventually, I asked myself this question: What film best describes this player?
While creating this list, I purposely opted to not be literal with my interpretations. For the most part, my determinations were based on vague criteria akin to the player’s “aura” and a corresponding film that provides similar emotional stimuli to watching or reading about that particular Tar Heel. To help explain the process a little further, I’ve also given you a short phrase that attempts to sum up each player, so you can see if each film evokes the same response during your own viewing.
So just sit back, open your mind, and let me do my thing. Here it is:
Tyler Hansbrough: “Raw Tenacity”
Nothing about his game is pretty. But what it lacks in a shiny finish, it more than makes up for with intensity. He is physically pummeled and comes back for more, despite being criticized and having his accomplishments downplayed along the way.
Film Equivalent: Oldboy (2004)
This is the story of a man imprisoned in a cheap hotel room for 15 years with no explanation or opportunity to confront his captors. When he is finally released, the man finds himself in a perplexing world of conspiracies and retribution, having to fight for his life along the way. In one of the biggest snubs since Walt and Oscar Robertson both lost the MVP to Bill Russell in 1962, Oldboy lost the 2004 Palm d’Or to Michael Moore’s shameless Fahrenheit 9/11. The movie manages to be thrilling yet heart-wrenching and wraps up nicely with a sick, twisted little bow on top.
Deon Thompson: “Grace & Strength”
Watch DT work in the post for an entire game-not just when he has the ball-and try to convince me that he doesn’t remind you of a boxer. He’s got incredibly soft hands and even better footwork. The fluidity of his game, when combined with his size and strength, is borderline hypnotic.
Film Equivalent: When We Were Kings (1996)
Those of you that know Big Soda know how much I love boxing, Ali in particular. The Louisville Lip took down every big-time heavyweight of his time, and then let them know about it. That included George Foreman, his opponent at the Rumble in the Jungle, which serves as the backdrop of this documentary. Enjoy the trash-talking, tantalizing skills, and controversial personality that made Cassius Marcellus Clay an American icon. Oh yeah, young Don King looks weird, too.
Wayne Ellington: “Icy Smooth”
As the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, he displayed his cold-blooded, hitman-esque style. When he’s hot, Wayne’s game has a colorful, artistic quality. Utterly unapologetic in the face of big-game pressure, he’s likely to shine no matter who else is on the court.
Film Equivalent: Smokin’ Aces (2007)
Jeremy Piven plays Vegas magician Buddy Israel with his typical hard-living, hooker-banging, in your face bravado. Ben Affleck isn’t the lead, so he doesn’t suck (that’s a formulaic certainty that applies to all of his films). And my man Common makes his film debut. The fast-paced action flick is full of color, running the audience ragged with a long line of A-Listers and thought-provoking character pairings.
Ty Lawson: “Relentless Explosion”
Lawson is the undisputed “fastest man in college basketball.” With all the scouting reports claiming that he can only go to his right, he is still unstoppable. Like a true kung fu master, his offensive genius is seen on the counter-attack, catching the defense with its guard down.
Film Equivalent: Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior (2003)
Muy Thai, the national sport of Thailand, is called the “Science of Eight Limbs,” because the fighters use that many body parts to dismember you. Now combine that with some serious stuntwork and you’ve got this staggering exhibition of butt-whoopery. It’s only made better by being more than a star vehicle for Tony Jaa, like so many of Bruce Lee’s were.
Danny Green: “Stylish & Edgy”
From the pre-game dancing to his carefree style of play, DMFG carries himself with an unparalleled air of confidence. Like the lead in any good blaxploitation film, those flashy characteristics are what we see on the outside, but you just know there’s more if you dig a little deeper. Plus: Greg Paulus = Bitch Slapped.
Film Equivalent: Willie Dynamite (1974)
Just the movie poster taglines from this 1974 blaxploitation film justify the price of admission: “He’s tight, together, and mean,” “Chicks, Chumps, he uses ‘em all,” “Ain’t no one crosses Willie D.” Willie Dynamite, an ambitious New York City pimp battles the typical opposition on his quest for strong-arm supremacy. This was the genre’s peak, so it’s rife with stereotypes and hyperbolic characters.
Bobby Frasor: “Well-Rounded Selflessness”
With the intense games of Texas-style ping pong and the “aww-shucks” reaction to rumors about Erin Andrews, Bobby “Textbook” Frasor epitomizes the accessibility we love to see in our sports stars. It’s not hard to imagine kickin’ it with Bobby for a Mario Kart marathon…then you remember that your other friends never dropped 17 points on the Wolfpack.
Film Equivalent: Made (2001)
John Favreau and Vince Vaughn are a great team. Although Made is often portrayed as the inbred cousin of Swingers, any cast that runs the gamut from Peter Falk to Sean Combs is worthy of your attention. This film should garner strong consideration for any guys’ night viewing.
Roy Williams: “Comforting Simplicity”
Let the haters say what they want about his occasional slip of the tongue, but Coach has a calming presence that takes me back to an easier time. Seriously, have you seen his Coke commercial? When he took over the Heels in 2003, Roy joined Peter Gammons and Christopher Walken on my “adopted grandpa” wish list.
Film Equivalent: Big Fish (2003)
Even though this isn’t my favorite Tim Burton film (Sweeney Todd or Ed Wood), it sports a really unique ensemble cast and a heartwarming cats-in-the-cradle story. Besides, it casts Danny Devito in the perfect role, a creepy circus ringmaster.
***Questions? Comments? Who the hell is this Big Soda douchebag and what’s he doing telling me what movies to watch?? Big Soda can be reached at email@example.com***