October 27, 2009

ESPN 30 for 30 is 2 for 3 So Far

ESPN’s 30 for 30 is an ambitious documentary series that presents 30 sports-related films from acclaimed directors, including John Singleton (Boyz in the Hood), Barry Levinson, and even Ice Cube. Each Tuesday a new feature premieres and thus far we’ve been treated to Peter Berg’s King’s Ransom (which traces the events surrounding Wayne Gretzky’s trade from the Edmonton Oilers to the L.A. Kings) and Mike Tollin’s Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?

I must say I wasn’t digging Levinson’s The Band That Wouldn't Die, which reflected on what happened in Baltimore after the Colts’ departure for Indianapolis (Barry, it’s been 25 years -- you really need to get past this.) Still, overall, 30 for 30 has been fantastic. In the coming months, we can look forward to Unmatched, covering the friendship and rivalry between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova; The Best That Never Was, about former Oklahoma running back Marcus DuPree, and The Two Escobars, which examines the murder of Columbian soccer player Andres Escobar after his own goal led to Columbia’s elimination from the 1994 World Cup.

Tonight’s feature is Muhammad and Larry, a memoir of the events surrounding the 1980 heavyweight between Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes. At the time, the legendary Ali was challenging champion and former sparring partner Holmes and attempting to win the title for a fourth time. Ali got into his best shape in years, but Holmes, despite not having any real competition during his entire title reign ,was a great and underrated heavyweight in his prime. He beat Ali badly, much to my disappointment. (I watched the fight live on closed circuit television, which for you youngsters out there was sort of a predecessor to pay-per-view -- except instead of being able to watch in the comfort of your home, you had to go to a movie theater or similar public venue.)

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