Posts Tagged ‘sports movies’

Benji

benji-toon

I’d read a couple months ago when Benji first aired that it got pretty good reviews. In fact, every sports person I saw who commented on it mentioned how much they enjoyed it. I’m of the opinion that when nearly everyone likes a tv show, movie, album, or whatever, you probably should do yourself a favor and check it out.

Benji is the story about Benjamin Wilson – the top ranked high school basketball player from the class of 1985 – who was gunned down a few weeks before the start of his senior basketball season. At 6’8″ with a silky smooth jumper, Benji was nicknamed “Magic Johnson with a jumpshot” by his high school coach.

Much of the sadness shown in Benji is all to familiar with those who have followed the careers of Len Bias, Reggie Lewis, Hank Gathers, and others. Benji was more than a sad story about a great player who died and that was the end. His legacy lived on through his mother, who was very impressive in how she handled his tragic death, teammates and players that followed him and wore his number (Nick Anderson, Juwan Howard, and Derrick Rose all wore the #25 for Wilson and #1 player and future Duke recruit Jabari Parker has #25 on his shoes), and the change that came because of his high profile murder (laws about where ambulances brought gunshot victims were directly affected by his death).

It was a sad movie and a movie that certainly could’ve been made better had the directors been able to get an interview with former girlfriend Jetun Rush and/or son Brandon (no doubt they made every attempt). The inclusion of an interview with his killer – Billy Moore – was surprising, but I’m not entirely sure it added a ton to the story. Good to see that he’s seemed to turn his life around, though.

24

01 2013

The Other Dream Team

otherdreamteam

When anyone thinks of 1992 Olympic basketball, we think of MJ, Larry, Magic and the Dream Team. Numerous books have been written on the subject solely of the dream team – “Dream Team” by Jack McCallum and the underrated “The Golden Boys” by Cameron Stauth. “The Jordan Rules” by Sam Smith had a particularly entertaining segment about Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan wanting to take it to future Bull Toni Kukoc. “Once Brothers” – the NBA-produced 30-for-30 piece featured a story about Vlade Divac and Drazen Petrovic that touched on Croatia’s appearance in the 1992 Olympics.

At the time, I was too young to realize it, but the 1992 Olympics was a memorable Olympics solely on the basis of what countries were competing for the first time as a country (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina), the first time in a while (the united German team, South Africa) as well as who wasn’t competing (USSR was no more, so they competed as the “Unified” team).

“The Other Dream Team” is the story about the 1992 Lithuanian Olympic basketball team. It starts with the 1988 Russian gold medal win over the United States. Of the 12 players on the Russian roster, four starters were from Lithuania. The team also included players from Latvia, Estonia, and the Ukraine. As excited as the four Lithuanians were to win gold, there also was a certain amount of disappointment with the situation that surround USSR and Lithuania.

You don’t particularly need to be a basketball fan to enjoy “The Other Dream Team.” In fact, I enjoyed the stories about the political and cultural climate of Lithuania of the early 90s more than the basketball itself. I particularly enjoyed stories about bringing clothes and electronics home from America along with the stories about how The Greatful Dead got involved. While I don’t need to rush out to watch the movie again immediately (although I would), I did check where I could buy the tie dyed tshirts. Overall, I’d say this isn’t a movie that you’ve got to rush out and see immediately, but it’s well worth a view.

7.5

out of 10

23

01 2013