Director and friend of SLAM Benjamin May is preparing to release a new documentary on New York City basketball legend Lloyd “Swee’ Pea” Daniels. In the next few weeks, get ready to see some exclusive interviews, clips, and a feature story on Swee’ Pea himself from Ish #46 back in 2000 written by SLAM’s Editor-in-Chief Ben Osborne. But before all that, check the trailer below followed by details on May’s Kickstarter campaign to get the film through its final stages.
As an NBA-obsessed teenager, Benjamin May was particularly fascinated by one player. Lloyd “Swee’ Pea” Daniels, who played for the San Antonio Spurs between 1992 and 1994, was a compelling player for a few reasons: a playground legend by the time he was 16 years old and once touted to become the next Magic Johnson, he destroyed his career before it even started through crack addiction, which eventually led to a shooting that left him nearly dead. It is nothing short of a miracle that, in spite of all that, Daniels still made it to the NBA. But even then, it was widely acknowledged that the Swee’ Pea that people saw in the NBA was a mere shadow of what he could have been, should have been, but never was.
After many years wondering when somebody would make a documentary about the legend of Swee’ Pea, May decided to take the matter into his own hands. He approached Blowback Productions, a prominent NYC-based production company with a background in sports documentary, got Swee’ Pea on board, and began shooting shortly thereafter.
Over the last two years the crew have interviewed key figures from Swee’ Pea’s life, such as the legendary Jerry Tarkanian, and have shot on location in NYC, New Jersey and Las Vegas. In addition, they are working with animator Kelsey Kuno to produce animated sequences that emphasize the near-mythic status that Swee’ Pea assumed in NYC street culture and NBA lore. In January, out of nearly 600 applications from filmmakers throughout the world, the Swee’ Pea project was chosen as a finalist for the Tribeca Documentary Fund Award.
To date, the film is halfway through production. They are hoping that a Kickstarter campaign will raise enough funds to enable him to complete principal production. “We don’t want to make a typical sports documentary,” says May. “This is first and foremost a character study of one of basketball’s most enigmatic figures. It’s about a lone wolf who, for better or worse, played life by his own rules.”