by Duane Watson / @sweetswatson
There are sports documentaries and there are films that profile athletes. When Amar’e Stoudemire: In The Moment came across my desk, it came off as the latter. The synopsis stated, “The documentary follows New York Knicks power forward (Stoudemire), whose quest is to bring a Championship to New York before he finishes his career.” The aforementioned, is every NBA player’s goal, therefore informative and compelling were adjectives that were placed in my back pocket when screening the film.
As expected, In The Moment starts with all the establishing shots of New York City, Stoudemire training hard 12 weeks before the start of Knicks camp and spouting the clichés that he “wants to go down with the all-time greats” and “win a Championship this season.” But only seven minutes in, Stoudemire’s mother Carrie, is weeping on camera, discussing her sordid past of 29 years in and out of correctional facilities and confessing that she tried to abort her “million dollar baby.” That compelling scene illustrated the hour-long documentary not only focused on his preparation for this past season, but also honestly explores his childhood in Lake Wales, FL, skipping college and his early NBA career in Phoenix.
Equally as informative, the film profiles the man off the court, with his proposal to Alexis, the mother of his three children, as a loving father and the release of his autobiographical children’s book, STAT. It’s clear his family and upbringing shapes the man he is today, but first and foremost Stoudemire is a basketball player. His dedication and drive is well documented, whether it’s repetitions on the court, the track, in the weight room, or in Houston working on footwork and post moves with Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon.
Yet despite his commitment, the Knick forward fell prey to the bug again and missed the first 30 games of this season with a knee injury. One of the more earnest scenes in the film is when director Josie Swantek asks what would he do if he suffered another injury? Stoudemire struggles at even fathoming an answer with visible frustration at the thought, and says, “Probably just stop and become a school teacher.” After shooting the film, on March 11 Stoudemire underwent debridement surgery to clean up debris in his right knee and miss 4-6 weeks, with an optimal return just in time for the first round of the Playoffs. He’s now expected to miss the first round and has only played in 29 games this season.
When EPIX planned this documentary, their intentions were to showcase the hard work and dedication Stoudemire put into having a successful season with the Knicks. But what’s happened as a result, displays all the effort and perseverance that’s tested a man’s spirit and his ability to overcome adversity. Will he bounce back and help the Knicks go deep in the Playoffs, or is this the end of the six-time NBA All-Star’s career? That is what the difference is between a sports documentary and a film that profiles athletes.
Amar’e Stoudemire: In The Moment premieres on demand on EPIX, April 19 @ 8 p.m. EST.