Introducing SLAMonline’s newest blog about basketball films.
by Duane Watson / @sweetswatson
You’re likely reading this because you’re just as passionate about basketball as I am. Your love for hoops runs so deep, you consume it in any of its manifestations. Maybe you don’t normally watch Late Show with David Letterman, but you’ll scour YouTube if you know Ron Artest was on. Or you don’t subscribe to GQ, but will rifle though an issue for the story because Derrick Rose is on the cover. I can relate, it’s the same with movies. Mind you, I won’t take in any movie just because there’s basketball in it, but if there’s a decent storyline and realistic game action, I will watch it.
Personally, the movie that changed it all for me was Hoop Dreams. At that point, I had come to terms with the reality that I was never going to play in the NBA. But to watch these two high school kids on their quest, see the hardships and challenges on and off the court, and in the end, much like my hoop dreams, come up short? It was some powerful storytelling. Hoop Dreams was not only a great basketball film, but a great documentary in its own right and a classic in my eyes.
Hollywood gave us Hoosiers, Blue Chips, Space Jam and He Got Game, documentarians delivered great films like Through the Fire, Hooked: The Legend of Demetrius “Hook” Mitchell, More Than A Game, and Doin’ It In The Park. ESPN’s recent 30 For 30 series contributed to the cause, chronicling the lives and moments of Len Bias, Drazen Petrovic, Allen Iverson and Reggie Miller, making the basketball film genre official.
Directing Traffic will look back at all of those movies—consider this space your very own Criterion Collection for basketball films, one that will examine, explore and talk to the people who made these films memorable. More importantly, it will also look at what lies ahead. In an age where technology makes it easier for filmmakers to share their story, more are being told in a truer basketball tone, whether for the laptop or big screen. In this space, I plan to share those stories and while I appreciate film, I wouldn’t consider myself a movie critic… just a passionate basketball junkie, much like you.
Duane Watson is a freelance writer from Toronto, who has contributed to NBA.com, HOOP Magazine and The Canadian Press among others. He also co-hosts TSN Radio’s 1 On 1 basketball podcast. He prefers Twizzlers to popcorn when watching movies.