Ball Don't Lie - NBA

I'm amazed there wasn't more hype surrounding this news, but LeBron James is scheduled to be in my neck of the woods this weekend at the Toronto International Film Festival for the debut of "More Than A Game," a documentary chronicling his St. Vincent-St. Mary's high school days and subsequent rise to NBA stardom.

From what I can tell, the first screening is this Saturday (12:15pm) at Ryerson University, my alma mater. (Mente et Artificio!) Tickets can be purchased online here, Torontonians. I'll (hopefully) be in attendance, so I'll try to get a short review of the flick out next week.

Also on Saturday, around 1:00 p.m., LeBron is expected to make a brief appearance at some "Invitational Slam Dunk Competition" at Yonge- Dundas Square, the new street-level hub of Festival activity. Again, I'll probably be busy scarfing down popcorn at that time, so if you go and take pictures, please, send them in.

For more information on the documentary, hit the jump.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Several years ago, first-time director Kristopher Belman decided to follow a high-school basketball team in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. Its core group of players were four African-American youth from varying backgrounds, playing for the elite, predominantly white school St. Vincent-St. Mary. The boys had played together with the same coach since they were in grade school, developing an unusual chemistry. Hollywood should be so lucky to find such a script about family, redemption and what it takes to win. And as if that was not enough, one of the players went on to become an NBA superstar.

While LeBron James was still in high school, 'Sports Illustrated' anointed him "The Chosen One," and scrutiny of the St. Vincent-St. Mary team increased exponentially. But only Belman's cameras were able to capture what took place between friends in the locker room and outside the game.

'More Than a Game' shows how bonds are formed and tested. Belman makes each player as distinct and significant as the celebrity-to-be who plays among them. Coach Dru did a stint in the corporate world before finding meaning mentoring youths and shaping them into a remarkable team. His son, Little Dru, overcame the limitations of his short stature to become an accomplished player. Rounding out the “Fab Four” are Sian, a stocky athlete who also played football; and Willie, whose harsh life experiences have forced him to grow up fast. They became the “Fab Five” with the addition of Romeo Travis, who joined the clique later and had to prove himself.

And, of course, there was James.

What the media builds up, it also likes to tear down, and during James's senior year, he attracted intense negative attention over speculation that he planned to turn professional. Raised by a single mother in desperate straits, he was nevertheless deeply resented by outsiders for aspiring to capitalize on his talent.

As the adversities mount, the team endures pressures that most teenagers will never face. In the words of Coach Dru, "You just don't know what life has in store for you."
Thom Powers

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