October 08, 2010
This isn't to stand out or to try and slam ESPN -- take it from a guy who watched just about all of those "SportsCentury" episodes a half-dozen times over -- but I've been disappointed in the network's "30 for 30" series.
It's a great idea. For years baby boomers have had the inside track on telling people why their take on things and their relative experience was so damn special ("The Big Chill," anyone? You sniveling blowhards ...), and while I'm sure the generations that follow are about to hit their annoyance point with references to Bo Jackson's ability as a video-game character, or "Beverly Hills 90210" references (though I never saw an episode, it was on opposite "Cheers"), it's still nice to see recent history given a sepia-toned, overwrought shout-out.
The execution, though, hasn't been great. There have been some jaw-droppers, absolute knockouts. But there have been just as many that I've spent weeks looking forward to, cleared the room to take in, turned the volume up high and the lights down low, only to be left wanting.
That's in spite of all the talent (these are some brilliant filmmakers) and storylines throughout. Though there have been some astonishingly good pieces of work, overall the entire thing has been a bit of a letdown. So much so that one of the docus most of us least looked forward to (the retelling of the Boston Red Sox's run to the 2004 championship) has been one of the more rewarding episodes.
This Tuesday's version, though, should be pretty happenin'.
It takes on the former Yugoslavia's near-hoops dynasty, as spun through the words of Vlade Divac; with a heavy slant toward his time spent with the late Drazen Petrovic. Before the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union broke up, the former Yugoslavia had itself an impressive cast of basketball players to work with. And though freedom and regional identity far outweigh the need for a consistent international basketball team rotation, religion and eventual civil war (gee, doesn't is usually turn out that way?) got in the way of friendship, much less an American-defeating basketball outfit.
SI.com's Richard Deitsch has the details:
"[Divac and Petrovic's] relationship, and the breakup of one of Europe's great amateur basketball squads (Yugoslavia took silver at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and won a gold medal at the 1990 FIBA World Championship), are the subjects of Once Brothers, a powerful, 90-minute documentary that airs Tuesday as part of ESPN's 30 for 30 series. The film is told through Divac's eyes and first-person narration as he returns to his native Serbia to retrace the steps of his amateur basketball team."
Sounds like a must-watch. And even if it falls short, it could be worse. Someone in a blue blazer might want to tell you why Woodstock was so damned important again.