Do you hear it? That's the sound of the basketball bouncing.
It’s that time again. Time for more March Madness. The Big Dance. The NCAA Division I Basketball tournament. Listen, I’m from Indiana. I get it. I’ve never been that big of a basketball fan. But if you are a Hoosier, one helix of your DNA is encoded with basketball knowledge. It just is. My brother actually played D-1 ball at Belmont, so I’ve spent a lot (no really – A LOT) of time in a gym watching basketball. Now my nieces and nephew are staring to play. No matter what I do, I can’t get away from that round orange ball. (I told you that DNA hijack was a thing.)
So what do I do to combat basketball fatigue? That’s right. I watch movies about it. ESPN Films has released a couple of documentaries about the Hoosier pastime.
The first documentary I watched targeted the 1982 and 1983 Dunbar High School boys team out of Baltimore Maryland. These teams went undefeated at 59-0 over the course of two years. Four players went first to D-1 schools, then on to the NBA including, Reggie Williams, David Wingate, Reggie Lewis, and Tyrone “Mugsy” Bogues. This was an unprecedented (and unrepeated) feat. My 6’8” brother loved 5’3” Mugsy growing up, so I’d heard of him, plus Lewis went on to play for the Celtics – who my mom LOVED. Not everything that happened in the film was like a fairytale, but I thought it was well-done and it really pulled me in.
A decade later, in 1992, filmmaker Mike Tollin (Varsity Blues, Coach Carter) shot a movie about a team in Inglewood, CA called the Morningside 5 (because they attended Morningside High School). These boys had to same big plans as the Baltimore Boys, but things didn’t quite turn out the same for them. Tollin followed their careers (or lack there of) first, through 10 years after high school, and now 25 years later. These guys didn’t all go on to fame and fortune, and I think watching it right after the first documentary made that even more glaring. But it was good to get a more realistic picture of just how hard it is to make it into the NBA.
My brother lead the NCAA in field goal percentage for his sophomore and junior years, but he wasn’t drafted. He never really wanted to go into the NBA (although he did once say that if they wanted to pay him to sit on the bench, he wouldn’t say no). Now he’s an accountant. The more you learn about the odds of making it big, the more you realize what a gift the Baltimore Boys had.
Also, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the movie Hoosiers. It used to play at our house at the beginning of every basketball season the same way the Grinch comes on at Christmas. If you love basketball, I wish you all the best with your bracket. If you hate basketball, I offer you the hope that it will all be over soon. And you can kill some time by watching these great b-ball flicks.
Hey – if you can’t beat ‘em. Join ‘em.