Wednesday, October 24, 2012

30 in 30 - Day 24: The Dream Team

What is happening here?  The closer I get to the end of the month....the more volatile this project has become.

Once again I have had to do a little shifting in my film titles.  Unfortunately (due to circumstances beyond my control) I have had to switch out the movie I was to watch.  In its place though is a title that's on my 30 doc I'm not drifting too far from the bench.

With just a week left, I'm sure I can limp my way to the finish.  But this is really messing up my schedule....for reals.  Good thing I can power through it.

Tonight's film - The Dream Team

The Dream Team (2012)
70 mins.
Rated: NR (but would be an easy PG choice)

"The Dream Team features highlights, rare practice footage and behind-the-scenes clips of players hanging out that both recall the experience and provide a new look at it.  Not every moment is stellar, but there are so many joyous moments that it's all too much fun to complain.  In turn, we can remember and understand just why anyone cares so many years later."  (source: yahoo sports)

Link to the film - I watched it online via vimeo

This doc is an NBA TV original production.  When I first heard that, I got worried that it would be a little substandard.  I've seen a lot of "documentaries" on various networks that miss the mark in a number of areas (quality of writing, quality of interviews, lack of footage, not really telling the complete story, etc.).  I was pleasantly surprised to see this production easily run along side some other quality documentaries.

The 1992 Olympic basketball team from the United States.  The Dream Team.  11 Hall of Famers.  Many would call this team the greatest team ever all of sports.

Pretty good topic to tackle.

The players on that team (most of them) transcended the game itself.  The NBA was on such a roll since Magic & Bird saved the league in the 80's.  Now it was guys like Jordan, Barkley, Drexler and Malone carrying the torch.

We step back and talk about the US team prior to 1992.  They were still dominant for years, even with college players taking part.  But the world was catching up and in 1988, the US team were upset in the semi-finals by the USSR.  The discussion about amateur vs. pro really heated up.

In Europe, you could be paid to play yet still be considered an amateur.  In the NBA though, you are considered a pro once you accept a paycheque.  Many felt that it was not fair.  That eventually changed and in 1992 the sport of basketball at the Olympics were open to all players.  Now the question was - who would want to play?

Initially, superstar Michael Jordan is hesitant to join.  He only accepted after seeing some of the players that have gotten on board with the idea.  Duke's Christian Laettner was the only non-NBAer as he was just coming out of college.

The lineup is a who's who of NBA stars, but there is one player who is noticeably absent....Pistons' star Isiah Thomas.  Even more surprising is that the team is coached by Chuck Daly - Head Coach of the Detroit Pistons.  Some felt that it was because of the 'Bad Boys" image the Pistons built over the years.  Some were just happy he wasn't on the team - they wanted no part of that.

Training camp opened and a lot of egos entered through the door.  At first, the team played like a bunch of individuals, then the pendulum swung way the other way and everybody started over-passing.  It was so bad that they actually lost their first warmup game against a group of college stars.  Some say that Coach Daly threw the game on purpose...but whatever it was, it got the team more focussed and more cohesive.

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were named captains and this would be their swan song.  The first game of the Olympic qualifiers were a coming out party for the duo.  They were clearly the leaders of the team and the crowd chanted for more.  Easily punching their tickets to Barcelona, the team packed up for some warmup games in Monte Carlo.

Relaxing, shooting some golf and playing cards, the team got a little sluggish in their match against France.  Coach Daly was not impressed and put the team through a tough practice the next day.  A scrimmage ensued and it got pretty competitive.  This intensity was the turning point and there was nobody going to stop the Dream Team from that point forward.

Barcelona.  The Olympics.  No room for error.  Their first match against Angola was a rout but all the press focused on was Charles Barkley's elbow to the Angolan player.  Against Croatia, it was Jordan and Pippen looking to dominate against their soon-to-be-teammate Toni Kukoc.

It got to a point where people started asking "Is this Dream Team too good?"  Was this venture creating more of a negative than a positive?

A great aside from the doc was hearing the story of John Stockton walking off the team bus one day while it was stuck in traffic.  He proceeded to just walk amongst the crowd...and nobody recognized him. His teammate Karl Malone only wishes he could do that.

The friendships and camaraderie that was built through this experience still holds to this day (as they got recent interviews with all 11 players - nice).  In the gold medal game against Croatia, they won as a team.  It was an emotional scene as the players came in to the stadium to accept their medals.  Something they will never forget.

And like that....the dream was over.

This was a surprisingly good documentary.  The interviews were really good, the archive footage was fantastic (a lot of behind-the-scene photos and video).  The main story was well presented, but the side stories were also very well done.  A good balance.

The editing was fine (nothing spectacular) and the pace was solid.  The only down side was that the content was not more "roller coaster".  But what do you expect when you have such a dominant team?  They really didn't have to overcome any major adversity.  It was just a feel good story for the most part.

Were they dominant?  You bet.  But they earned it.  They played as a team and the whole was definitely greater than the sum of all the parts.

3.5 out of 5

Here are some other reviews I found online for the film...

Yahoo Sports


Bleacher Report

Next up...The Idol Makers - Inside NFL Films (for sure...I have the VHS)

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