What to watch or read to fill the void of March madness
A disney scene Road to glory.
If we lived in normal times, many Americans would spend their time filling in parentheses and following the buzzer batsmen at the start of the NCAA tournament. But these are not normal times. Like pretty much everything else in society in this time of social distancing and quarantine, March Madness has been called off.
Obviously, there are bigger things to fear than not seeing Kansas or Maryland advance in the rounds of a high-profile tournament. But it’s understandable that those of us who love March Madness are sad that our favorite annual sporting event has been taken off the calendar.
To fill that gaping hole (and also provide more options to keep you entertained during your 40s), here are ten basketball-related things * to read or watch that (sort of) make up for the missing March Madness. Oh, and also the lack of NBA games.
* I did not include the TV show White shadow because it’s not showing anywhere, unfortunately. Know that if it was streaming, I would have done it.
It’s amazing how few major feature films have used March Madness as their backdrop. This Disney film – based on the true story of 1966 coach Don Haskins (Josh Lucas) and his Texas Western College team, which featured the first all-black starting lineup in NCAA history – is one of the only ones, otherwise the only one, who has. Yes, it’s a bit stereotypical, but a feel-good story might be exactly what the metaphorical doctor ordered right now. (The Literal Doctor is too busy to order Josh Lucas movies for you.) Plus, watching Haskins and his team shock Kentucky and his racist coach Adolph Rupp, played without any subtlety by Jon Voight, is still very satisfying. (Streaming on Disney +)
One of the greatest documentaries of all time, it’s also the best basketball movie ever made. Director Steve James trains the camera on two young Chicago high school players, William Gates and Arthur Agee, and follows their struggles on and off the field. It’s a three-hour epic about the love and false promises basketball offers these young men, as well as the economic and racial issues they face as poor black children walking long distances to attend a private school. Every sports documentary since him has a huge debt. (HBO Go; Amazon Where Hulu with HBO subscription)
ESPN’s docuseries have several big basketball-focused installments, both college and professional. Since not much else is happening in the world of sports, ESPN has added installments to its regular lineup, so check your announcements. But you can also stream any episodes or shorts you want through ESPN +. Some relevant recommendations: Pat XO, the tribute to legendary Lady Vols trainer, Pat Summit; There is no place like home, which follows the attempted return of basketball’s founding document, James Naismith’s Rules, to their Kansas home; and the brilliantly titled I hate Christian Laettner, which explores the love / hate relationship with the former Duke star and Duke in general. (ESPN +)
If you’ve read all of John Feinstein’s March Madness books and can’t wait to read another B-ball, try this beautifully written memoir of Prince of tides author, who recounts his not entirely successful season as a Citadel player in the 1960s.
This Starz comedy, produced by LeBron James, is an entertaining look to the life of Cam Calloway (Jessie T. Usher), a brand new NBA player who is adjusting to life in the league and with much more wealth, which her extended family enjoys as well. The series ran for four seasons, so there are a lot of episodes to watch, and they get more nuanced as they progress. (Starz; Hulu and Amazon with Starz subscription)
This is the most absurd basketball movie ever made, and I love it madly for that reason. Julius Erving and Stockard Channing star in this comedy about a struggling Pittsburgh NBA team following the advice of an astrologer (Channing) and trying to change their fortunes by only hiring players who are Pisces. It’s the movie with a basketball horoscope soundtrack that no one asked for and could be the most ’70s pop culture piece ever produced. (Available for hire on Youtube, Amazon, Google play, Seen, and itunes)
There aren’t enough movies about girls and women playing basketball, which makes this 2005 documentary a real gem. The film follows the Roosevelt Roughriders, a Seattle high school team, as they attempt to win a coveted national title, and specifically focuses on one of its star players, Darnelia Russell, who is trying to get back into the game. game after having a child. Like most great sports stories, it’s not all about basketball, and it’s guaranteed to cause tears. (Available for hire on Youtubee, Amazon, Google play, Seen, and itunes)
A great basketball movie and a great romantic comedy all in one, Gina Prince-Bythewood’s first film in 2000 follows neighbors and skilled basketball players, played by Sanaa Latham and Omar Epps, on their journey to as romantic partners and directors looking for a career. in the field. (Available for hire on Youtube, Amazon, Google play, Seen, and itunes)
Serrano followed his The rap directory with this book, filled with chapters that address important and nagging questions about the history of professional basketball, such as “What year was Michael Jordan the best version of Michael Jordan?” And “If 1997 Karl Malone and a bear swapped places for a season, who would be more successful?”
An easy frenzy at just six episodes, the Netflix docuseries introduce viewers to the determined young men of the Chinle High School basketball team, located in the Navajo Nation of Arizona. Its positive messages and TV-PG rating make it a good choice for those looking for things to watch with kids stuck at home during school closings. (Netflix)