I've been trying to write about each "30 for 30" film after they air, but with the scheduling so irregular lately, I wanted to instead remind you that the next film, "Guru of Go," airs tomorrow at 4 p.m. - and not on ESPN itself, but on ABC. (The plan is to try to give the movie bigger exposure on a day when college basketball fans are pumping themselves up for the two Final Four games on CBS.) A few thoughts on it coming up after the jump...
"Guru of Go" tells the story of coach Paul Westhead, who won an NBA title coaching the Lakers in Magic Johnson's rookie season, only to be forced out a few years later in a power struggle with Magic. The bulk of the film covers Westhead's time as coach at Loyola Marymount University, where he won a lot of games, scored a lot of points and made the college game an awful lot of fun with a breakneck run-and-gun style he called "The System," which turned out to be perfectly-suited for his top two recruits, high-volume shooter Bo Kimble, and powerful leaper Hank Gathers, who became the second player to ever lead the NCAA in both scoring and rebounding for a season. Gathers tragically died on the court from a heart condition, and the moment pictured above with Kimble will give goosebumps to anyone who remembers it (or who will see it for the first time in this film).
Where the last "30 for 30" film, "Winning Time" (as well as the next one, Steve James' "No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson," which will air while I'm on vacation, on April 13 at 8 p.m. on ESPN) was a case of a great filmmaker transcending his story, "Guru of Go" is more of a great story, told well-enough. Director Bill Couturie tries to dress things up in different ways (because Westhead's a Shakespeare nut, each segment gets its own Bard quote to introduce it), but most of the film works because of the power of what these three men did together, and what happened to Hank.
Still, it's another very engaging film in a series of them, and I can't recommend "No Crossover" highly enough when it airs on the 13th.