Friday, April 02, 2010

30 for 30, "Guru of Go": For Hank

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.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

"no crossover"? Or "Guru of Go"?

Alan Sepinwall said...

"No Crossover." I wasn't clear in that statement, in part because I won't be reviewing the later film while I'm off. "Guru of Go" is solid; "No Crossover" is quite a bit more than that.

Adam said...

As a Philadelphian who was a senior in high school during the big LMU run, this was all pretty devastating. I hope the film makes clear just how much fun that team was to watch.

Rob said...

How long is it? I can't tell from any of the online listings, they all just show ABC with ESPN sports Saturday until 6. I got burned Thursday by PBS's doc about St. Anthony's, though that one was an hour.

Anonymous said...

What's with the new logo but no discussion board?

Anonymous said...

@Rob: The docs have all run 2 hours so far in the series (about 88 minutes of actual doc-time, the rest commercial filler). I assume this would be no different, especially since in its later airings on ESPN it's getting a 2-hour timeslot.

Adam said...

The new logo, as Alan explained, are four characters created or perfected by David Mills.

bsangs said...

Just let me know ahead of time Alan so I can avoid it if so - is "No Crossover" another propaganda piece designed to tell middle aged white guys like me how wrong we are to label Alan Iverson a selfish thug? And was it produced before the latest round of news about AI hit the wires? Because I've been hearing that story told forever - even though the guy continually proves that he's indeed a selfish thug, no matter where he goes. Or does it focus solely on that high school incident in which he was "wrongly" accused?

GiantAsianMan said...

Actually, the majority of "30 for 30" docs have only been a hour long, and "Guru of Go" is no different. The second hour of the "ESPN Sports Saturday" block is a new show called "Winners Bracket".

Art McGregor said...

"High-volume shooter" is my favorite term to describe a gunner. :)

Johnny D said...

@bsangs - If that's really what you think about Allen Iverson, you don't know a damn thing about The Answer. And if you're honestly asking if the director of 'Hoop Dreams' would make a propaganda picture about racial divisions in his hometown, you don't know a damn thing about Steve James.

Anonymous said...

This one didn't really click for me. Not sure why. Probably because the main story (Paul Westhead) can't help but be overshadowed by the Hank Gathers part of the story. So the doc comes across as schizophrenic. Also, the Shakespeare stuff was a bit overdone and didn't really fit well, even though there was the connection with Westhead.

Would have been interesting to hear more about Paul's time with the Lakers, maybe the Nuggets, too.

DolphinFan said...

Regarding some earlier posts: Steve James showed in "Hoop Dreams" (and also in the very underrated non-sports doc "Stevie") that he doesn't need Michael Moore tactics to make a interesting docu that gets to the heart of whatever matter he's covering. I'm not an Allen Iverson fan and don't like the tendency of some sportswriters to make excuses for his behavior, but my plan is to see what James has come up with. And I'd be surprised if it wasn't both fair and compelling.

bsangs said...

No Johnny D, I've only been following his career since he was in high school, watched nearly all his games at G'town, many with the 76ers, so on and so forth. So you're right, I'm sure I "don't know a damn thing about The Answer." (Trivia Question - who quit on every team for which he couldn't be a starter in the last three years? Answer? The Answer.) Loved "Hoop Dreams." And I was asking Alan the question since he's actually seen the doc, not you Johnny Boy. So Alan, how about a quicky preview?

Alan Sepinwall said...

To quote John Munch... girls, girls, you're both pretty! Now go read Rules #1 & 6 and chill out.

And "No Crossover" is far from "a propaganda piece," though if you feel the need to apply that label to any project that doesn't 100% conform to your viewpoint on the subject, then... you might want to skip this one.

Craig said...

In fairness to bsangs, and not just because he made me laugh, I recall an SI cover piece from maybe 10-12 years ago that laid on thick how Iverson had changed his tune, when all the evidence suggested otherwise. So I can see where he's coming from. Personally, I needn't agree 100% with any documentary to enjoy it, but it had better be telling me something new.

James Leff said...

I haven't seen any of this series yet, so I checked Amazon, and found each is a $15 dvd. Yikes, that's expensive. Anyone heard rumors of an upcoming DVD collection? Or is this stuff viewable (legally) online anywhere? They don't see to be available in iTunes....

Anonymous said...

they occasionally re-run episodes on one of the ESPN channels (especially if a new doc is coming out and it's been awhile since the last one premiered). There probably will be a collection available down the road, but right now I'm not even sure all the documentaries have even been made.

Just Me said...

The problem when they run on ESPN Ocho is that if you are recording it inevitably it starts late and you miss the last 20 minutes unless you know to program your DVR accordingly. So, uh, program your DVR accordingly. And shame on ESPN for this stupid schedule: different days of the week AND different networks? Would love to see Alan bring this up the next time he is on the Sports Guy's podcast!

bjc5379 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bjc5379 said...

Can't help it. Everytime I see Bo Kimble hit that left handed free throw I get choked up. EVERYTIME! I was 11 when that happened and is what got me hooked on college basketball and sports in general.

The human drama that surrounds it all.

Larry said...

Did they talk about Westhead, post Loyola Marymount, going to coach the Denver Nuggets? Those were some crazy scoring games they had!

Points Per Game: 119.9 (1st of 27)
Opponent Points Per Game: 130.8 (27th of 27)

Anonymous said...

Did they talk about Westhead, post Loyola Marymount, going to coach the Denver Nuggets? Those were some crazy scoring games they had!

Points Per Game: 119.9 (1st of 27)
Opponent Points Per Game: 130.8 (27th of 27)


What you just said was pretty much the extent of what the doc covered. I also would have liked to hear more behind the scenes between him and Magic which led to him leaving the Lakers.

Sports Chump said...

Another solid documentary from Bill Simmons and the 30 for 30 gang.

Here's my take on Gathers from a fan who was actually at that LMU-Michigan game.

http://sportschump.net/2010/07/08/remembering-hank-gathers-video/4056/