If you’re like most sports fans, you watched ESPN’s airing of ‘The Last Dance’ documentary covering the tumultuous ending of the Jordan-Pippen-Jackson era of the Chicago Bulls.
After watching the first two installments of the documentary, I began to think what other sports documentaries we needed to see in the future. The ’30 for 30′ series has done a great job of telling sports stories that myself and people of younger generations never got to witness live.
No, this article is not about ‘The Last Dance’ as I’m sure you’ve seen thousands of those already. This piece will be breaking down sports moments I lived through but still want to know more about. Hopefully, I get to be apart of some of these documentaries in the future (looking at you ESPN, HBO, etc.).
A Thorn in Chicago’s Heart: The Derrick Rose Story
Lately I have seen a fair amount of disrespect towards Derrick Rose on Twitter’s and Instagram’s timeline. Maybe there is a disconnect between younger basketball fans or the maybe it’s the fact that Rose played in an era right before social media was popping the way it is now. But the disrespect needs to STOP.
Almost similarly to Lebron James’ Akron-to-Cleveland Cavaliers story, Rose grew up in the south side of Chicago and was destined to play for the Bulls. After one season at the University of Memphis, fate connected the two parties as the Bulls drafted the point guard number one overall in 2008.
What proceeded over the next three seasons was too remarkable to put into words. My colleague Carl Cervantes described Rose’s style of play as ‘transcendent’ and ‘electric.’ Rose’s explosiveness, athleticism and charisma took the league by storm. Most of you know Russell Westbrook; well Rose’s game makes Westbrook’s look like a beat up Honda Civic.
This man was the real deal and eventually won the NBA MVP award in 2011 defeating the likes of Lebron James and Kobe Bryant in blowout fashion. Rose was the first Bulls player to win the Rookie of the Year award and the NBA MVP award since the great Michael Jordan.
Everyone thought he was on the path to greatness with NBA Championships and a Hall of Fame speech in the future. However, a devastating ACL tear occurred during the 2012 NBA Playoffs that changed the trajectory of Rose’s and the Bulls future.
A detailed look on how the injury effected Rose’s mental state, the Chicago Bulls front office, his teammates (a group built to win a championship), the city of Chicago, head coach Tom Thibodeau, the Adidas brand (people started blaming Adidas for some weird reason) and the NBA is the documentary this younger generation of fans needs.
How To Overcome a World of Hate
Hatred is a common theme in sports. You hate your favorite team’s rival, you hate their cheerleaders, you hate their head coach and sometimes you even hate all of their fans.
But what about the players or teams that are universally hated? I mean like the type of hate fueled with such passion that people would say some outlandish stuff towards them. Four people come to mind; Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Floyd Mayweather and Joe Buck.
James came into the league out of high school and people everywhere started comparing him to Jordan. But when he couldn’t win championships in Cleveland and then left to Miami, he sparked a new level of hatred in the sports world.
Durant became public enemy number one after his Thunder lost to the Warriors in the 2016 playoffs and then joined that same Warriors team a couple months later in free agency.
Mayweather’s evasive style of boxing made him boring to watch, his 50-0 record was unimpressive but his claim of being the best fighter ever just deepened the level of universal hate for the boxer.
Why do people hate Buck? I’m not quite sure, but it seems like every time Buck does a nationally televised game, someone on the timeline is badmouthing him. Sure he’s dry as a broadcaster, but does he deserve this type of hate?
Boston’s Short-Lived Hero: The Isaiah Thomas Story
The Boston Celtics have had plenty of great players in their franchise’s history. From Paul Pierce, to Bill Russell, Larry Bird to Dennis Johnson and much more. Most of them spent their entire career, if not, most of their career with the franchise. And it looked like the Celtics were going to close out the 2010’s with (former) superstar Isaiah Thomas leading the charge.
In 2015, Thomas was traded to the Celtics as temporary replacement as Boston was in the middle of a rebuild. Except Thomas and head coach Brad Stevens had different ideas. Thomas and a team full of role players earned a #7 seed in the Eastern Conference that year when they had no business doing so.
The following season, Thomas lead the Celtics to a #5 seed and averaged 24 points per game in their series against the Atlanta Hawks. Despite losing in the first round, Boston fans could see something special was brewing.
With plenty of cap space that off-season, the Celtics were able to haul in Al Horford to play second fiddle to I.T. The duo lead the Celtics to a #1 seed in the Eastern Conference and had a remarkable playoff run, including a 53-point performance from Thomas on his sister’s (who had passed earlier that year) birthday.
Thomas finished fifth in MVP voting that year but a devastating hip injury forced him to miss the Eastern Conference Finals. While it looked like I.T. and Horford were there to stay, general manager Danny Ainge struck Celtics fans by surprise by trading Thomas for point guard Kyrie Irving.
While Irving was the better individual player, anyone who knew basketball could have seen he would have been a cancer in the locker room. Thomas’ hip ended up being worse than we thought as his career flamed out, Irving was out of Boston in two seasons as well as Horford and the trade ultimately set Boston back in pursuit of their 18th championship.
I’d love for Ainge, Thomas, Horford, Stevens, Marcus Smart and other members of that team to open about the roller-coaster of a ride and ponder what might have happened if the trade nor the injury went down.
Where Art Thou Closer? The Buck Showalter and Ubaldo Jimenez Story
In 2016, the Baltimore Orioles faced off against the Toronto Blue Jays in an epic wild card game. The two teams were headed to the 11th inning tied at 2-2 and the Orioles at the time still head one of the best closers in the MLB, Zach Britton, in their bullpen.
Instead of going with the superstar reliever, Showalter elected to pitch MLB journeyman Ubaldo Jimenez, who has a career 4.34 ERA. Jimenez gave up back-to-back singles and then a three-run walk off home run to Edwin Encarnacion that pretty much ended that Orioles era.
Jimenez only pitched one more season after that game and had one of his worst years ever finishing with a 6.81 ERA and a league leading 108 earned runs allowed. Showalter managed the Orioles for 2 more seasons as they finished with a 122-202 combined record.
Both of their careers were never the same after that playoff moment and a documentary portraying their aftermath would be a good watch.
More Heartbreaks Than a Novela: The Los Angeles Dodgers fans Story
Growing up in the Los Angeles area, when it came to sports the natives were all about their Lakers and their Dodgers. The Kings, Ducks , Galaxy, Clippers and Angels all took a big backseat away from those two teams.
The Lakers are one of the NBA’s most historic franchises. 17 championships and a dominance that has stretched from the 80’s to present day – with brief periods of disappointing seasons.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, have yet to win a championship since 1988. It’s not like they have sucked since that time, but they have found themselves in the oddest cycle of bad luck.
The franchise has had star players like Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp, Andre Either, Eric Gagne, Mike Piazza, Adrian Gonzalez and plenty others. They’ve had their fare share of big name managers to go along with rosters as loaded as they come, yet time and time again they find different ways to come up short.
So many times did they fall short of expectations that you begin to wonder what that does to a Dodgers fan’s mental state. From Ryan Braun’s PED-bolstered MVP season, the World Series loss to the sign-stealing Houston Astros, the duo of Matt Carpenter and Michael Wacha, the pesky Philadelphia Phillies or Howie Kendrick’s miraculous home run, the Dodgers are on the wrong end of so many heartbreaks.
When I was younger I used to tease Dodgers fans when they’d lose but now I am a little concerned for them. Let’s interview as many Dodgers fans as we can and have a serious talk about that level of disappointment and how it effected their personal lives, beliefs, habits, and more.
Overlooked and Undersized Before it was a Trend: The Jeff Garcia Story
Before the Russell Wilsons, the Kyler Murrays and the Drew Brees, their was another short quarterback that had a miraculous story of getting to the NFL: Jeff Garcia.
The 6’1″ 200 pound quarterback from Gilroy, CA went on to play junior college ball at Gavilan College after getting zero offers after high school. After two seasons he transferred to San Jose State just down the road and set the school record for offensive yards in a career. No NFL teams were willing to take a chance on him so Garcia went on to play five seasons in the Canadian Football League.
He eventually got his chance with the San Francisco 49ers after Steve Young suffered a season-ending injury. Garcia started for the next four seasons and wound up being selected into three pro bowls.
He became a journeyman after the stint with the 49ers but finished with a winning record his final three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Garcia’s style of play was erratic, unconventional and sometimes hard to predict but he found ways to win games. Plus, you don’t see a ton of guys in the league with a last name like Garcia, so he put on for the Hispanic culture. This guy needs a documentary.
An Unforgettable Locker Room: The Urban Meyer Florida Gators Story
Their have been a lot of ‘super teams’ or teams that we look back and say, “Wow, they had all those players at the same time?” While their may be plenty of excellent candidates across all leagues, no one tops Urban Meyer’s Florida Gators.
Meyer became head coach in 2005 and built a dynasty that saw Florida win two BCS Championships. His most impressive feat of all may not be the wins however, it is how he managed to build a roster as remarkable as 2008’s. And I don’t mean remarkable just on the field, I mean looking at the entire package and what they did in their lives.
Let’s go down the list shall we.
Percy Harvin had a pretty solid run in the NFL but most notably got into a fight with teammates Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate while he was on the members of the Seattle Seahawks.
Joe Haden, Carlos Dunlap, Will Hill and Louis Murphy all went on to have lengthy NFL careers.
Riley Cooper was famously caught saying the ‘N-word’ on a video while a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Cam Newton became one of the most polarizing quarterbacks in football history, but transferred to a junior college after this season and won Auburn a championship in 2010.
Tim Tebow was one of the most talked about quarterbacks in football history because of his strong religious views, great play on the field and inspirational speeches. More than 10 years later, he is now a minor league baseball player in the New York Mets organization.
Major Wright and Caleb Sturgis had above average NFL careers, Janoris Jenkins and Brandon Spikes became quality starters at the next level while the Pouncey brothers (Maurkice and Mike) have had their fare share of success too.
And last but certainly not least, Aaron Hernandez. You know, the player that Netflix just released a three-part documentary on that is both just mind-blowing and disturbing. Yea he was on that team too.
I want – no need – to know what an average day was like in that locker room, better yet the campus. How were the parties and night life? How did Meyer manage so many personalities? How many things were covered up? And most importantly how did everyone interact with Hernandez? Now that’s a documentary I want to watch.