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The Art Of (Athletic) Storytelling

By 04.07.10

When it comes to sports, those who document them are almost as important as the athletes themselves. For those who are still not in the know, ESPN is the architect behind one of the greatest documentary campaigns ever. Their “30 For 30” series has already produced classics centering around subjects like Len Bias, The University of Miami, the Knicks/Pacers rivalry and even one on the way about the Los Angeles Raiders – narrated by Ice Cube.

But “the worldwide leader in sports” can’t possibly do a documentary on every thought-provoking story that’s happened over the years. Below are seven stories I wouldn’t mind being brought to TV. Pardon the lack of diversity.


Barry Sanders: The Enigma
Barry is still one of the greatest athletes of all time and one of main reasons the Thanksgiving Day game holds the merit it does. From the Heisman at Oklahoma State to his legendary pro career, his story is one that’s still largely composed of “what if’s?” What if he hadn’t have retired when he did? What if he had actually played for a contender at some point? Could he have been the greatest football player of all time? For a man whose talent and effort was never doubted, his career still poses more questions than answers.

The Kobe Bryant Sexual Assault Case – Given Kobe’s recent successes, this case feels like a distant memory. There has never been anything which explored this case in depth either. In 2003, KB’s legal mishap was a monumental and controversial time for the sport. From the portrayal of this case in the media, to Kobe’s ability to play at an amazingly high level after leaving court, this could come off more like a movie. Probably because the entire situation was.

The Sean Taylor Murder – This is still one of sports’ saddest stories. It is also one which will haunt the NFL for the foreseeable future. As a Cowboys fan, seeing the Redskins suffer on the field is one of the reasons life should be lived. The passing of a player, let alone the manner in which he died, make that “rivalry” downright trivial. It becomes especially troubling considering he is still supposed to be playing in the league. Unfulfilled potential is never an easy pill to swallow.

Ken Griffey, Jr. & The 1990’s – By far, KG24 was one of the standout athletes from the ’90s. He was like the perfect baseball player. His defensive plays were equally as amazing as the swing he used to put so many baseballs in orbit. Griff even won a home run derby with his hat turned backwards one time. This was back in the ‘90’s when backwards hats were the thing, too. Like Barry Sanders, Griff was a quiet kid who never really caused controversy. This also means his story still isn’t truly appreciated by the masses. Painful memories still run rampant when you realize he probably would be considered the greatest player ever had it not been for injuries. On a lighter note, he does have the greatest line of sneakers for a baseball player.

The (Current) UConn Women’s Basketball Winning Streak – At some point, the Lady Huskies are going to lose again. Maybe. But that doesn’t mean their story doesn’t deserve to be told. Winning 70+ straight (twice) is an accomplishment, regardless of sport. The fact that they’ve won all but one game by at least 10 points only adds icing to the cake. If that doesn’t guarantee a documentary, I’m not sure what else they’d have to do to gain some respect. Win a 100 straight? That’s not exactly out the realm of possibility either.

The Life & Times of Ron Artest – The King from Queens has lived a life you could write a book on. Or at least make a film about it. This is the same guy who still plays with a street mentality and admitted to having been tipsy numerous times while playing for the Bulls. There’s always the Pacers/Pistons brawl and his recent attempt to channel his inner Dennis Rodman as well. This, my friends, makes for quality television.

The Downfall of Maurice Clarrett – Once upon a time LeBron James wasn’t the only prodigy from Ohio. Teen phenom Maurice Clarett ran by, around and through every Big 10 defense en route to a national title. Life was good for the kid until he attempted to turn pro after his first two semesters. Those same praises which were being thrown his way disappeared and after he was released from the Broncos (he allegedly drank Grey Goose during practice), life went downhill. From college football’s peak to the state penitentiary. A true American nightmare.


TAGS30 FOR 30BARRY SANDERSDAN LEBATARDdetroit lionsESPNESPN FilmsKEN GRIFFEY JRLOS ANGELES LAKERSMAURICE CLARETTRON ARTESTSEAN TAYLORSMOKE BREAKSPORTSUConn Women's BasketballWashington Redskins

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