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6/26/2008 02:21:00 PM

Top Five Sports Documentaries

Hoop Dreams
Roger Ebert named "Hoop Dreams" the best film of the '90s.
v/Getty Images
By Lang Whitaker, SI.com

This weekend sees the release of Gunnin' For That #1 Spot, a basketball documentary directed by Adam Yauch (who is perhaps better known as MCA from The Beastie Boys). The film follows a group of star basketball players including Mike Beasley and Kevin Love, then in high school, as they play in an all-star game and move closer to their dream of playing in the NBA. As far as sports documentaries go, Gunnin' will have a lot to live up to. Here are my top five sports documentaries of all time...

1. When We Were Kings: This film details the 1974 Rumble In The Jungle between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. The film is educational, but more than anything it’s entertaining thanks to Ali.

2. Hoop Dreams: A heartbreaker of a film about two kids from the inner-city of Chicago who are both banking on one day making it to the NBA to save themselves and their families. It's unflinching and tough to watch at times, but it's all incredibly real.

3. Beyond The Mat: For so long, pro wrestling was only presented to us through the lens of the WWF or WCW. This film showed us what life is like for wrestlers when they’re not in character, and it wasn't always as fun as when they're in the ring.

4. Dogtown and Z-Boys: Directed by Stacy Peralta, this movie documents the emergence of skateboarding and skating culture in California during the '70s. Not only does the movie tell a great story, but it's wonderfully shot and edited, capturing the feeling of the time.

5. A League Of Ordinary Gentlemen: Bowling! A League Of Ordinary Gentlemen is a great look at the Pro Bowling Association's decline and fight to regain prominence and credibility. Wayne Webb's odd obsession with karaoke is just one of the film's entertaining subplots.

What is your favorite sports documentary of all-time? Let us know below...

Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine and writes daily at SLAMonline.com
posted by SI.com | View comments |


Posted: June 27, 2008 11:13 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Posted: June 27, 2008 12:57 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
I'd like to mention two:
"Endless Summer" - Bruce Brown's 1966 account of two surfers worldwide search for the perfect wave. Brown's informal narative style became a standard for future documentary firm makers.

"Olympia" - Leni Riefenstahl's movie of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. While the political overtones are certainly distasteful, the photography is stunning.
Posted: June 27, 2008 2:24 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
the rise and fall of the warrior, the ultimate warrior

tk in austin
Posted: June 27, 2008 3:13 PM   by Anonymous JFJ
1. Dare to Dream: The Story of the U.S. Women's Soccer Team

2. Joe Louis: America's Hero...Betrayed

3. Fists of Freedom: The Story of the '68 Summer Games.

Three of the best.
After When We Were Kings-which is fantastic, I think Murderball, a documentary about wheelchair rugby, is my second favorite. As somebody who plays rugby, but also have been a nurse on Neurology unit, this movie nailed the intensity of these wheelchair athletes while also doing a good overview of "Quad" injuries, and also dealing with pyscho-social, including sexual function, aspects of these players. A great documentary.
I second Murderball

The Heart of the Game is a great Doc about a girls basketball team and follows them for a few seasons. It was really dramatic and inspiring
Speedo: A Demolition Derby Love "Story"
Posted: June 30, 2008 5:08 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"This Old Cub"

Story of Ron Santo
Ken Burn's baseball documentary. 9 innings of American and baseball history rolled into one.
Posted: July 1, 2008 8:26 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
riding giants
Posted: July 4, 2008 12:38 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
What about "Riding Giants" thats a great one.
Posted: July 8, 2008 3:19 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Chiefs: Hoosiers on the rez

Step Into Liquid: The definitive modern surfing film.
Posted: July 8, 2008 9:57 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
What about "The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh?"
Posted: July 9, 2008 12:57 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Dogtown and Z-Boys - Skateboarding

First Saturday in May - Horseracing

King of Kong - Video games

All of these are kinda borderline for the sports category.
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