Bill Simmon's "30 for 30" documentaries idea has taken the sporting world by storm over the past 11 months.
Last evening, I was at the gym getting a work out in after a long day at the office. While working out, I would fixate on the clock every few minutes. Typically, I am never in a hurry to leave the gym in that it is my relaxation for the day during the work week. It is kind of closure to my day before I sit down to eat dinner and watch the Red’s game. But realizing that the “30 for 30” special featuring Michael Jordan was on at 8, I made sure to keep track of the time. And once it hit 8 on the dot, I darted out of the gym, and sprinted all the way home. From 8:05 until 9:00 (yes I was 5 minutes late), I did not move from my chair, even during commercial breaks as I watched, “Jordan Rides the Bus.”
This has been a common thread for me and many other sports fans during the past 11 months for these “30 for 30” specials. These specials have truly become a phenomenon. And rightfully so. The idea originated from one of the best in the business. One of the guys in the sporting world, that whether you agree with his opinions or not, you are still going to read his column. And his columns are some of the longest I have ever read regarding sports, but you better believe I read every word. None other than Boston’s biggest homer, the “sports guy,” Bill Simmons.
Simmons proposed the idea because he felt that some of the events that have occurred during the past 30 years, throughout the ESPN era, could really be more than just a another blip on the radar. They could be turned into documentary specials. There are many fine directors out there. Why not really delve into some of these special events and capture the interest of current, past, and future sporting fanatics? The first special of the 32 part series filmed in October of 2009 documenting the story of “The Great One,” Wayne Gretzky, leaving Edmonton for Los Angeles, and completely changing the scope of the NHL. Other “30 for 30” specials that have really caught my eye have been “Muhammad and Larry,” “Without Bias,” “The U,” “Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs the New York Knicks,” and last evenings, “Jordan Rides the Bus.” In total 18 of these 32 specials have aired. And you better believe I am hyped for the next 14.
I will admit I love Sportscenter and all of the shows that the greatest sporting network in the world (ESPN) has to offer. Even at times if items get entirely too repetitive, that is all a part of the world we live in today. Communication is constant and connectivity is at a premium. But these specials, are done so well, are extremely informative, and very entertaining at the same time. I guess that is what you get when you take big time directors and let them put out footage on sporting events. Last evening, really brought back some memories of my young childhood. I mean I could not have told you all the details of what had happened when Jordan left the League to pursue an ambition of playing professional baseball. I was just a little kid. This special last night though, provided me and probably the rest of America with some much-needed perspective. I mean how many people knew that Terry Francona, the current manager of the Boston Red Sox, was Michael’s manager for the Birmingham Barons?
These specials in essence, connect the dots for people. They bring these major stories of the past to life and provide some closure. Many of these stories may have been analyzed and shown on various sporting news shows over the years, but never has their been a major director showing the facts through expert cinematography.
So thank you Bill Simmons. America appreciates you coming up with this simple, yet innately innovative idea.
And make sure to tune in next week for the special entitled, “Little Big Men,” which will document when the 1982 Kirkland, Washington All Stars shocked the world, and brought the Little League World Series Title back to the United States.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.