If you’re a basketball observer, you should know about this.
If you’re not a basketball fan, you will be.
All you must do is this: Catch the multiple episode ESPN series called “Basketball: A Love Story.”
No, it doesn’t take the place of “The Last Dance” ⎯ Michael Jordan’s documentary series that has everyone spellbound for two hours each Sunday night, at least through this weekend’s finale ⎯ but it’s got plenty of MJ stuff in it.
“Basketball: A Love Story” is all in on hoops history. The stats: It’s 10 episodes, 20 hours.
Like any good love story, it begins at the beginning.
Women’s hoops and the Harlem Globetrotters, Wilt and Russell, Kobe, Shaq and Phil, Michael, the Dream Team, college corruption, scandals … the Celtics and Lakers, Magic and Bird, plus Wooden’s years at UCLA.
If that’s not enough for you, there’s more.
Dan Klores is the star of this show. This is his inspirational work.
The NFL lives for stuff like this.
Baseball has the Ken Burns documentaries from the 1990s, which delivers as much as Klores’ efforts.
NFL has countless historical perspectives with Sam Spence music.
Some local nuggets: Gerry Wright, “Sir Jamalot” from San Gorgonio’s playing days in the 1980s, served as a backup to Atlanta’s Dominque Wilkins back in the 1990s.
Then there’s Danny Wolthers, a Redlands High mainstay, a Cal-Berkeley product who could’ve chosen to play at UCLA under Wooden. Drafted in 1965 by the San Francisco Warriors, it was the same draft that produced Rick Barry, Billy Cunningham and Jerry Sloan.
Wilkins, Barry, Cunningham and Sloan are prominent in “B:ALS.”
“B:ALS” has some naysayers, but they’re mixed reviews about what’s not included instead of what’s there.
For instance: “Love Story” has nothing about “Malice in the Palace,” which in no way belongs in an introspective and honest piece. “B:ALS” has plenty of humbling, honest moments.
The Olympics, including 1960 teammates Jerry West and Oscar Robertson. To win an NBA title, each star needed a big man to pull it off. Both West and the Big O got one of their own.
Olympic dreams and nightmares are covered in this work of TV hoops-playing art.
Find out how the Boston Celtics’ influence led to the Lakers’ first-ever title in L.A. As a side note, it tells the true story of Elgin Baylor’s retirement.
Elvin Hayes speaks out about Kareem.
There was the foreign invasion ... Dirk, Duncan, Manu, Yao, Olajuwon.
And the WNBA! ABA and Dr. J. There’s a little bit of everything in this show. It’s hard-hitting, honest, in-depth and brings the game to life in all forms.
Wish I could tell you more.
This is as creatively artistic as it is humanly opportunistic in celebrating the greatest female players in legitimate format.
This is the Super Bowl of basketball programming.
ESPN ought to award itself a Lifetime ESPY for this one, folks.
I’ll end the suspense now: Le Bron James’ name does come up in the programming. There’s a chance to re-live “The Decision.”
Golden State’s dynasty greater than San Antonio?
Showtime or the Triangle?
The slam dunk or the 3?
It goes from the peach basket to analytics.
In the end, the show lives up to a love story.
Like any good show, it leaves you wanting more.
* * *
There’s a wide-open chase for a starting cornerback spot on this year’s Minnesota Vikings’ roster. It includes onetime San Gorgonio great Nate Meadors, who has seen a complete re-design of the Vikings’ roster at that position.
The onetime UCLA corner, who probably should’ve made his move into the NFL draft after his junior season (he played a pressure CB spot, taking on WRs right on the line of scrimmage), stayed for that first season of new head coach Chip Kelly.
We won’t go into all of it, but Meadors’ senior season was disastrous. Change of coaching ¬⎯ Jim Mora Jr. to Chip Kelly ⎯ led to that outcome.
(Quite a few Bruins left the program, including Redlands East Valley hero Jaelan Phillips, who transferred to Miami.).
Under Kelly’s defensive scheme, Meadors played back, allowing those freewheeling Pac-12 receivers open lanes down the field. Mora’s scheme was tight coverage at the line of scrimmage.
As for the Vikings, consider that three starting CBs from last year’s roster are gone. But Minnesota drafted three more and signed another undrafted free agent.
According to Vikings’ media coverage specialists, Minnesota usually keeps six CBs on its roster.
Seems like Meadors might have a better shot at making this year’s roster than he did in his 2019 rookie season.
As always, it’s a wait and see.
(Got a sports tip? Want to chat sports? Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org)