Wednesday, November 09, 2011

ESPN Films: Unguarded

Running on the treadmill over two nights, I watched Unguarded. The documentary is airing as part of a series of seven documentaries that ESPN Films is running this fall.

This is film is the story of Chris Herren. Herren led his high school basketball team to the Massachusetts State Chanpionship two years in a row. Highly recruited out of high school, he ended up playing one year for Boston College. Struggling with drug and alcohol problems, he left the program and then joined Jerry Tarkanian's Fresno State team. Herren ended up playing three years at Fresno State.

After college, Herren was selected by the Denver Nuggets in the second round (33rd overall) of the 1999 NBA Draft. This was an amazing draft class. It included: Elton Brand; Steve Francis; Baron Davis; Lamar Odom; Wally Szczerbiak; Richard Hamilton; Andre Miller; Shawn Marion; Jason Terry; Corey Maggette; Ron Artest; James Posey; Kenny Thomas; Devean George; Andrei Kirilenko; and Manu Ginóbili. The home movie and local television footage of Chris watching the draft with his family and friends is captivating.

Herren played the 1999-2000 season with the Nuggets. In October of 2000, he was traded to the Boston Celtics. Herren was waived by the Boston Celtics after one season on October 29, 2001. Never conquering his addiction issues, Herren played overseas in a number of countries, including China and Turkey, trying to work his way back into the NBA.

Given his addictions, it is amazing what Chris Herren accomplished in college and in his brief stint in the NBA. It makes you wonder what he might have accomplished if he lived up to his full potential as a basketball player.

After undergoing some treatment programs starting in the mid-2000's, Chris Herren currently spends part of his time as an inspirational speaker. The film switches between him talking to groups about his life and personal struggles with actual footage from his life. It is a fairly powerful way to tell the story. While it can be difficult to watch someone be so self destructive with his life, the filmmakers have done a solid job telling the story.

In addition to Amazon, Unguarded is also available on iTunes.

Bill Simmons did a very good hour plus podcast with Chris Herren talking the film and his life. In some way, I feel like the podcast was even better than the film! The podcast allowed Simmons to explore Herren's life; listening to Herren answer questions provided a much more penetrating view of who he is.

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