Wednesday, December 04, 2013

ESPN Films 30 for 30 Vol II: Big Shot

Sharon and I watched Big Shots. This is the twelfth installment of ESPN's 30 for 30 Vol II. An episode guide for Vol II is here. With a very busy fall from a personal and professional perspective, I am still trying to catch up on all of the 30 for 30s that were released in October.

The Islanders were once a very successful hockey team. Founded in 1972, the team secured fourteen straight playoff berths starting with their third season. The Islanders won four consecutive Stanley Cup championships between 1980 and 1983, the seventh of eight dynasties recognized by the National Hockey League. Between 1980 and 1984, they won 19 consecutive playoff series, a feat still unparalleled in the history of professional sports.

Unfortunately, by 1996, New York Islanders were in serious trouble. An aging arena, lousy performance and poor management were driving away the team's fan base.

At this point, the team was sold to a Dallas businessman named John Spano for 165 million dollars. With Spano actually taking ownership of the team, things started to look up.

In a wild turn of events, Spano was a fraud who never put up any money to buy the team. He deliberately misled the NHL and the Islanders about his net worth and did not have the assets required to complete the deal. The film includes the only interview Spano has ever given.

This is an interesting story, but like a couple of the other 30 for 30 Volume II's seems a little long. It could have been an hour instead of an hour and a half. Sharon actually got bored and only watched the first half of the film with me.

Bill Simmons talked to the director Kevin Connolly about the film on his podcast in October.

A version of the film is here.

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