After a three month hiatus, ESPN aired the eighth installment of their 30 for 30 film series, Winning Time: Reggie Miller versus the New York Knicks. I turned it on Sunday night just to check and make sure that it was being DVR'ed and Sharon, Jack and I got drawn into watching the whole thing. The film tells the story of the 1994 and 1995 NBA basketball play-off series between the Indiana Pacers and the New York Knicks.
1994 and 1995 were particularly interesting years because Michael Jordan was playing minor league baseball. His absence from the NBA created an opportunity and a sense of urgency for a number of teams, including the Pacers and the Knicks.
I was particularly captivated by three aspects of the film. First, the NBA game was much more physical then. There was a lot more fighting and hard fouls. By increasing the penalties and the length of suspensions, David Stern has effectively softened the game over the last fifteen years. Second, I did not realize how good a basketball player Cheryl Miller was. Reggie Miller grew up trying to compete against his older sister who was a better basketball player for much of his early life. Third, the subplot of Reggie versus Spike Lee has some amazing footage. Spike Lee has court side seats in Madison Square Garden. Lee and Miller spent a number of games in the two play-off series trash talking each other.
As an NBA fan, I enjoyed this installation of the 30 for 30 series a great deal. Bill Simmons has a podcast with Dan Klores, the director of the film; I am planning to listen to it in the next couple of days.
The film is available on Amazon.
Winning Time is also available on iTunes.