Wednesday, April 14, 2010

ESPN 30 for 30 - Guru of Go

On Sunday, I finished watching the Guru of Go. This is the ninth installment of ESPN's 30 for 30 series. The film tells the story of Paul Westhead. The story of Paul Westhead becomes the story of Loyola Marymount, Bo Kimble and Hank Gathers.

As a head coach, Westhead won an NBA Championship with the Lakers in 1980 and a WNBA Championship with the Phoenix Mercury in 2005. Between 1970 and the present, he has coached almost 20 different teams at a variety of levels. Everywhere he has coached, Westhead has worked to implement an unorthodox, uptempo, run-and-gun style.

Westhead was a Shakespeare scholar and the film uses Shakespeare quotes as a vehicle to move between scenes.  Over the years, he kept journals; fragments from the journals are used to tell the story.

Westhead coached at Loyola Marymount from 1985 to 1990. Kimble and Gathers became the centerpiece of arguably the most entertaining college team in history. The team holds the record for the five highest scoring games in NCAA Division 1 history.

Hank Gathers died on the court during the conference tournament in 1990. The scenes of Hank Gathers' collapse on the court and the current interviews with people trying to talk about the incident twenty years later are both difficult to watch and extremely powerful.

After Gathers' death, Loyola Marymount went on to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament before losing to the eventual champion UNLV. The footage from these tournament games is riveting.

While maybe not the best of the 30 for 30 series (I really enjoyed The "U" and Winning Time), it is definitely worth watching.

The film is available on Amazon.

The Guru of Go is also available on iTunes.

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