Sunday, November 24, 2013

ESPN Films 30 for Vol II: Free Spirits

I watched Free Spirits. This is the tenth 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.

Free Spirits looks at the short-lived Spirits of St. Louis of the American Basketball Association. The team played in St. Louis as the Spirits for two seasons: 1974-75 and 1975-76.

The film also looks at the career and life of Marvin Barnes. Barnes was one of the most colorful players on the team. He is interviewed for the film. Other players that played for the Spirits included Moses Malone, Maurice Lacus, Don Chaney and M.L. Carr.

One of the most surprising things for me was that Bob Costas was the started his career with the Spirits. Hired straight out of college, he was the radio announcer for the team.

When the American Basketball Association disbanded in 1976, four ABA franchises joined the NBA -- the Nets, Nuggets, Pacers and Spurs. But the owners of the Spirits, the brothers Ozzie and Dan Silna, struck an amazing deal to acquire future television money from the teams that joined the NBA. They got a one-seventh share from each franchise in perpetuity. Presently, the Silnas receive $14.57 million a year, despite being owners of a team that hasn't played one minute of basketball in 35 years.

This is definitely a 30 for 30 worth look for. It is one of the best of volume II.

Bill Simmons talked to Bob Costas about the 30 for 30 'Free Spirits' and memories from the ABA on his podcast.

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