Wednesday, July 01, 2015

ESPN Films 30 for 30 Vol 2: Sole Man

I watched Sole Man. This is the twenty-ninth installment of ESPN's 30 for 30 volume II. An episode guide for Vol II is here.

Sole Man is the story of Sonny Vaccaro. The directors joked that Vaccaro is the real-life "Forrest Gump" of basketball. If you pick a significant event, team or game over the past 30-plus years, and chances are Vaccaro has a direct connection to it.

Vaquero founded the ABCD All America Camp, an elite showcase of high school basketball standouts, which ran from 1984 to 2007. He cofounded the first national high school All-Star game, The Dapper Dan Roundball Classic, with concert promoter and boyhood friend Pat DiCesare in Pittsburgh in 1965.

Hired by Nike, Vaccaro helped them build a marketing empire. He is largely responsible for convincing the company to take a chance with a very young Michael Jordan.

Fired by Nike, Vaccaro went to work for Adidas. There, he set his sights on a high school star named Kobe Bryant. Sonny and a former friend start a bidding war between Nike and Adidas. He eventually left Adidas to work for Reebok.

More recently, Vaccaro has been involved in Ed O'Bannon's class action suit with the NCAA over the organization's use for commercial purposes of the images of its former student athletes. The suit argued that upon graduation, a former student athlete should become entitled to financial compensation for future commercial uses of his or her image by the NCAA.

Sonny Vaccaro participated in the making of the documentary. He is interviewed extensively. While not my favorite of Volume 2, it is another story that I really didn't know much about. It is worth seeking out.

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