ESPN's 20-hour Basketball: A Love Story is somehow insufficiently thorough
The Dan Klores-directed basketball-tribute documentary series that premieres tonight, airing in four-hour chunks over five weeks, is also available as a 62-part anthology of "short stories" narrated by a range of celebrities. And that's the problem, says Jack Hamilton. He adds: "Basketball: A Love Story’s embrace of short vignettes rather than a more straightforward, linear narrative too often lends the whole enterprise a half-baked and scattershot feel. Many of the topics tackled here have been explored with far greater depth and care by ESPN’s own film division. Watching a modest handful of the best basketball-related 30 for 30 entries—Celtics/Lakers: Best of Enemies, Requiem for the Big East, Free Spirits, and Fab Five, to name just a few—would likely give you a more informed gloss on basketball history. And while all historical narratives have their selection biases, the film’s patchwork structure allows it to effectively ignore moments that would complicate its sunny-side-up presentation of the sports’ trajectory. There’s precious little about Allen Iverson, for instance, one of the most complicated but significant figures in the modern game, nor is there much about the 2004 'Malice at the Palace' brawl and the league’s notoriously overzealous reaction to it." ALSO: Basketball: A Love Story is more like a Love, Actually-style rom-com than Ken Burns' Baseball.
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