Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Week in Review

This past week was one to remember in the world of sports.  Five different TION words stick out to me to describe exactly why it was so memorable.  We had a star quarterback accused of attempted seduction, a pitcher who was near perfection, a prodigal son returning in a mid-season acquisition, The Monsters of the Midway in the midst of self-destruction, and a successful college basketball program admitting corruption.  In my estimation it deserved a week in review, so here it is.    

Attempted SeducTION:

The Recipient of Favre's Advances
Apparently Brett Favre didn’t get the memo delivered by fellow athletes Grady Sizemore and Greg Oden titled, When in Doubt, You’re Better off Keeping Your Privates…..Private.  If he did, he would never have sent pics of his “most important teammate” to former Jets reporter Jenn Sterger because of the inevitability that it would leak out somehow.  Now, Brett faces irreparable damage to both his marriage and his reputation.  My question is, what on earth was he thinking?
At least Oden and Sizemore were partaking in consensual sext with their girlfriends at the time.  Favre on the other hand, although all the details have not surfaced, appears to have engaged in nonconsensual sexting with Ms. Sterger.  Even though she refused all his other advances (creepy myspace messages and voicemails), Favre just couldn’t grasp the concept of no, and tried to pull one last trick out of his pants.  Makes sense right? Athletic prowess…..NO Thanks.  Fame…..NO Thanks.  Money…….NO Thanks.  The only logical next step for Don Favreleone was to make her an offer that she couldn’t refuse.  Unfortunately, Mr. Favre greatly overestimated Lil Bretts appeal and greatly underestimated Jenn Sterger’s sense of dignity.

Weird thing is, even though I’m a Bears fan, I’ve always liked Favre.  There is something about his good ole’ boy mentality and his enthusiasm for the game that draws me in with the rest of America.  My fondness for him even allows me to dismiss the ego-maniac saga that he puts us through every offseason with a “Well, he just loves the game so much and can’t get away from it” defense.  But a married man smut peddling to an unwilling mistress,  THAT I can’t give him a free pass on regardless of how hot the unwilling mistress is.  Sextual harassment is a no-no in my book.

What I don’t get is why Favre seems to be getting a free pass on this.  During Tigergate, the media was relentless and rightfully so.  Brett’s infidelity on the other hand, seems to have JFK-like “let’s turn a blind eye because we like him” coverage.  This is not to say that he is not catching any heat, because he is, but not to the degree that a nude photo to a female team employee should.  Maybe the reason for this is that members of the media are in the midst of researching other stories that have developed as a result of this one.  I’ve got to think that if Farve was capable of something like this, we have not even scratched the surface of his sexual deviancy.  As Tiger knows, when it rains it pours and I’m guessing that it will be pouring bitter female cheeseheads in the upcoming weeks if reporters are willing to dig deep enough.

Close to PerfecTION:

Perfection and No-No in Same Season
Roy Halladay, who is affectionately being dubbed Mr. Doctober, threw his second no-hitter of the 2010 season.  The first, a perfect game, came back in April.  The second, on Wednesday, made Halladay only the second pitcher to have two no-hitters in the same season (the other being Nolan Ryan).  The superlatives do not stop there.  His remarkable performance was the second post-season no-hitter in the history of the game and the first of the completely sober variety.  Halladay also joined an illustrious club with six other pitchers who can boast that they pitched both a no-hitter and a perfect game in their careers.  Unbelievably, Halladay accomplished all this in his first post-season start ever. 

To put his post-season no hitter into perspective, think about all that has occurred since the last time it happened (Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1956):

-           Home run records have gone full circle.  Ruth’s records became Maris’ and Aaron’s.  Maris’ and Aaron’s records became McGwire’s and Bonds’.  McGwire’s record became Bonds’ record.  Both of Bonds’ records became Ruth’s and Aaron’s once again (at least in the public's eyes).

-          Actor Ronald Reagan became the president of the free world

-          Michael Jackson went from being adored, to admired, to despised, to tolerated, back to admired again

-          Ray Lewis and OJ were able to beat a murder charge, Kobe and Big Ben escaped rape charges, and Blago was vindicated of political corruption charges. 

-          Newspapers have become extinct, while blogs like The Sox Market have become the wave of the future.

-          The Chicago Cubs were finally able to win the worl……oh wait, that hasn’t happened.   The Boston Red Sox were finally able to win the World Series.

-          The Situation, Snooki, and J-Wow have become wealthy and household names, while once thought to be main stays M.C. Hammer and Vanilla Ice have lost it all and become blasts from the past.

-          We’ve gone from Rosa Parks trying to sit down on a bus to Barack Obama as our president.

-          Leonardo Dicaprio, who once took a back seat to Kirk Cameroon, is now taking a backseat to no one.

-          Tiger has gone from challenging the record of Nicklaus, to breaking the record of Chamberlain.

With all that taken into consideration, Halladay’s no-no takes on much greater significance.   Who knows what will take place in our world before we see a pitcher do something like that again?   I’m guessing the word associations of Timberlake-Oscar, Miley Cyrus-Celebrity Rehab, Facebook-Pong and Bin Laden-Found will be more apropos than Postseason-No Hitter over the course of the next fifty years.  Take a bow Doc.  I’ll probably be dead or have the ability to time travel before someone accomplishes what you did this past week.

The AcquisiTION

In one respect, Christmas has come early for Brett Favre as the Vikings acquired the best wide receiver in the history of the game early last week, proving to children everywhere that Santa really doesn’t care how you behave.  In the case of #4, Claus may have been making a list and checking it twice, but he doesn’t really care if Brett was naughty or nice, because Randy Moss is commmmmming to tooooownnnnnnn.
Moss has been #1 on Favre’s wish list for many years, dating back to his days with the Packers.  Well let me amend that statement, the aforementioned Ms. Sterger probably occupied the top spot in 2008, but other than that, Moss has been Favre’s most desired toy.  Now, he finally will have him at his disposal and it could not have come at a better time.  In the midst of a terrible start to the 2010 season and in the week in which his personal life took a gigantic hit, Moss could be just the remedy Favre needs to improve his numbers on the field and distract him from what is going on off the field.  Let’s face it, if Farve is able to return to 2009 form over the course of the next four to five weeks, everyone will forget about his marital woes.  Hell, Kobe is a hero again and Bill Clinton is remembered as a great president.  While the pictures will never go away, with better performance on the field, the story will.
Brett's New Toy
Here is what I predict.  Moss and Favre pull a 2008 Celtics and revive their careers once again.  By week 8, the Vikings are on top of the NFC Central.  By week 10, stories come out that Brett and Deanna Favre have an Andre Kirilenko and Masha Lapatova like agreement.  By week 14, the Vikings have locked up a playoff birth.  By week 16, Sterger comes out of hiding and says that while Favre creepily pursued her, the pictures are not of him.  Ines Sainz confirms this, stating that she recognizes the man in the picture from her time working in the Jet’s locker room, but that it is not Favre.  Favre holds a press conference and gives an “aw shucks I told you it wasn’t me, I just want to play football” speech.  The Vikings go on to win the Super bowl, Favre and Sterger present an award at the ESPY’s together, Farve finally decides to retire, and then he ultimately unretires again after training camp ends.  Thirty years down the road, ESPN does a 60 for 60 film in which Favre credits “The Acquisition” (That’s the Title) of Randy Moss for rebuilding his reputation, salvaging the 2010 season, saving his marriage, and finally setting him up with Sterger by acting as his wingman at TO’s Hall of Fame induction after party.  Couldn’t you picture all of that happening?  I could and I do.


As a Bears fan, the Sunday Night Football Game last week between the Giants and the Bears was the worst game I have ever seen bar none.  Never before had I feared for the life of a player like I did of Jay Cutler.   Every time he dropped back to pass it felt like a game of Russian roulette.  Death was possible, injury highly probable, and failure inevitable.  Luckily for Jay, only two out of three of those turned out to be true.   The concussion that he suffered at the end of the first half was a blessing in disguise and allowed him to play and live another day.

I have never seen an offensive line be completely manhandled like that in all my years of watching football.  At first I thought it might be some grand offensive strategy by Mike Martz to lull the Giants into a false sense of security, but after sack number seven, I realized that was just wishful thinking on my part.  Fact is, the Bears had no answer for the Giants pass rush and I have no more words to expound on the subject.  Actually I do.   How about bringing in Sandra Bullock to give each guy on the O-Line a pep talk like she did with Michael Oher in the Blindside?  “This team is your family Roberto (Garza), when you look at Jay, you think of me, how you have my back.  Are you gonna protect the family Roberto?”  I mean did you see how much those words changed Michael’s demeanor in the movie?  Considering how that must have really happened since the movie was based on a true story, I’d have to think Bullock (or the real woman) could be equally effective with the Bear’s O-Line.  Couldn’t hurt right?


"What I do?"
My buddy Mix is a diehard UCONN Huskie basketball fan.  During our time in college, UCONN and the Mix were at the height of their basketball glory.   In fact, in 2004 when they won the National Championship, I had never seen a happier human being in my life.  The Mix had a permanent smile on his face and he partied accordingly.  He was so confident in his Huskies that he used to bet me twenty dollars at the beginning of every year that UCONN would win the national championship. I got every other division 1 basketball team.  When I lost twenty bucks in 2004, I told the Mix that even though he won, it was still a stupid bet on his part based on the odds.  He disagreed, claiming that since he won, it was an incredibly smart bet and then made some reference alluding to how UCONN was a sure thing.  It was at that time, I decided that I was going to vehemently root against UCONN, not only because of his complete obsession with the team, but also because I thought they were running a dirty program.

Although I had no proof, I’d believed with all my heart that UCONN was cheating.  Mix wasn’t buying.  Not only did he think that Jim Calhoun was the greatest coach of all time, he also thought he was the model of integrity.  This led to numerous arguments where I would explain the logic behind why I thought he cheated, but Mix always held the ultimate trump card in each of these arguments.  Not once had their ever been any evidence of any wrongdoing by Calhoun or anyone associated with UCONN basketball.  That was until this past Friday.

The University of Connecticut has issued a 2-year self-imposed probation that includes a loss of one scholarship for illegal phone calls and text messages, as well as improper use of game tickets for high school players and their coaches.  While they disagreed with NCAA allegations against Calhoun that he failed to provide an atmosphere of compliance, they did concur that their men’s basketball program committed major violations.  Finally………….vindication.

When I broached the subject to the Mix, all he could say was “We’re talking about telephone calls.”  This indicated to me that he was still in denial.  It kind of reminds of a mother whose son was just convicted of double murder.  Even with DNA evidence, four eye witnesses, and a signed confession, the mother can’t and will never believe that their son is guilty.  If they did believe that, what does that say about them as a mother?  Similarly, the Mix will never admit that Calhoun and the Huskies are dirty.  If he did, what does that say about his team and all the joy that they have given him over the years?

The Mix, being in his final year of law school with a bright future as a DUI defense attorney, should know better than anyone that when there is smoke, there is usually fire.  If a person is convicted of stealing a car, what is the likelihood that they have stolen other cars or committed other criminal acts prior to when they got caught?  I’m going to guess the odds are very high that they have.  It just so happened that they were caught this time.  Similarly, does anyone really think that phone calls and game tickets are the only violations that Calhoun has committed?  The odds are heavily against it.  Once a cheater, always a cheater.  Mix knows this.  He just can’t bring himself to admit it.  He’s just hoping that other, more serious violations, never see the light of day.  As his friend, I hope so too, as long as he knows deep down that the Huskie Dawgs were a fraud. That’s good enough for me.  Oh yeah, I want my twenty dollars back too.     



Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Greatest Sports Movies in the History of the World (Part 2)

Need I Say More?

Sly Stallone batted an extremely impressive .666 (Same as Puzo with Godfathers and Kardashian with daughters) during the thirty year run of the Rocky saga from 1976 to 2006.  The first four movies were great, but the last two (V and Balboa) kind of reminded me of an over the hill and out of shape Michael Jordan lumbering up and down the court for the Wizards in the early 2000s.  Just like Jordan should have ended his career on his game winner to beat the Jazz in ’98, the character of Rocky should have ridden off into the sunset after IV, never to be seen or heard from again.  Similar to Jordan, who would never be able to eclipse what would have been the perfect ending to his career, Rocky would never be able to surpass what he accomplished in IV.  Think about it.  He was able to avenge a friend’s death, he proved that pre-historic training methods could trump high-tech and highly juiced regimens, and he was able to effectively end the Cold War with one of the greatest punch-drunk peace offerings of all-time.  How on earth did Stallone think he could top that?

What made IV so great was the antagonist Ivan Drago played by Dolph Lundgren.  Not only does he kill Rocky’s buddy Apollo during an exhibition match on American soil, but he has the audacity to coldly say “If he dies, he dies” as medics are trying to revive him.  His robotic lack of remorse, combined with his commie affiliation and questionable training tactics are just the push Rocky needs to get back into the ring and seek revenge.  For me, as a Patriot and Apollo Creed lover, I want Rocky to get his revenge, but at the same time, there is something about the big Russian that I find appealing, making me think to myself "I wouldn’t be THAT disappointed if he sent Rocky to see his maker as well."  I know that sounds awful but I’d equate it to what goes on in the head of a second-string high school quarterback.  Obviously, as a team player they want to win, but there is a tiny part of them who wants the guy playing ahead of them to throw 3 picks in the big game, come down with a bad case of mono mid-season, or get caught with a couple bags of weed on him at school.  All this ill will so that the coach will give them an opportunity.  It is only our competitive nature as humans to think this way.  Of course, this thought process goes away if the team is playing for something bigger than the individual; say a rivalry game or a state championship.  In these instances, the second-string guy is usually rooting whole-heartedly for the starter.  Similarly, while at first, part of me was rooting for Drago, when I realized in the last scene that Rocky could singled-handedly bring about the collapse of The Berlin Wall and the abolishment of the Iron Curtain with a knockout, I put all my chips in his corner.  Some things are just bigger than the game.

Fall from Grace:  Bridgette Nielson, who played Drago’s wife, was a hot young actress with a ton of potential.  She was married to Stalone, who was one of the biggest movie stars at the time, and had all the fame and money a six foot (By the way, that is the best part of IMDB, looking up the heights of actors and actresses and seeing how disappointed or surprised you are.  In the case of Nielson, I was extremely disappointed because I thought she was at least 6’4”) Dane woman could ask for.  Fifteen years later, she was a star on the Surreal Life and had traded in Sly for Flavor Flav.  While I’m sure Flav made her extremely happy, I have to think that if she could be granted a mulligan for the past 15 years, she’d take it.

I have so much to say about this movie that throwing a couple hundred words down seems like it would be an insult to William and Arthur.  Plus, saving what I have to say gives me something to write about in the future when I develop a bad case of inevitable writer’s block.  I will say this though; a screenwriter could not have written a better plot for how things happened in this documentary, which just goes to show that real life is the best human drama.  Man I’m deep.

4b. White Men Can’t Jump

When I was eight, I came down with a case of the Chicken Pox.  While the itchiness and red marks were certainly awful, one good thing came out of it; my mom felt really, really, bad for me, so much so that she allowed me to watch any R-rated movie that I wanted, one of which happened to be White Men Can’t Jump.  (Side Note:  I know what you are thinking, with that kind of parenting, I was probably dropping M-Fers by nine, doing tequila shots by 10, and fathering illegitimate children by 12.  Quite the contrary, I didn’t swear until I was a senior in high school and didn’t take my first sip of alcohol until my first year of college, proving that a.) I was a complete loser and b.) my mom knew what she was doing.)  Even at that age, I appreciated WMCJ (Don’t want to spell it out every time) as a great sports comedy which helped to improve my trash-talking and “yo mama” joke acumen tenfold.  The exchanges between Harrelson and Snipes, as well as the rest of the cast had me dreaming of being the Billy Hoyle of the Western Suburbs who would make weekend trips down to the West and South side to hustle my way to a fortune.  Although I never actually acted on this fantasy, just thinking about it, gave me motivation to become a better ball player.  Screw college hoops or an NBA career, this movie had me wanting to parlay my basketball talent into a professional sandbagging street baller like Billy Ho.

I really liked the quality of the basketball scenes in this movie as well.  While Harrelson’s game left a little to be desired, Snipes looked like he might have been able to play a little JUCO ball, and Flight and Willie from the Brotherhood tournament played at UCLA and New York University respectively.  Crazy Raymond, who tried to stick up a convenience store to play Sidney and Billy, and who after losing decided that he was going to get his gun to try to kill everyone, is none other than former UCLA star Marques Johnson.  Johnson, who is also known for his color commentary for FSN west coast college basketball games, played one of the best characters in the movie and had me convinced that he was a normal actor, and not simply the basketball player turned actor that he really was.  If only he could have taught Ray Allen a thing or two, the fortunes of He Got Game could have been dramatically different and had more people re-watching it for more than just the recruiting visit.

G-L-O-R-I-A:  I could have done without Rosie Perez’s character Gloria.  Her voice and overall demeanor are hard to stomach and let’s be honest; a stud like Billy should have been able to do much better.  Even Perez’s willingness to do a couple nude scenes could not overcome her annoyingness.  Now that is saying something.  Get rid of Perez and throw in someone like Marissa Tomei, who has proven to be far less annoying and equally pro-nudity, and WMCJ jumps into the top 3.

I have seen plenty of movies that would fall under the thriller or horror genre; however I have never jumped out of my seat or been more afraid than when Roy Hobbs was shot by Barbara Hershey’s character in The Natural.  As a kid, I used to have nightmares about that scene thinking that something like that could happen to one of my own sports heroes like Frank Thomas, Michael Jordan, or Walter Payton.  I couldn’t even imagine how devastated I would be if I was never able to see them play because they were gunned down right on the verges of superstardom like Hobbs.  Luckily, Hobbs was able to salvage his career as a hitter 15 years later, but I often wonder how nasty he might have been on the fictional mound if he was never fictionally shot.  I ‘d have to think, as a lefty, he’d have Glavine-like control, Koufax-like velocity, Randy Johnson-like mound presence, and a Buehrle-like glove.  Unfortunately, we were never able to see the pitching version of Hobbs in his prime, but did see a pretty good hitter with a penchant for late-game heroics.  With the pennant on the line and his self-made bat “Wonderboy “ shattered in half, Hobbs uses the bat boy’s “Savoy Special” to hit a towering home run which both breaks the right field lights and gives the New York Knights the pennant.  This culminating scene is outstanding, not only for what happened, but for the musical score that goes along with it.  Go to 3:40 in this clip if you are in the mood to get goose bumps.  Now, go back and watch it again, but this time do it on mute.  Still cool, but the music is what makes the scene and the movie.

Different Ending?:  The movie is actually based on a book by Bernard Malamud.  In that version, Hobbs strikes out instead of hitting the pennant winning home run that he does in the movie.  In my opinion, Hollywood should have stuck with that original story, because it is more true to real life.  Sure, everyone loves hearing about a good comeback now and again, and some guys even have some initial success, but usually old guys giving it one final go, ends in disaster.  Think Magic Johnson post-HIV, Brando in Don Juan De Marco, or anything that Eddie Murphy has done after 1996 for examples.  When you are past your prime, you’re past your prime.  Then again, without that final scene, the chance of goose bumps is significantly lower.  Goose bumps, Realistic, Goose bumps , Realistic, Goose bumps, Realistic….. damn it, I guess I got to go with goose bumps.  Score one for tinsel town.

The funniest movie on this list is naturally the most quotable.  I can count on one hand, how many times I have watched a baseball game or other sporting event where I have not quoted this movie in some way, shape, or form (either in my head or out loud).  Most notable examples from the recent past:

-          “Vick, a juvenile delinquent in the off-season”

-       Ball Four, Ball Eight, Ball 12, and Ankiel has walked the bases loaded on 12 straight pitches.   How  can guys lay off pitches that close?”

-          “Nice Catch Rickey, Don’t ever %#%#ing do it again”

-          “Giambi leads the league in all offensive categories, including nose hairs”

-          “Yo Bartender, Griese needs a refill”

-          Anytime a third-stringer makes a bad play in a Bear’s preseason game “Shit, I’ve been cut  already?”

This movie is filled with fairly big name actors including Wesley Snipes, Charlie Sheen, Rene Russo, and Tom Berringer, but it is Bob Uecker who steals the show.  Uecker, the Milwaukee Brewers actual radio play-by-play man, plays Indians play-by-play man Harry Doyle.  Doyle drinks on the job, swears on the air, and acts like the ultimate homer, making the likes of Hawk Harrelson and Tom Heinsohn seem neutral.  He’s kind of like the lime in a Corona.  Without it, the Corona will still taste good and you’ll still achieve your desired effects from drinking it, but with it, you go from being at the table with Bud Light to partying it up with Guiness.  Similarly, without Uecker, Major League is still very good, but with him, the movie becomes great.

The main reason I rank Major League so high is because it is the only movie where I can recite every word from beginning to end.  In fact, as a kid, I could say the entire movie without it actually being on, starting with “Good Morning Gentlemen, welcome to another season of Indian’s baseball” and ending with “The Indians win it, The Indians win.  Oh my god, the Indians win it.”  Do you know how hard that is to do?  That is like being able to sing the entire “Thriller” album without the music or being able to recite verbatim the “Gettysburg Address”, Wilson’s “14 Points”, and throwing in MLK’s “I Had A Dream” for good measure.  I really do not know how I did it, but I do know that if the movie was not highly entertaining, extremely re-watchable, and about sports, it would have been impossible.  You know how people who used to be fluent in a language, kick themselves for letting it slip away?  One of the greatest regrets of my life is that I let my ability to recite Major League (without the movie being on, thought I needed to repeat that part of it) go by the wayside.  Just think of how useful that would have been at college parties and with the emergence of Youtube and America’s Got Talent, I could have been a star.  Instead, I write this now, and you read it now, extremely skeptical that I used to be able to do it.

2b.  Field of Dreams

I accidentally left this movie off the list when I first posted, but long-time blog reader, first-time blog commenter Charlie from Buffalo quickly pointed out the mistake.  All I can say is that I must have had a temporary brain cramp, especially since FOD is tied with Major League as my second favorite sports movie of all time.  It's inexcusable that I did not put it on the original list.  I'll blame it on the records that I was trying to set this past Saturday night for both speed and reps.

This was Costner and James Earl Jones's best movie and it was Liotta's second best movie (behind Goodfellas).  You know what that tells me considering that those three actors have upper-echelon A-list resumes?  It tells me that Field of Dreams must have been real, real, good and that it had a much larger appeal than just simply to sports-minded people.  You have your "early nineties sexiest man alive" audience, your "hey where do I know the voice of Simba's father from?" crowd, and your "Wow, Goodfellas was so awesome that I'm going to watch every movie that Ray Liotta was ever in" followers.  For that matter Field of Dreams gets the "wasn't Timothy Busfield somewhat relevant once" viewers as well.  Clearly, it has more global appeal than any other movie on this list and should be recognized for that.

"If you build it, he will come" is probably the most recognizable line in the history of sports movies.  It's one of my all time favorites and foreshadows a scene that I know in the future, after my father has passed, will make me cry like a baby.  We find out in the last scene, that Shoeless Joe was not the person that "the voice" was referring to, but it was actually about Ray's father.  The last scene gives Ray a chance to play catch with his deceased father again, something that he once refused to do as a kid.  The scene is great, except for one thing.  Instead of asking his dad if he wants to "play catch", he asks if he wants to "have a catch"?  I know, I know, Ray and his father are supposed to be from New York and that's what New Yorkers say, but that doesn't mean it's right.  These are the same people who say they "waited online at Six Flags for over an hour,"  confusing anyone else who is listening to them who is not from New York.  And besides, shouldn't Costner have followed the old "When in Rome" theory, because when in Iowa, you ask your father to play catch, not have a catch.  Minor detail, but those are the types of things that can keep you out of the top spot on the list.  Jimmy Chitwood would never tell Norman Dale that he had been practicing his "killer crossover and has been breaking a lot of ankles lately".  Like the Costner line, that just wouldn't feel right.                     

No question, without a doubt, the greatest sports movie of all-time.  Three words, uttered by Jimmy Chitwood, “I’ll make it”, define this movie and put it a couple notches above The Natural on the goose bump scale.  Based on true events, this is the ultimate underdog story which gives hope to all small schools at both the high school and collegiate level.  So much so that I’m going to make a bold statement that, while completely improvable, speaks to the inspirational power that Hoosiers provides.  Without this movie being made in 1986, the 2010 Butler Bulldogs never play for a national championship.   Here’s why:

1.)  I guarantee that Butler coach Brad Stevens used Hoosiers as a selling point to all his homegrown Indiana boys as a way to recruit them to Butler in the first place

2.)  I guarantee that playing in Hinkle field house, where the final scene from Hoosiers was filmed and where they used to play the state high school basketball championship was one of the reasons why each player decided on Butler.

3.)  I guarantee that every player on Butler has watched Hoosiers at least 5 times, some who have eclipsed over 50 viewings

4.)  I guarantee that they watched the movie together as a team before at least 3 of their tournament games.

5.)  I will 100% guarantee that Brad Stevens quoted the movie during his pre-game talks before both their elite 8 game and the national semifinal game.

All of this combined, as corny as it sounds, gave them the talent first (from the recruiting) and then the confidence later to believe that they could win it all.  Without Hoosiers, you’re watching Michigan State vs. Duke in the national championship.  Nothing in the world could convince me otherwise.

Getting back to the movie itself, Gene Hackman did an unbelievable job with his character of Norman Dale.  Hackman, who played small town high school basketball in Illinois, was completely believable in his role.  Just think of all the people who have played coaches who you thought as you were watching them act “This guy doesn’t know the first thing about sports.”  I’m guessing you could come up with a lot of examples.  While watching Norman Dale, I never once thought that.  In fact, I’m guessing if Hackman got a couple of instructional DVDs and reacquainted himself with the modern game that he could do just fine coaching at the high school level.  After all, a lot of coaching and teaching requires being a good actor.  I’m pretty sure he could manage that.

Unlike some movies on the list, this one will stand the test of time.  Twenty years from now, when my son or daughter has a huge game looming, you can be sure that the final scene from Hoosiers will be watched on their virtual reality sunglasses as their automated car drives them to school.  I know this because there will never be another movie like it and even if there is, they will already be so brainwashed by me that they won’t care to watch anything else. 

Added Bonus:  When my dad retired and decided to go back to school to become a teacher and coach, he started out as an assistant varsity coach.  This led to numerous jokes by members of my family where we referred to him as Shooter.  Even though it made no sense because one, my dad isn’t a booze bag, and two, he doesn’t embarrass me at all; it was still funny to refer to him as that and I think he secretly kind of liked it due to his affinity for the movie.

Well that’s it.  After almost 5,500 words, we finally have an accurate list of the greatest sports movies of all time.   That wasn’t so hard, I’m just glad I was able to set the record straight once and for all.  If you disagree, don’t be afraid to write it in the comment section, just know upfront that you’re wrong.