Aug 15, 2012, 5:00 PM EST
You will be hard-pressed to find a more meaningful, emotional, powerful film about basketball than The Other Dream Team. The documentary about the 1992 Lithuanian team, which was blown out by the USA Dream Team in the Olympic semifinals in Barcelona, is the story of a basketball revolution that mirrored a literal political revolution in a small country trapped between superpowers. It will give you goosebumps, laughs and possibly a few tears.
The first service this film does for us is to illustrate, very clearly, the timeline that led to professionalized Olympic basketball as we know it today. In 1988, the USSR’s basketball team, with four Lithuanian starters, defeated a group of U.S. collegians and won the gold medal in Seoul. A sense of national embarrassment led to the formation of an NBA All-Legends team to compete in 1992 in Barcelona.
At the time, there was outrage in America that true amateurs were forced to compete against Russian “professionals”. In the film, Sarunas Marciulionis reveals that national team members made the equivalent of $100 a month.
Meanwhile, in Lithuania, the national government stood up to Soviet control, suffered invasion and atrocities, and gained independence in 1990. Players like Arvydas Sabonis and Sarunas Marciulionis scrambled to form a national team that could qualify for Barcelona under the new national flag. With travel expenses covered by a big check from the Grateful Dead, the team was born, clad in eye popping tie-dyed shirts donated by the band.
So you see, those Lithuanians, in a sense, created our Dream Team as well as their own.
A blog post can’t plumb the depths of this film. It is beautifully shot and edited. It tells a story few of us know, and it does so in entertaining fashion. The juxtaposition of the blood and death of the Lithuanian freedom fight to the psychedelic joy of the independent team in Barcelona is an irresistible shout-out to the human soul. It affirms the old trope that sports have meaning and power that reach far beyond frivolous game-playing.
There are so many funny moments as well, from Marciulionis’ recounting of the probable contact high he got while meeting Jerry Garcia, to 7’3″ Arvydas Sabonis describing his attempts to sneak out of his KGB-controlled dormitory in the trunk of an American friend’s Cadillac.
The film has already made waves as a 2012 Sundance selection, and will begin limited theater release on September 28th. In the meantime, let the trailer whet your appetite.
Dec 12, 2013, 11:09 PM EST
While Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon’s decision to start junior guard/forward Dez Wells at point guard when the season began was made due in part to the fact that Wells was Maryland’s best playmaker, the decision may have done more harm than good in the early going. For some point guards understanding the balance between…
Dec 12, 2013, 9:58 PM EST
In his three-plus seasons at LIU-Brooklyn, senior point guard Jason Brickman has been one of the more productive point guards in the country. With a career average of 8.6 points per game the San Antonio native isn’t a prolific scorer, but when it comes to setting up his teammates Brickman’s been sensational. On Thursday night…
Dec 12, 2013, 8:45 PM EST
With the graduation of Rotnei Clarke and the season-ending injury suffered by Roosevelt Jones before the season even began, the Butler Bulldogs found themselves with some serious adjustments to make in their first season as a member of the Big East. One player asked to step up under first-year head coach Brandon Miller has been…
Dec 12, 2013, 7:00 PM EST
Now that we’re a month into the college basketball season, it’s a good time to take a look at the impact that the new points of emphasis regarding contact have had on the sport. Of course there have been some foul-fests due to the combination of players and officials working to adjust to the rules…
Dec 12, 2013, 5:18 PM EST
With there being just six games on tonight’s schedule due to the majority of schools finishing up finals week, Thursday may qualify as one of the least active days on this season’s college basketball schedule. But that doesn’t mean there are no games of importance, as Maryland visits Boston College in the ACC opener for…
Dec 12, 2013, 2:47 PM EST
Boston College: For my money, Boston College has been the most disappointing team in the country this season. The Eagles have the talent to be a factor in the NCAA tournament discussion with Olivier Hanlan and Ryan Anderson surrounded by a solid group of role players. But they aren’t tough enough and they don’t defend.…
Dec 12, 2013, 2:07 PM EST
Another day, another update on just how beat up Michigan State is. According to Joe Rexrode of Freep.com, Matt Costello was not at practice, Gary Harris had his right ankle in a cast, Keith Appling’s wrist and hip were bothering him, and Adreian Payne’s plantar fasciitis was feeling good enough that he could practice. Those…
Dec 12, 2013, 1:54 PM EST
In a new series here on College Basketball Talk, every Friday we’re going to have a discussion about some of the hot topics in college basketball. The inaugural installment focuses on the ACC, the now 15-team conference that some stated was the greatest conference ever assembled before a game had been played. Now that we’ve…
Dec 12, 2013, 1:13 PM EST
Does Kentucky have an attendance issue? According to John Clay of the Lexington Herald-Leader, they do. Which is crazy when you think about it. Because this is the same program that brings in crowds for scrimmages and Midnight Madness that would set records at just about any other school in the country. But Clay’s got…
Dec 12, 2013, 11:31 AM EST
The former N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe has pleaded guilty to failing to file his North Carolina state tax returns for three years. According to the AP, Lowe received a suspended 45-day jail sentence, 36 months of unsupervised probation, and 100 hours of community service. He must pay more than $79,000 in back taxes plus a…
Dec 12, 2013, 11:03 AM EST
John Henson does not appear to be a fan of the NCAA. He’s in the NBA now, making millions as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks, which makes it seem like a strange time to lash out like this until you consider the plight of his former teammates, P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald. North Carolina’s…
Dec 12, 2013, 9:57 AM EST
On Thursday morning, the Cincinnati basketball team released a statement announcing that redshirt sophomore Jeremiah Davis will be transferring out of the program at the semester break. Davis’ family was struck with tragedy when their home was ravaged by a fire last month, and he made the decision to leave the Bearcats for a program…
Dec 12, 2013, 12:55 AM EST
GAME OF THE NIGHT: North Dakota State 73, Notre Dame 69 Marshal Bjorklund went for 26 points to lead North Dakota State to an upset win over Notre Dame on the Joyce Center on Wednesday night. It’s the second time that the Irish have lost at home this season, and that fact has Raphielle Johnson…
Dec 12, 2013, 12:21 AM EST
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson threw down this nastiness on New Mexico State on Wednesday night. Hollis-Jefferson is starting to emerge as one of the best players on this Arizona team. He’s versatile, he’s aggressive, he plays hard and he defends. He’s an athletic, ego-free baller, which is exactly the kind of piece that championship team have. He’s…
Dec 12, 2013, 12:12 AM EST
Last season Arizona forward Brandon Ashley was part of a trio of freshmen who arrived in Tucson amidst much fanfare. Joined by Grant Jerrett and Kaleb Tarczewski, the McDonald’s All-American was expected to hit the ground running in his debut campaign. While that didn’t happen Ashley was a productive member of a team that reached…
Dec 11, 2013, 9:40 PM EST
With the preseason favorites to win the Summit League visiting South Bend, tonight’s game against North Dakota State was no gimme for Notre Dame. And that’s exactly how it played out, as Marshall Bjorklund and his experienced teammates proved to be too much for the Fighting Irish to handle. Bjorklund scored 26 points on 11-for-14…
Dec 11, 2013, 7:45 PM EST
With some of the biggest names in collegiate athletics attending IMG’s Intercollegiate Athletics Forum in New York City, many of the major issues on the table were discussed. Among those issues were the possibility of giving scholarship athletes stipend to help cover the full cost of attendance, and how the NCAA members with the most…
Dec 11, 2013, 6:17 PM EST
When he committed to UNLV during the summer, forward Jamal Aytes had the look of a player capable of helping the Runnin’ Rebels account for the loss of reserve Savon Goodman, whose off-court issues resulted in his leaving the program. But that didn’t turn out to be the case, as in seven games Aytes saw…
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