Passing The Time

March 30th, 2020

Well, sadly, another week has gone by. We at the Tucson Basketball League realize that there are many things in our members' lives far more important than when their next game is on the schedule, but we also want you to know that we will be back as soon as humanly possible. As I write this, it has just been announced that Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has instituted a statewide stay-at-home order through April 30th. That means that our next slate of games, at the very earliest, will be May 3rd. If we are able to start back up on that date (and, at this point, I sincerely see no reason why we shouldn't be able to), we'll finish the regular season and complete the playoffs in the month of May. If those in positions of authority want to extend the lockdown, then we'll have to adjust. But we'll get it done in a manner that is in the best interest of all of our members.

I'm trying (not completely successfully) to keep my opinions out of this. Suffice it to say that I believe that when the final history of this episode is written, a whole lot of "leaders" are not going to come off looking so great. But we'll see. In the mean time, we wish everybody the best of health and lots of patience in dealing with loved ones. It ain't always easy.

If this drags on into or (God forbid!) beyond May, I have a cool idea for the Summer session. It will be a way of giving back to our members and getting back to where we should be.

For the next couple weeks, you might scratch a little bit of your basketball itch by watching basketball movies. Everybody has their own taste on such things, but here's my Top 10 list of hoop films. Before the list, I have to say that there are things in certain movies that make me want to scream and keep me from enjoying the films. For example, I (as a writer) went to review the movie "White Men Can't Jump." I had loved Ron Shelton's previous movies "The Best of Times" and "Bull Durham." And I was really enjoying "White Men" until the scene where Woody Harrelson's character had to try to make a three-quarter court hook shot with his car and his relationship with Rosie Perez on the line. When he made the shot, 400 teenage boys in the theater whooped it up, while I, knowing how hard it is to even make a lay-up under pressure, said aloud, "Get the f--- outta' here." That basically kept me from loving that movie.

Here's my list (it is probably different from yours):

10. "White Men Can't Jump" - I don't love it, but I still like it. The opening scene where Harrelson hustles Wesley Snipes is classic. But the dumbass hook-shot scene and the lame ongoing argument about where someone can "hear" Jimi Hendrix keeps it down at No. 10.

9. "The Air Up There" - This is a guilty pleasure, not a great movie, but a really fun one. Kevin Bacon is a college assistant coach who goes to Africa to recruit a great player and gets caught up in tribal rivalries and royal politics. Bacon is not horrible as a basketball player.

8. "Above The Rim" - Tupac Shakur was going to be a movie star if he hadn't gotten on the wrong side of Suge Knight. Not an Ice Cube-kind of star, but a real dramatic actor.

7. "Space Jam" - Not really one of my favorites, but almost certainly one of yours. Has to be on the list.

6. "Love and Basketball" - So, I have a feminine side. Big deal. This is a really good movie.

5. "Hoop Dreams" - A heartbreaking documentary that follows two Chicago area prep players to surprisingly different career conclusions. 

4. "Finding Forrester" - Let's see...for a writer who went to college on a basketball scholarship, this one checks off the important categories. Rob Brown (who is also in "Coach Carter") plays a way-smart inner-city kid who gets recruited to play at a snooty prep school while, at the same time, strikes up an unlikely friendship with a reclusive writer (Sean Connery). I highly recommend it.

3. "Glory Road" - I'm old enough to have watched the legendary Texas Western - Kentucky game on TV when it happened. My friends and I gathered in the gym at the park in our inner-city neighborhood to root our butts off for Texas Western. We hated the racist Kentucky basketball program almost as much as we hated the racist Alabama football program.  We were all big UCLA fans, but the only time in a 10-year stretch that the Bruins didn't win the national title opened the door for UTEP's historic win. Look for the real UTEP coach Don Haskins in a brief scene as a gas station attendant.

2. "Coach Carter" - Samuel L. Jackson is outstanding as a high-school coach who wants more from his players than just wins. It's kinda' preachy at times, but the message being preached resonates to this day.

1. "Hoosiers" - The gold standard against which all basketball movies--past, present, and future--will be compared. It's simply a great movie. 

NOT ON THE LIST: "He Got Game" Can you imagine, Spike Lee going way over the top in a film about he subject he loves? What are the odds? I loved the theme song by Public Enemy and Steven Stills (who sang the original song, "For What It's Worth"...Stop, hey, what's that sound? Everybody look what goin' down...") But once the movie started, ewww!

Also, "Blue Chips." Just too smarmy, too negative, too cliched for me. 

COULD HAVE MADE THE LIST (If it was the Top 13): "Fast Break," "One on One," and, oh yeah, "BASEketball."

Take care.