Category: movies

Jimmy Chitwood by Jason Concepcion

I shamelessly ripped this from Grantland.com, but this description of Jimmy Chitwood is epic.  Sadly, it is contained in a larger article ranking the top ten fictional basketball players of all time, and the Hickory High icon ranks only tenth.  This is simply high treason to the game of basketball.

Jimmy Chitwood. The name itself evokes the susurrus of endless fields of golden Indiana corn swaying gently in the breeze of God’s own breath, with the sun — ripe and red — setting on another bountiful Midwestern day. “Jimmy Chitwood,” whispers the stalks as evening gathers in their lengthening shadows, merging with those of the silos and barns.

All the hours here in the palm of Eden’s hand, from dawn to the deepening dim, are marked by a couplet of sounds that, hand-in-hand, beat out the metronomic and immortal pulse of the land.

Bounce. Swish. Bounce. Swish. Bounce. Swish. Bounce. Swish.

It is the Chitwood, and the Chitwood is the land.

Men, strong men, who fought in places far afield and returned to plow the land and whose pride is as undilutable as the atom, grow silent when the Chitwood passes by.

Women, strong women, who sustained the hearths and stood sentinel at every resting place from crib to coffin, beam with silent pride that among them is one who nursed this child, this man, this Chitwood.

Into this place came Norman Dale, the worst, most boring-est, play-the-right-way son-of-a-bitch garbage coach in the entire state of Indiana. “I want to see four passes before every shot,” says the worst coach ever, whose offense is so tedious that people who spend every minute of their empty lives watching corn inch ever skyward are mortally offended by its pure shittiness, and resolve to drive Norman Dale from his post and their town.

But it is the Chitwood, his hair swept back with the motor oil from a thousand broken-down tractors, who stays their hands, and whose words strike with the force of thunder above the eaves when he says, “Coach stays, I play. He goes, I go.” The men and the women of the town murmured their discontent but could do no more. The Chitwood had spoken and his words were as timeless and true as Orion’s great belt.

And how did Norman Dale, the worst fucking coach who ever walked the face of God’s earth, show his gratitude to the Chitwood, whose bounce-swish-bounce-swish carried the team, Norman Dale’s team, against all who opposed them and whose words restrained the townsfolk from chasing the coach through the night at the points of their farm implements? By trying to give the last shot of the state championship, the sacred game winner, to Buddy Long. Who the fuck is Buddy Long?

Top Ten Basketball Movies: #1

We are only a few days away from the start of our Basketball season! And to help kick things off I will be counting down the top 10 basketball movies over the next 10 days. This list is solely my opinion and I respect the fact that other fans of these movies may have a different order. Nevertheless these are still great movies about Basketball!

#1: Hoosiers (1986)20121028-113304.jpg

This is one of the top sports movies of all time and the basketball movie that wrote the book on how all other basketball movies would be made. Hoosiers is a cinematic classic and a must have for a sports fan’s collection. No other basketball movie has had as big of an impact as Hoosiers has.

Hoosiers is the story of Coach Norman Dale (played by Gene Hackman) as he becomes the new basketball coach in the small town of Hickory, Indiana. Coach Dale’s checkered past has led him to this rural town and he isn’t accepted very easily. The towns best player, Jimmy Chitwood (played by Maris Valainis who was the only player/actor on the Hickory team not to play high school basketball. He did play college golf at Purdue his freshman year.) has decided he doesn’t want to play basketball this year. With such a small town Jimmy’s absences is greatly noticed and Coach Dale’s team struggles.

“I would hope you would support who we are. Not, who we are not. These six individuals have made a choice to work, a choice to sacrifice, to put themselves on the line 23 nights for the next 4 months, to represent you, this high school. That kind of commitment and effort deserves and demands your respect. This is your team.”
– Coach Norman Dale

The town has also become frustrated with his playing style, as he teaches a slower defensive game and a more patient and disciplined four pass offense.

“I’ve seen you guys can shoot but there’s more to the game than shooting. There’s fundamentals and defense…My practices aren’t designed for your enjoyment.”
– Coach Norman Dale

Then to make matters worse, Coach Dale enlists the help of the towns drunk, Wilbur “Shooter” Flatch (played by Dennis Hopper who was nominated for an Academy Award for this role), because of his love and knowledge for the game of basketball. As the towns frustration reaches a new high they come together to vote on Coach Dale’s future but the meeting comes to a streaking halt when Jimmy Chitwood asks to speak. He says he has decided to play basketball this year but only for Coach Dale.

“I play, coach stays. He goes, I go.”
– Jimmy Chitwood

This movie may seem dated to a younger audience but it’s characters and story are timeless. A true cinema classic worthy of our number 1 billing and should be in the movie collection of every coach, player, and fan of the great game that is Basketball.

“If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don’t care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we’re gonna be winners.”
– Coach Norman Dale

Hoosiers Trailer

Top Ten Basketball Movies:
#1 Hoosiers
#2 He Got Game
#3 White Men Can’t Jump
#4 Space Jam
#5 Coach Carter
#6 Love & Basketball
#7 Blue Chips
#8 Finding Forrester
#9 The Air Up There.
#10 Glory Road

Honorable Mention (no particular order)
Like Mike
The 6th Man
Above The Rim
Semi-Pro
Believe in Me
AirBud

There are also tons of great basketball documentaries out there! Maybe a post for another time…

Top Ten Basketball Movies: #2

We are only a few days away from the start of our Basketball season! And to help kick things off I will be counting down the top 10 basketball movies over the next 10 days. This list is solely my opinion and I respect the fact that other fans of these movies may have a different order. Nevertheless these are still great movies about Basketball!

#2: He Got Game (1998)20121027-140658.jpg

Jesus. Thank you Jesus. Thank you Jesus for Jesus Shuttlesworth. Coming in at number 2 on the FBGM top ten basketball movies is He Got Game. A Spike Lee joint that really captures a father’s love for his son and his love for the game of basketball. If you’ve ever played a game of one on one with your dad or son then you can relate to this movie.

Jake Shuttlesworth (played by Denzel Waahington) is the father of the number 1 high school basketball prospect in the country, Jesus Shuttlesworth (played by NBA veteran Ray Allen). But Jake hasn’t seen his son in years because he has been incarcerated for murder. Until Jake is presented with an offer by the Governor of New York and the prison Warden that he can’t refuse. They ask him to try to convince his son, in one week, to attend Big State College, the alma mater of the Governor. If he succeeds they will try to shorten his sentence. The rest of the movie follows Jesus’ recruiting process and Jakes attempt to fit back into society and into his son’s life.

The combination of NBA All-Star Ray Allen and Academy Award winner Denzel Washington surprisingly works on screen. Denzel carries most of the movie but the scenes with Ray Allen acting are just as believable. There’s no question that Ray Allen can play basketball but Denzel’s game is the true surprise. His form on his shot is a bit unconventional but his handles are smooth like a veteran ball player. The epic one on one game between the two Stars really feels like an old school street pick up game. Overall this movie is a wonderful basketball film with some good life lessons about living in the spotlight and taking care of your family.

Look for cameos by:
Rick Fox
Dean Smith
Lute Olson
John Chaney
John Thompson
Roy Williams
Nolan Richardson
George Carl
Rick Pitino
Jim Boeheim
Dick Vitale
Bill Walton
Shaquille O’Neal
Reggie Miller
Charles Barkley
Scottie Pippen
Michael Jordan

He Got Game Trailer

Top Ten Basketball Movies: #3

We are only a few days away from the start of our Basketball season! And to help kick things off I will be counting down the top 10 basketball movies over the next 10 days. This list is solely my opinion and I respect the fact that other fans of these movies may have a different order. Nevertheless these are still great movies about Basketball!

#3: White Men Can’t Jump20121026-163112.jpg

If you’ve ever played a pick up basketball game at the park then you’ve met some strange people. Some that can play, some that can’t and others that know how to play you.

White Men Can’t Jump is the story of former college basketball star Billy Hoyle (played by Woody Harrelson) who makes a living hustling streetballers who assume he can’t play because he is white. He uses their assumptions of him against them, normally targeting black players eager to prove a point. Billy then meets Sidney Deane (played by Wesley Snipes) who falls for this trick not once but twice. But instead of remaining bitter in defeat Sidney recognizes how Billy’s trick works. So the two of them decide to play together and hustle other players in 2 on 2 games. It takes awhile for the two players to trust one another and they end up double crossing each other. Until finally they make it work and end up as friends.

“Sometimes when you win, you really lose. And sometimes when you lose, you really win. And sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie and sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose. Winning or losing is all one organic globule, from which one extracts what one needs.” – Billy’s girlfriend Gloria

This movie is an all time sports classic. The characters, dialog and basketball are each phenomenal and you’ll be quoting this movie for years. The basketball is well played as Snipes and Harrelson went through extensive training to prepare for their roles. According to their basketball instructors, Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson reached the skill level to be able to start for an NCAA Division III team.

Overall it’s a fantastic sports movie and a classic pick up basketball flick.
White Men Can’t Jump Trailer

Side Note: Charlie Sheen was the first choice for the role of Billy Hoyle. WINNING

Top Ten Basketball Movies: #4

We are only a few days away from the start of our Basketball season! And to help kick things off I will be counting down the top 10 basketball movies over the next 10 days. This list is solely my opinion and I respect the fact that other fans of these movies may have a different order. Nevertheless these are still great movies about Basketball!

#4: Space Jam (1996)20121025-111633.jpg

Whether you remember this movie as a kid or you took your kids to see this movie I think it’s safe to say most people have seen this movie. It’s truly a remarkable movie in terms of how it was created, who was involved and when it was made.

Space Jam is the story of a rag tag group of aliens that have come to Earth to enslave the actual Looney Tunes. Bugs Bunny recognizes their lack of size and IQ and challenges them to a basketball game to decide their fate. These aliens wise up and start stealing powers from real NBA players like Shawn Bradley, Muggsy Bogues, Larry Johnson, Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley. After seeing the new and improved aliens (or MonStars) Bugs Bunny goes on a mission to find his own basketball help. During this period of time Michael Jordan had retired from the game of basketball and is pursuing a career in baseball to honor his passed Father. With the best basketball player to ever play the game playing baseball and having slipped under the radar of the MonStars, Bugs Bunny saw his chance. During a golf game with Larry Bird and Bill Murray, Michael Jordan is captured by Bugs Bunny and pulled into Looney Tune land. Jordan then is convinced to lace up the sneakers again and to play for the Looney Tunes (Tune Squad).

This movie holds a special place in my heart because I remember watching it as a kid. There is a timeless quality to this movie and it still holds up today. Not many people got to see Jordan play or even remember what the Jordan brand represents. I’d like to think of this movie as a fun way to share with my kids the story of the best basketball player that ever played.

But there are many other elements to this movie to admire. The technical aspect of combining live actors with computer animation and cartoons was a huge achievement back in 1996, and the end result is a seamless blend. It was also quite an accomplishment by the filmmakers to even get Michael Jordan to do this. Jordan was known worldwide for his basketball play but also his constant presence in the media, mostly in commercials. Jordan wasn’t in a lot of movies back then and he certainly wasn’t the main character in those movies. However he wasn’t just the main character in Space Jam, he was primarily the only live action actor. The majority of his scenes were on a green screen passing to imaginary cartoons! This movie also reaches classic status in the category of music. A lot of songs became popular with and because of the movie, like R Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly. The Space Jam Soundtrack is full of classic basketball tracks. And I’d be remiss if I actually never talked about the basketball from the movie. The main basketball game is entertaining while unbelievable since dealing with cartoon characters. But one of the most rewarding basketball elements was watching the NBA pros who lost their powers attempt to play and fit in with society. Seeing Charles Barkley get packed by a girl never gets old. Sorry Chuck.

Overall this movie holds a special place in my heart and I have fond memories associated with the film as I’m sure most of you do. There is a little bit of everything in this movie and its re-watch value is incredibly high with all the interesting cartoon characters and cameos throughout the movie. And who doesn’t love watching Bill Murray play basketball?
Fan Made Space Jam Trailer

Top Ten Basketball Movies: #5

We are only a few days away from the start of our Basketball season! And to help kick things off I will be counting down the top 10 basketball movies over the next 10 days. This list is solely my opinion and I respect the fact that other fans of these movies may have a different order. Nevertheless these are still great movies about Basketball!

#5: Coach Carter (2005)20121024-112602.jpg

I remember seeing this movie in high school with some of my teammates and we were blown away at how accurate this movie portrayed today’s high school basketball lifestyle and the work that takes place behind the curtain to get better. This is one of my favorite movies to watch before the start of each basketball season.

Coach Carter is the true story of a former star basketball player from Richmond High School in Richmond, Virginia who returns to his alma mater to become the new head coach. Upon returning to Richmond High, Coach Carter (played by Samuel L. Jackson) finds the program in bad shape and far worse from when he was there. The players are a bunch of “wanna-be” ballers that do a lot of talking and showboating but have very little discipline. From the beginning he challenges them to give and earn respect from each other and with him. He also makes all the players sign a contract saying that they must maintain a 2.3 GPA to play. Coach Carter’s goal in doing all of this isn’t just to straighten up a basketball program but to teach these kids that if they apply themselves they can have a life away from the streets.

Coach Carter has quickly become a classic amongst basketball fans because of how respectable the filmmakers were to the game and how it was shot. Coach Carter combines everyday life and basketball together to teach his players about meaningful life lessons. Carter even named his defenses after some of his ex girlfriends, each with different and distinct personalities. Director Thomas Carter (just a coincidence) did a very good job of casting capable young actors that passed the tests of coming from the streets and playing basketball. One such actor has already appeared on this blog. Kenyon Stone is played by Rob Brown who was the lead in movie #8 Finding Forrester. Stone is one of the main characters with his own storyline and a key contributor on the court. Director Carter learned from previous basketball movies that the only way to film basketball and have it look believable is to actually film a game as it is played. The responses by players/actors are more natural and their stress and fatigue displayed would be true to life. Overall this is more then a successful basketball movie but one of the best sports movies to come out in the last ten years. Coach Carter Trailer

Top Ten Basketball Movies: #6

We are only a few days away from the start of our Basketball season! And to help kick things off I will be counting down the top 10 basketball movies over the next 10 days. This list is solely my opinion and I respect the fact that other fans of these movies may have a different order. Nevertheless these are still great movies about Basketball!

#6: Love & Basketball (2000)20121023-185208.jpg

Love & Basketball is the story of a young couple that struggles with their individual careers in basketball and their up and down romance. Quincy McCall (played by Omar Epps) and Monica Wright (played by Sanaa Lathan) grew up next to each other since they were 11 years old and have always had a bond to one another by way of basketball. Eventually they begin to date after High School while they both attended and play for the University of Southern California. During this time life, family and careers strain their relationship to the point of them breaking up. After each of them reaches the pros they are given one more chance to make their relationship work.

This is a very well made movie with some great characters that really make you care about their outcomes. The romantic elements aren’t super sappy for the macho men out there but the movie is sensitive enough for the Mrs. to enjoy. Basketball really is the center point and driving force in this movie and it’s evident in how the director uses the games and practices to further the story. The basketball elements in the movie were very well done and believable even by the most critical of fans. Overall it’s a very solid movie and a good date night basketball movie that even the ladies will watch.
Love & Basketball Trailer