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Television can have a hard time keeping our attention. Unless it’s sports. Or a very compelling story.

Luckily, ESPN has managed to package both into the downright awesome documentary series 30 for 30.

We all know the big sports stories of the past 30 years, thanks in part to ESPN, and we probably don’t need to hear them again, but 30 for 30 aims at telling the stories that history rarely remembers. You’ll either be hearing a new story, or relishing in the one you’d been saying “needed to be told” for years now. More often than not, it’s one of those stories that you vaguely remember and come away from the doc with answers to a few questions that’d been lingering for decades.

The result is an advanced course on the nooks and crannies of the sports world from a faculty of sports’ and film-making’s greats. And unlike what an actual course-load would feel like, it’s entertaining, largely because of the personal stake each filmmaker takes in their story. Case in point: Michael Jordan’s fateful attempt at professional baseball is told by the guy who made Bull Durham.

Many of the stories being told have been teetering on the brink of sports history extinction for some time now. Think of the Yugoslavian National Basketball team during the Bosnian War, or the blockbuster-on-paper USFL spiraling into the abyss, or the Reggie Miller vs. The Knicks years. Some aren’t even about sports, but the social phenomenon it spurred, like Ice Cube’s ode to the interrelation between the Raider’s stint in Los Angeles, and the rise of gangster rap.

Although we’ve always known that Al Davis was an O.G.

–N.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Najib Benouar