Movie Review: Gunnin' For That #1 Spot

Studio: Oscilloscope Laboratories

Release Date: June 27, 2008

In the classic 1994 documentary, Hoop Dreams, we had the privilege of following two young basketball

hopefuls throughout their adolescence. Basketball was at the forefront of their

lives, as well as the motivation for the film and its characters, but seeing

them off the basketball court was the most compelling part.

In Gunnin’ For That #1

Spot we are also taken inside the lives of kids with big basketball dreams,

as Adam Yauch (a.k.a. MCA of the Beastie Boys) gives us an inside look at

2006’s inaugural Elite 24 basketball game.

Gunnin’ For That #1

Spot certainly does have traces of Hoop

Dreams in it, but more than anything it is its own movie. The biggest

difference is that it profiles eight of the top high school players in the

country, all of whom have gone on to become household names or are well on

their way.

The players chosen to be profiled were not filmed until

after their selection to the Elite 24 game, therefore we are assured of star

power. The Elite 24 All-Star Game brings the 24 best high school players,

regardless of grade to New York City for a

showcase game to be played at legendary Rucker

Park in Harlem.

Michael Beasley, Kevin Love, Jerryd Bayless, Donte Green and

Kyle Singler are a few of the players we get to know, who have since burst onto

the college basketball scene, and soon to the NBA for four of the five

mentioned, as Beasley, Love and Bayless look to be sure fire lottery picks in

this week’s NBA draft.

The highlight of the movie is in the player profiles and

seeing the different walks of life that these highly touted talents come from. We

see Kevin Love, whose father was an NBA player and the comfortable life that he

has grown up in, or Jerryd Bayless who attends yoga classes as part of his

training, and then Kyle Singler who has an extremely supportive family that has

been there for him every step of the way. 

At the same time we also witness the lives and struggles of guys

like Donte Green, who was raised in Baltimore by his grandparents after his

mother died when he was young, or Michael Beasley who was continually getting

in trouble at a young age, or Lance Stephenson, Elite 24’s youngest player, who

is walking through the streets of Coney Island as everyone puts their hopes on

his shoulders.

They are superstar players who exist seamlessly when on the

court together at Rucker Park, or volunteering in New York City as part of

their Elite 24 selection, but their backgrounds are drastically different.

After each of the eight players is profiled, discussed and

analyzed by various scouts, trainers and coaches, the climax of the movie is

the actual game played at Rucker

Park. With the unique camera angles and creative

editing, the highlights are presented in manner that really hasn’t been seen

before, and grasps your attention the entire time. Whether it is a Michael Beasley dunk or a

Kevin Love full court chest pass, the numerous angles and intermittent rewind

and slow motion bring you inside each play.

Throw in a strong soundtrack – you knew the co-founder of

the Beastie Boys wasn’t going to come weak on the music – and Bobbito Garcia on

the microphone with some hilarious lines – “Mike Beasley, I love your game but

your sneakers are foolish” – and you are left with pure entertainment.

As entertaining as the basketball footage is, the strongest

point of Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot, as

I’ve mentioned throughout, is getting to know these players. We see them at a

time when they are between 15 and 17 years old; extremely talented and

extremely vulnerable. More than anything we are reminded that they are real

people, children at that, dealing with distractions and uncertainties.

Two thumbs up to Adam Yauch (MCA) for successfully adding a

fresh and creative twist to the high school basketball documentary. The

combination of personal content, highlights, music and innovation make sure

there’s a little something for everyone.