I just previewed "Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks," which premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. on ESPN and will be shown a number of times after that (you can see the schedule here).
It's a heckuva documentary about the mid-1990s battles between the trash-talking Miller and his Indiana Pacers and the bullying Knicks, led by Patrick Ewing, John Starks and (from the sideline) brash director/Miller antagonist Spike Lee.
Filmmaker Dan Klores is one of the best in the business, and he has put together another show-stopper here. You may remember Klores' equally riveting "Black Magic," which chronicled basketball at America's historically black colleges.
While "Black Magic" resonated with more historical weight, "Winning Time" is just plain fun. If you've forgotten some of Miller's shooting heroics in these multiple playoff series -- as well as Lee's front-row histrionics, Ewing's crucial missed layup and all the rest -- this brings them back in stark detail.
Current Charlotte Bobcats coach Larry Brown has a couple of nice cameos, too -- he was the Pacers' coach at the time. Miller has a good line about how the Pacers always respected Brown but couldn't stand him Brown at times because of his demanding nature. Miller calls Brown "a perfectionist coach in an imperfect game."
I've never been a huge fan of either Miller or the Knicks, but I enjoyed the documentary anyway and highly recommend it for your viewing pleasure after Sunday's Selection Show and its accompanying hysteria.
"Winning Time" is the second really good sports documentary I've seen in the past month, following HBO's Magic/Bird doc called "A Courtship of Rivals" that was very entertaining as well. If you've ever seen another good sports documentary you'd highly recommend -- not a fictional movie, but a true-story-documentary -- post it either in the comments section of this blog or e-mail it to me at email@example.com. I'm always on the lookout for high-quality sports journalism in whatever form it takes.
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