By : Mike Clark | Posted: 01 Feb 2010
Box Office $1 million
Rated ‘PG’ for brief mild language and incidental smoking.
Remarkable access again distinguishes a basketball documentary. This time, it’s championship high-school team St. Vincent-St. Mary, out of Akron, Ohio, in the early 2000s – whose standout player just happened to be current Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James.
It’s the “incidentally” that adds the flavor: the teammates remain lifelong buds.
They began as a kids unit playing for a Salvation Army team and elected to attend high school together, a remarkably cohesive decision for individuals their age. Later, they survived a switch in coaches when transplanted-from-football Dru Joyce II (his player/son an on-the-court performance pistol despite lack of size) suddenly took over.
Director Kristopher Belman, initially on a film-school assignment, gained team confidence over many years of shooting.
Antecedents here are (obviously) 1994’s landmark Hoop Dreams but also 2005’s underrated The Heart of the Game (girls’ basketball in Seattle).