30 For 30 is one of the best things ESPN has ever done. Incredible content is released under the banner of the critically-acclaimed series each year, and we’ve been jonesing for some new films after this summer’s Soccer Series concluded. Finally, we have our wish – the newest series of 30 For 30 will kick off on Tuesday, October 7th, and some of the featured films look incredible.
October 7th: Playing for the Mob. This film is directed by Joe Lavine and Cayman Grant, and focuses on the fixed Boston College basketball games in the late-1970s. It will tell the story of Henry Hill (yes, the Henry Hill from Goodfellas) and reveal details of the point-shaving scandal for the first time ever. Interviews with Hill, the players, and investigators involved will be included. ESPN has already released a clip, which you can view on their website.
October 14th: The Day The Series Stopped. Ryan Fleck directs this film about the Bay Area earthquake that took place just before Game 3 of the 1989 World Series between the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants. Fleck will feature archival footage along with untold stories from players, officials, and citizens, and will also look at the science behind what happened during the earthquake.
October 21st: When The Garden Was Eden. Michael Rapaport is the director of this 30 For 30, which remembers the golden days of the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in the 1970s, and is based on the book by the same name by Harvey Araton.
October 28th: Brian and The Boz. Thaddeus D. Matula directs this one, which will explore Brian Bosworth’s success at the college level under Barry Switzer, and his epic flame out in the NFL.
November 4th: Brothers in Exile. MLB Productions is the producer of this film, and Mario Diaz is the director. It will look at the lives of Livan and Orlando Hernandez, the Cuban defector brothers who made it to America and succeeded in the MLB ranks against all odds.
November 11th: Rand University. Marquis Daisy will dive into the life of Randy Moss, exploring where he came from (Rand, West Virginia) and what he overcame to become an NFL superstar.
December 13th: The U Part 2. Billy Corben is back with a sequel to The U, and will continue the story he started, following Miami football through the 1990s and the Butch Davis era. This is the documentary that will air in the coveted post-Heisman slot, so make sure to set your DVR for an extra hour.
The only one of these documentaries I’m not that excited about is When The Garden Was Eden, because I’m not much of an NBA fan and really have no desire to see the Knicks of 30-plus years ago get romanticized. The U Part 2 is obviously the highlight of the bunch, and ESPN couldn’t have picked a better 30 For 30 to air after the Heisman ceremony. I think the two baseball documentaries also have potential to be fantastic, and there is also plenty of trainwreck potential with the Bosworth film. I’m also very optimistic about the first film in the series about the BC point-shaving scandal – it’s not often where you see someone like Henry Hill as a major player in a 30 For 30 special.
There is also going to be a 30 For 30 short premiering after Playing for the Mob, entitled “The Great Trade Robbery.” It’s a first person account by Jimmy Johnson that focuses on the Herschel Walker trade between the Cowboys and the Vikings. Maybe it would have made a little more sense to push that short back three weeks to air the day after the Redskins-Cowboys Monday Night Football game (immediately following the Bosworth documentary), but that’s just nitpicking.
These are going to be great. ESPN doesn’t let viewers down with 30 For 30 films, and I doubt they will here.