Short 30 for 30 slam dunk that gets the faith angle just right

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You have to be a pretty intense hoops fan to remember many of the details of the career of Shawn Bradley.

Other than, of course, you know what.

Take a look at the YouTube at the top of this post some of the details will come back to you. Or even click here for a short video dedicated to one of the most famous dunks — the Tracy McGrady classic — in which the 7-foot-6 Bradley was, as the saying goes in pro basketball, “posterized.” That’s the term for the man caught underneath the basic when a high-flying ace goes in for a picture-perfect slam.

“In your face” is the kind way to express the results.

However, there is much more to Bradley, the man, than posters. The purpose of this post is to encourage GetReligion readers, even those who don’t care about sports, to CLICK THERE and spend the mere 12 minutes it takes to watch an amazing little ESPN film called “Posterized,” which is a fantastic example of a piece of news-feature material that gets the religion angle of a story just right. Did I mention that it’s really short?

As hoops scribe David Astramskas noted, in an online piece about this short film from the 30 for 30 branch of the ESPN kingdom:

If you search “Shawn Bradley” on YouTube, the majority of the results will be videos of people dunking on him or trying to fight the 7’6 center that was picked in between the much loved Chris Webber and Penny Hardaway during the 93 draft. Now, I don’t mind those videos dominating the video results, but I do mind hearing people that have never watched him play in the 90?s say he was a “horrible player” or just some useless big man — which could be said about a long list of big men in the past 14 years that were lottery picks and sometimes #1 picks.

Keep reading for the faith angle.

Thankfully I found another person who is willing to defend the center that wasn’t afraid of defending the basket and getting posterized more than any other player in the history of the game. His name is Andrew Jenks and he’s the director of the new ESPN 30 for 30 short: Posterized. Posterized is about the perceptions people have of Shawn Bradley and things that people don’t know about Bradley and his values that make him a success in life now and even when he was ending up on the bottom half of posters night after night.

Now, the “values” word is, of course, a reference to the fact that Bradley was and is a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

That’s part of the posterized image, of course, with the otherworldly tall, always thin white Mormon guy being humiliated by super-cool NBA stars, most of them black, who were so much more gifted and athletic than the victim in all of these hoops mini-dramas. Of course, the video clips rarely show Bradley doing what he always tried to do, which was defend the rim. He won more of these battles than he lost.

Yet he never reached his potential, you see. He never became a superstar.

That’s where the religion angle of this documentary is so, so good. It simply demonstrates the ways in which Bradley was dedicated to basketball, but way more dedicated — at each and every stage of his career — to his faith and to his family. In other words, Bradley is reaching his potential NOW as an activist on behalf of the poor and, especially, angry, hurting kids who are struggling to overcome brutal and heartbreaking twists in their young lives.

The film doesn’t preach. This is an ESPN product, after all. It just explains the role that hoops played in this man’s life and why it’s not the part of life that matters the most to him. Get a life? Bradley did.

Make sure you hang on for some of the hilarious quotes and memories at the end of the piece.

Congratulations to the always excellent 30 for 30 team. This is a small gem.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.


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