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Feb
2

Basketball Movies in 2012: The winner of the Oscar (Robertson) for Best Full-Length Documentary is…

Other Dream Team posterCongratulations from BallinEurope go out this morning to Ang Lee, Quentin Tarantino, Christoph Waltz, Daniel Day-Lewis, the Argo team, Jennifer Lawrence (swoon) and the other winners of Academy Awards last night. And now, it’s decision time here.

The annual bestowing of BallinEurope’s Oscar (Robertson) Awards for basketball excellence in 2012 has seen Thunderstruck, The Dream Team and The Harlem Globetrotters take awards in their individual categories, leaving the prize for “Best Full-Length Documentary” still to be awarded — and lemme tell ya, BiE has spent way too much time thinking it over this weekend.

The no-brainer nominee (and well worthy) is the long-awaited The Other Dream Team, which was finally released in 2012 after more than two years of buildup and production. And damn, was it worth the wait.

For those somehow not in the know on this film, The Other Dream Team tells the story of the 1992 Lithuanian men’s basketball team, a squad essentially assembled from scratch, rather like its home nation itself in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse. As with their Team USA counterparts in that fateful year (not to mention the silver-winning Croatia and even the fourth-place “Unified Team”), the scope of Team Lithuania’s story is huge. Unlike The Dream Team’s run to immortality in Barcelona, though, this team’s podium finish carried all the weight of history with more than a touch of good-humored wackiness.

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Sep
1

Movie Review: The Iran Job (or The Fish-Out-of-Water that Saved Shiraz)

Okay, so not even FIBA considers Iran part of The Continent, but BallinEurope today would nevertheless like to pass on a recommendation of a great basketball movie to watch out for. Entitled The Iran Job, the documentary follows U.S. Virgin Islands player Kevin Sheppard, a self-described journeyman with tours in China, Brazil, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Argentina to his credit, as he embarks on a season in the mysterious Middle Eastern nation.

As it turns out, Sheppard’s in Iran for not just any season, but that slate of games set in 2008-09 – significant calendar years for both his native USA and his country of residence. And as it turns out, The Iran Job is no typical American fish-out-of-water basketball story.

Just the word “Iran” is a hot-button issue in the ‘States (and, apparently, its protectorates); knowing the concept behind the film, reading the title alone takes us one step into Sheppard’s world. Upon announcing his professional plans, his mother is scared. His girlfriend is shocked. And it’s all set against a pastiche of George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” taunts and Hillary Clinton’s “we would destroy Iran” demagoguery.

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