Only something this amazing could take our attention away from NC State’s second consecutive NCAA Tournament bid.
ESPN at 9pm tonight.
The Los Angeles Times reviewed Survive & Advance here.
“Survive and Advance,” which premieres Sunday on ESPN as part of its excellent “30 for 30″ series of sports documentaries, is a sweet and moving depiction of the sweet and moving story of the 1983 North Carolina State men’s basketball team, the Wolfpack, and its colorful coach, Jim Valvano. You will need a handkerchief or two to get through it, unless you are some sort of soulless, inhuman monster.
Directed by Jonathan Hock (“Unguarded”), it is a tale of great deeds, inspiring speeches, comical sound bites and big, long hugs in what was a legendary time for college basketball — the days when Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing were still in school and players tended to stick around for three or even four years of play rather than taking off early for the pros: “The games were better,” says University of North Carolina Coach Roy Williams. “The players were better.”
Though not expected to get anywhere near the Final Four, that year’s team made defying expectations a habit, with a knack for coming from behind in the last minutes, even seconds of a game, which earned them nicknames the Team of Destiny and the Cardiac Pack. As pictured here, they were fueled by good spirits, affectionate teamwork and a coach who was not afraid of a risky move or the word “love.”
Valvano, who died in 1993, less than a year after being diagnosed with bone cancer, was a voluble Italian out of the Northeast, whose cheery brashness did not at first sit well with his Southern rivals. He could seem as much comic as coach: “For the first time in 16 years we had a bed check,” he said on the eve of the Final Four adventure that would pit his team against the dunking machine that was the University of Houston Cougars, “and I want everyone to know, all the beds were there.” And later: “My mother … she took Houston and gave eight points. I’m telling you, very disappointing.”
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