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Get your basketball fix at the library

From Larry Bird to the Fab Five, library offers books and movies


For basketball fans, the month of March is pure magic. Over the course of three weeks, 64 of the best college teams in the nation compete, hoping to put together a string of six more victories to earn the title of national champion.

But if your hankering for hoops still isn’t satisfied, and you can’t get enough of hardwood heroics and history, check out the following basketball-related documentaries, all available at the West Linn Public Library:

“Magic and Bird: A Courtship of Rivals”

At first glance, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird would seem to have nothing in common: One grew up in urban Michigan, the other in tiny French Lick, Ind. They developed unique playing styles, spent their professional careers on opposite sides of the country, and Magic’s larger-than-life personality and natural showmanship was a stark contrast to Bird’s painful shyness and reserve. Yet from their legendary first meeting in the 1979 NCAA finals, their careers and lives have been inextricably linked.

This documentary traces their shared history, their battles for NBA supremacy in the 1980s and the development of their unexpected friendship.

“Guru of Go”

It seemed like a fairytale. Coach Paul Westhead had developed a style of play (dubbed “The System”) that focused on constant offense, maximum speed and unflagging intensity. Few teams, however, were willing (or able) to put it into practice and Westhead eventually found himself persona non grata in the NBA and coaching at Loyola Marymount University.

In 1987, Westhead welcomed two USC transfers (Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble) who were able to execute “The System” to near perfection. During three seasons, Westhead, Gathers and Kimble transformed LMU into an NCAA powerhouse and a national championship seemed close. But triumph turned to tragedy with Gathers’ shocking on-court death in March 1990. This is a thrilling, touching and ultimately inspiring film.

“Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks”

We all know “that guy.” Smart, articulate, talented, confident. And annoying as heck.

Ask any New York Knick fan, and they’ll tell you that former Indiana Pacers superstar Reggie Miller is “that guy.”

In the 1990s, when the Knicks and Pacers frequently battled for NBA Eastern Conference supremacy, Miller seemed to have a special knack (and affinity) for infuriating the New York fan base.

This film combines current interviews and historic footage into a wonderfully entertaining look back at Miller’s history of being a singular pain in New York’s collective behind.

“The Fab Five”

Yes, they popularized baggy shorts and black socks, and they embraced hip-hop culture, but the impact of the 1991 Michigan Wolverine freshmen recruits transcends simple fashion or style. They were, arguably, the first college basketball players to become stars in their own right, of more interest as individuals than as part of a particular team or program. For better or for worse, they brought the NBA superstar mentality to the college game.

This documentary is a comprehensive and enjoyable examination of the Fab Five’s accomplishments, controversies and impact.

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