My Personal Top Ten 30 for 30 Documentaries

Since sports have been put on pause, many sports fans have been scrambling looking for any sports to watch. Many networks and YouTube channels have put out classic full games such as March Madness, greatest Super Bowls, and the Cubs finally breaking the curse of Billy Goat with a dramatic game 7 victory over the Indians.

If you are finally reaching that point of where you don’t know how or where to feed your daily sports addiction, look no further. ESPN has made some fantastic sports documentaries called 30 for 30. Many people love a specific 30 for 30 that they have watched them multiple times, and still find themselves amazed at what they have just seen.

I have watched many 30 for 30, so here is my top ten favorite 30 for 30 of all time.

Honorable Mention:

  • Straight Outta LA
  • Catching Hell
  • Celtics-Lakers

10. Mike and the Mad Dog:

Mike and The Mad Dog makes my top 10 because it captures what sports fans are all about. Listening to people talk about your favorite teams whether they have done good or bad, you always are curious about what people more credible than you have to say about your teams. Mike and the Mad Dog truly captured that feeling. It was also a great way to get your frustration on the phone. That is why Mike and the Mad Dog makes my top 10 at number 10

9. Benji:

Ben “Benji” Wilson will always be a “what could have been.” Before he was tragically shocked and killed, he was the number 1 high school basketball player, not only in the city of Chicago but in the country. The director Coodie, did a wonderful job of interviewing people that were close to Benji such as his older brother, Chicago celebrities, and even the person who shot and killed him, to show what Benji meant to them when he was alive and what his legacy means to them now.

8. Bad Boys:

Detroit Pistons in the late ’80s and early 90’s drove everyone in the NBA insane. With players like Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn, both of which had big personalities and never shied away from a fight. But despite all of that, the leadership of Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars led the Detroit Pistons to an NBA Title in 1989 and 1990. This documentary was able to capture all the craziness of what the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons were.

7. Four Days in October:

Granted, ESPN has not done many baseball-themed documentaries, but despite that, Four days in October is a great documentary. No team in professional sports has ever come back from down 3-0 to win a playoff series. That was true until the Boston Red Sox came back from down 3-0 to defeat their bitter rivals the New York Yankees in 2004, all in a four-day span. The documentary shows the perspective from both sides, not just from the fans but the players as well. It was truly a magical moment not just in baseball history, but in sports history.

6. Winning Time:

This is one of the most entertaining 30 for 30 that ESPN has done. Reggie Miller is not only one of the best 3-point shooters of all time, but he is one of the best trash-talkers of all time. The New York Knicks were championship contenders with Patrick Ewing, but Reggie Miller had other plans taking on the Knicks in the playoffs. This documentary is entertaining and funny with terrific interviews from Reggie Miller, John Starks, and Spike Lee.

5. Survive and Advance:

Who didn’t cry while watching this? This 30 for 30 brought out many emotions like happy, sad, along with laughter and many tears. Jim Valvano and the 1983 NC State basketball team had their backs against the wall going into the ACC tournament. Not only did they win to get into the big dance, but they actually won the whole thing. Jimmy V and the Wolfpack were a team of destiny and everybody fell in love with the Cinderella team. Unfortunately, Jimmy V was diagnosed with cancer and eventually passed away, but it inspired one of the greatest speeches ever given, and it created the Jimmy V Foundation which helps with funding cancer research. It is truly one of the most emotional 30 for 30 of all time.

4. Catholics Vs. Convicts:

Before the horrific poisoning of the Toomer’s Corner Trees in Auburn, there was no materialistic thing that captured a rivalry like the Catholics vs. Convicts T-shirt for the Notre Dame-Miami rivalry in the ’80s. That T-shirt was the apex of this rivalry and ramped up the hatred even more than it was. The 1988 ND-Miami game was the game of the decade and the T-Shirt took it to a whole other level. Both teams did a great job cooperating with the documentary and giving the perspective of the rivalry from both sides.

3. The Fab Five:

Jimmy King put the Fab Five and what they meant to college basketball in the perfect way. “We have never seen anything like the Fab Five before and we haven’t seen anything like it since.” The Fab Five were the first-ever team to start 5 freshmen at the same time. Not many people would notice if they didn’t win but they did. In the 2 years they were together they made it to the national championship game in both years. Even though they didn’t win it in either year, they captured an entire nation. The trends the team started such as baggy shorts and black socks had the entire nation in awe. They created fans and enemies but there is no denying what kind of impact they had on College Basketball.

2. The ’85 Bears:

The 1985 Bears were arguably one of the greatest teams ever assembled. Not only were they dominant and popular on the field but they were popular off the field. The Bears had great personalities such as Jim McMahon, William “The Fridge” Perry, Otis Wilson, Dan Hampton, and Steve McMichael. The Bears dominated the 1985 season finishing with a 15-1 record and capped off the season with a dominating Super Bowl victory. This documentary captures all the different personalities that the team had and the way they all meshed together to create one of the greatest teams of all time.

1. Fantastic Lies:

This is my favorite documentary for a couple of different reasons. The first reason is the storytelling of the documentary. The way the writers write this story of the Duke Lacrosse rape case is able to capture what the players had to go through, how to media crucified the lacrosse team because of how the District Attorney went on a media tour telling everyone that they were guilty, but yet, there was no evidence presented. This documentary showed off how people can be manipulated to believe one thing by propaganda. That leads me to my second point. The media is a very powerful tool that people still listen to and now with social media it is even more heightened where people will believe anything without fact-checking and having no evidence to support those claims. This documentary is a reality check that reckless accusations can affect so many people’s lives and that we as people need to be careful what we say on social media. The filmmakers did an amazing job showing how this case progressed and the effect it had on everyone that was involved.

Thank you for everyone who took the time to read my top 10. Again, this is my personal top 10 favorites. I encourage people to comment their top 10, what people agree/disagree with. I hope everyone stays safe and enjoys all the 30 for 30 documentaries I have mentioned.

Thank you!

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