October 19, 2010

Once Brothers: ESPN screened this great documentary about the rise of the Yugoslavian basketball team in the late 80s, and the breakdown of relationships within the team, in particular Vlade Divac and Drazen Petrovic, as the country disintegrated in the '90s (via MetaFilter).

posted by rcade to basketball at 10:55 AM - 5 comments

I saw this when it aired, and I'd highly recommend it.

posted by trox at 10:12 AM on October 19

I'll definitely watch it. The blurb reminds me of Scott Simon's great novel Pretty Birds, whose main character is a high school basketball player in Sarajevo. A Bosniak, her best friend and teammate is a Serb. There's an absolutely great scene at what turns out to be their last practice, before war breaks out:

There was an awkward moment at that Saturday's practice; at the time, it seemed only that. Emina Sefic, the team's center, and Danica Tomic, a guard, had fallen to the floor in a scramble for the basketball. The girls heard squeaks, shouts, and swearing of no particular affront among athletes-- "Bitch!" "Idiot!" "Whore!" Then they heard Emina snarl, "Greasy Serb slut!" Danica's face reddened like an electric coil. She barked back, "Rag-head whore!" Irena could remember other times when the girls would shout such insults at each other for laughs. But when Coach Dino sensed that the two girls seemed more intent on slapping each other than on grabbing the basketball, he lowered his shoulders into the snarl of arms and legs, shoving them aside with his tattoed arms.

"You are teammates, dammit," he hollered for all in the gym to hear. "You are teammates!"

Conversation in the locker room was muted and brittle. No one knew what to say; no one wanted to say the wrong thing. Even playful conversation could turn a dangerous corner...

Irena came to the mirror at the same time as Amela Divacs, the team's other forward. They did not know what to say, but they did not swerve away from each other. Amela smiled slightly as she combed through her long, pale, damp hair, and finally said, "They are both stupid sows."

"I didn't know which to root for," said Irena, whose short chestnut hair had already dried in place.

"Danica is sinking her free throws," said Amela, who smiled and turned back to her locker before she caught herself. "But I wouldn't, you know, choose her for any other reason."

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:47 AM on October 19

This was one was excellent - one of my favorite 30 for 30 movies so far. In partcicular, I'd also recommend the ones on Reggie Miller, OJ, and the Colts band. I was in Croatia this summer and talked with several natives, and I've talked with a Serbian friend since, and it's always interesting to get more perspectives on such a complex (and at times horrifying) situation.

posted by sbacharach at 10:56 AM on October 19

pretty sweet.

posted by mayerkyl at 02:20 PM on October 19

Given the emotional intensity of the political split I find it hard to believe that no matter how close the players may have been beforehand they could remain so. Remember, the UN set up a special tribunal just to deal with the many cases of war crimes that were committed--this was a worse conflict, IMO, than say Iran-Iraq in the '80s or East Timor-Indonesia more recently.

posted by billsaysthis at 02:20 PM on October 19

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