Celtics / Lakers: Best of Enemies
Tuesdays 8.30pm from 16 March on NITV
It was a rivalry that changed the way a nation saw one of its favourite sports. The battle between two huge talents and their teams in the 1980s, Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics and Magic Johnson and the LA Lakers, America’s NBA is at the heart of this three-part documentary, which also looks back at earlier events that shaped the NBA, including the obstacles faced by Black players.
Narrators Donnie Wahlberg and Ice Cube examine the often race-driven coast versus coast rivalry between the two dominant teams, and the important subtext it provided for the game of basketball, the players, and the fans who were watching. Celtics / Lakers: Best of Enemies captures not only the amazing basketball being played on court as this great rivalry developed, but the people and passion who made it all happen.
“What I love about the rivalry is there are so many aspects to it,” says director Jim Podhoretz. “You have legendary figures like Magic and Bird and Bill Russell and Jerry West. You have sublime basketball that is both unselfish and spectacular. And you have epic athletic conflicts. But what I’ve come to cherish in making the film are the personalities and passions of the players involved. The joy and the anguish and all of the other emotions that they express in telling their story are what bring the documentary to life.”
Sunday 21 March at 8.40 pm on NITV
It’s one of the enduringly memorable moments of Olympic history: the fall that tore apart the much-anticipated clash between Zola Budd, a young, barefoot South African and Mary Decker, the American track and field star. There was a lot written about the rivalry that led to the collision in the final of the 3000m at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, but as this multi-layered documentary shows, there’s a lot the public didn’t know too.
The Fall traces the journeys of the two runners to the starting blocks: Budd, a shy teenager who threw herself into running after the death of her much-loved older sister and became a lightning rod for anti-apartheid sentiment, and Decker, an all-American champion carrying the expectations of a nation. With unprecedented access to the pair, and other key figures, the documentary looks at the social and political forces pressing on both girls, and what happened after that day in LA. And in a final twist, the film brings the pair together again in the LA Coliseum. Can they make some kind of peace, more than three decades later?
Tuesday 23 March, 11.30pm on SBS VICELAND
Battles in sport aren’t always about two teams or two great talents. Sometimes, it’s about poles-apart opinions. Sports have historically been organised into two strict categories: male and female. But what about those who don’t fit into that binary division? In Defending Champions, part of the VICE Investigates documentary series, VICE correspondent Gianna Toboni explores the debate over policies for transgender and intersex athletes. Toboni talks to those with passionate opinions on both sides of the debate, including scientist and athlete Joanna Harper, who brings those two passions together with her experience as a transgender person in some of her research; elite cyclist Jillian Beardon, who’s been participating in research before and after her transition, and talks about the effect the changes in her body have had on her times and strength on the bike; Kenyan runner Maximila Imali who, like Caster Semenya, has faced bans due to her elevated testosterone levels; and former elite runner Paula Radcliffe, who explains her objections to intersex women competing in the female divisions of elite sports. Part sporting doco, part investigation, it’s also deeply personal (especially the appalling effect all this has had on Annet Negesa, a former star of the Ugandan national track team). A must-watch.
The full season of VICE Investigates is also streaming at SBS On Demand. Watch Defending Champions now:
From the intense football rivalry of Argentina’s superclasico to less high-profile sports such as the once-a-year appearance of an ancient game in Florence or the seated competition of e-sports, this series dives into rivalries across the world (including AFL in Australia). Episodes also cover an old grudge between two towns that lives on at the lowest levels of minor league baseball and the social, religious and political rivalries that play a part in a clash between top basketball clubs in Lebanon.
The nine-part series Rivals is streaming now at SBS On Demand.
The Good, The Bad, The Hungry
A documentary that shares the story of Takeru Kobayashi, the native of Nagano, Japan, who won the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest (an international event held in New York that draws huge crowds) six consecutive times, and Joey Chestnut, the American who emerged to dethrone the Japanese legend.
The Good, The Bad, The Hungry is streaming now at SBS On Demand.
Five young women go to extraordinary lengths to watch Iran’s World Cup qualifier in a stadium where women have been banned. This funny and highly likeable PG-rated film from director Jafar Panahi includes footage shot in Tehran’s Azadi stadium during the 2006 match between Iran and Bahrain.
Offside is streaming now at SBS On Demand.