[Editor’s Note: We get another great story from Kansas City-based Mac Trigg looking at 30 for 30. Every reader of this site loves this series. You may disagree with his picks, but you surely agree that 30 for 30 is must-see television.]
People love the series, 30 for 30. It brings you into contact with former players, coaches, families and friends. If you love sports, you love this series. It raises the question: what is the top 30 for 30 of all-time?
It is an almost impossible question. Here is my top five list (in no rank order). No doubt people will have different opinions and wonder why such gems as Believeland didn’t make my list. The Comment Section is waiting for you to weigh in.
- I Hate Christian Laetner: Even if younger kids have never really heard of Christian Laetner, you leave this show understanding why some people hate him more than a bad call by a referee in a crucial game. This show tells you the story of Laetner –a good athlete that many people loved to hate as he became the “face” of the successful Duke Blue Devils. You will like learning about this Devil in the Blue Devils. Coach K and Duke continue to be a team that brings strong and differing opinions. You will get a strong appreciation for that in this episode.
- The U: The U is a multi-episode look at the Miami Hurricanes. It gives you a view of both the great Miami teams that dominated college football, but also some of the issues surround college football itself. Illegal Recruiting. Hush money. The U has it all. (Writer’s Note: This 30 for 30 is not appropriate for kids under the age of 10).
- Four Days in October. If you have had the chance to go to Fenway Park, you know it is one of the greatest stadiums in baseball. This 30 for 30 looks at the Curse of the Bambino –the tragic decision by the Red Sox to trade Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. Then, it tells you about how the curse was finally broken during “four days in October.” You don’t have to be a Red Sox fan to enjoy this great 30 for 30 as it brings their amazing run to life.
- Best that Never Was. You will love this deep exploration of Oklahoma Sooner running back Marcus Dupree. He was a standout in Mississippi. He was heavily recruited by big programs like Texas, but ultimately made a last-minute decision for Oklahoma. He would go on to play in USFL and then for a brief time in the NFL. Even though Dupree was very good, injuries and bad decisions kept him from being a Hall of Fame running back. Marcus was a good person, including helping his disabled brother. He may not have been iconic like Jim Brown, but you will like him.
- Pony Excess. This 30 for 30 is about the SMU football team. They were dominant in 1980s with running backs like Craig James and Eric Dickerson. The alumni were very aggressive in getting the best players. They would recruit girlfriends to attend SMU, give money and cars to players and also provide things to their families such as homes and cash. You will not believe it. Finally, the NCAA cracks down on them. The investigation leads to the so-called Death Penalty which effectively killed college football at SMU for years to come. In fact, you can argue it is still dead.
It is hard to pick the “best” 30 for 30. My family likes them all and we watch them whenever we can. I could not rank them from one to five because they have different topics and cover different stories. Can you really compare Lebron James to Tom Brady? They are both great, but do different things in different sports.
I do know that you will like all five of these 30 for 30s. Hopefully, readers will leave some comments about their favorites including some that aren’t on my list. ESPN has an incredible series in 30 for 30.