Hoop Dreams

June 6 1997 3:30 AM

Hoop Dreams

79000_79466_mov_icon
79000_79467_audio_icon

Sound02 - nba.avi or Sound03 - nba.mov; download time, 3.50 minutes at 56K Sound01 - VR-NBA.asf; for sound only

Around the World, produced by David Beinstein for NBA Entertainment.

41000_41942_statue
Advertisement

Come playoff season, the NBA takes no prisoners. Basketball is everywhere, and excess is everything. The players are Brobdingnagians, and their conflicts, aptly epic. They're on your screen and in your face, these icons, chattering relentlessly about success, shoes, hot dogs, shoes, pop, phones, shoes, shoes ... when suddenly, the prattle stops and you get a break. It isn't a break from basketball, and it isn't a permanent break. But for 30 seconds, Around the World gives you the hype without the talk, the intravenous feed, if you will.

41000_41943_tower

A lively guitar and plastic colors animate this Grand Tour, which begins with an overhead shot of the globe, North America in the foreground. A young black boy dribbles a basketball across an improbably bucolic New Jersey toward the Statue of Liberty, Manhattan behind her. Cauliflower clouds scud by and birds take wing. The dribbler pauses at water's edge, then lofts the ball toward Lady Liberty, who reaches for it. The ruddy basketball and the boy's red, white, and blue togs seem to reinforce the message: This is America's game. 'Twas a time when baseball was the national pastime. No longer.

41000_41944_sphx

But the statue misses, and the ball sails over the Atlantic, past a curious Big Ben and the Arc de Triomphe. Clearly, we'd fumbled the point. Basketball isn't America's preserve: Europe loves it too. And it transcends color and gender: The player who grabs the ball, dodging a spry Eiffel Tower, is white and female.

Seeing a plane in the background, you know what's coming. The ball's on the move again. Destination: Egypt, where a young boy lobs it past the pyramids and an inquiring Sphinx. Then onward to China, the next pause on the tour, and the Great Wall, which invites the backboard. And again, there's a shot of the plane, climbing into the sky after unloading ... basketballs? Not likely, given that they're made there now.

41000_41945_hoop

We pull back into space, and the spinning globe morphs into a basketball, the stars around it outlining a player and a hoop. Constellation NBA. "I love this game."

Around the World is an engaging spot, fast-paced and eye-catching. That said, it's worth looking beyond the platitudinous fuzz about basketball being the world's game and the ultimate unifier, to the fact that it's a prime U.S. export. While satellite technology has increased the sport's reach, U.S. domination of its every aspect has increased basketball's appeal among the capitalist underclass, the have-nots who see and crave the trappings. How long before the NBA has franchises from Zurich to Shanghai? Everyone wants a piece of the pie. And the NBA wants you to know that it's sharing.

--Robert Shrum

Robert Shrum is a leading Democratic political consultant.

TODAY IN SLATE

The Slatest

Ben Bradlee Dead at 93

The legendary Washington Post editor presided over the paper’s Watergate coverage.

This Scene From All The President’s Men Captures Ben Bradlee’s Genius

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 5:38 PM Justified Paranoia Citizenfour offers a look into the mind of Edward Snowden.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.