Review: Lindsey Vonn, The Dream Team, Chasing Tyson

Review: Lindsey Vonn, The Dream Team, Chasing Tyson

Since there are no live sports right now I’m taking the opportunity to catch up on some of the really great sports documentaries available. If you have HBO, ESPN+, or NBA TV you already have access to all of these.

“Lindsey Vonn – The Final Season” (2019) – HBO

Lindsey Vonn is a world class downhill speed skier who captured the public’s attention with her aggressive style in an incredibly high stakes sport. I remember watching her compete in the Winter Olympics with great interest as NBC prominently displayed her in their event coverage. How many world records she could break in a European dominated sport was a question everyone asked. The fact she attempted these feats ripping down a mountain at nearly 80 miles per hour made for good drama.

This particular documentary follows her last season as she battles through age, physical degradation, and emotional fatigue. Downhill skiing is famously brutal on the body’s joints, especially the knees. When things go wrong they go wrong fast, and crashes are on par with motorcycle accidents. They broach this endless wear and tear on Lindsey’s body in the film and the consequences of it over time. They also display her resolve to work through the setbacks and endless pain. To operate at that level takes an elevated mental toughness and singular focus most of us don’t possess and probably can’t be taught, although we can try to develop what we can.

At times I felt like those around her didn’t have her best interests at heart. At times she’s clearly spent but she’s told by others around her to continue, that she’s tough, that she can do it, that she should continue doing it. Maybe because they have a vested interest in her not retiring, but she clearly wants out. You can see her disappointment well up when she accepts that she won’t set the world records she expected to set, but she’s done getting surgeries and beating her body up. There’s nothing left to give and no cure for an excess of birthdays.

The Dream Team (2012): NBA TV

The 1992 Men’s Olympic Basketball team is one that’s still talked about almost thirty years later. They were the “Dream Team” and there won’t be anything else like it ever again. You had the best players from the sport all playing at a high level collectively. How that happened is the subject of this documentary. People assume that top tier players can easily play together, but that’s not the case. Chuck Daly helped cut through the egos and expectations to create a team that could win together. Striking a balance on the team between being too selfish and not selfish enough is a hard task. How do you do it? Chuck Daly figured it out.

The documentary talks about “the game.” It was a scrimmage involving the Dream Team and smaller, faster guard players from the NCAA ranks. Daly purposefully coached the team into defeat because he wanted them to see that it was possible to lose. The international game at the time was comprised of fast guards that came off the ball quickly, kind of how the NBA is today. He proved his point that a gold medal and the ensuing glory wasn’t a given.

When I was a kid I was mesmerized by the Dream Team. Every player I liked was on the team. Jordan(everyone’s favorite), Pippen, Stockton, Malone, Magic, Bird (my dad’s favorite), Ewing, Mullin, Robinson (my favorite), Barkley (nobody’s favorite), and finally Clyde “The Glide” Drexler. Christian Laetner (piece of shit) was also on the team, chosen unbelievably over Shaquille O’Neal. The entire country reveled in each game as they’d beat their opponents by forty points or more. It was a good time to be a kid and into basketball.

Other interesting stories taking place in the documentary also coincided with Magic’s dealing with his HIV announcement and the fallout from it. For more on this subject, check out “The Announcement” on NBA TV or YouTube.

“Chasing Tyson” (2009): ESPN+

The drama that encircled Mike Tyson as a fighter during his competitive years was enormous. Most of it was partly him, partly his promoters, and partly circumstance. There is a lot to unpack between the poundings he delivered in the ring and his personal life chaos and ensuing time in prison. The fact he reigned during a time without fighting Holyfield seems to be more of a slight against Evander than Mike, which is an interesting turn in boxing history. Even though Tyson and Holyfield did meet twice with Evander winning both, people still won’t give Holyfield his due as one of the greatest boxers in history. All of this despite being the only professional to become the undisputed champion in two different weight classes.

The truth of the matter is that Tyson and Holyfield should have met earlier and the rigamarole to get them into the ring was unecessary. This is more due to Don King than anyone else to be honest. Watch enough boxing and you’ll see that the biggest downside are the promoters. Nobody wants their prize fighter to lose as a winning boxer is an earning boxer. It’s why Mayweather didn’t fight Pacquiao until late in Manny’s career. It’s just a thing that nobody admits but is totally evident. This documentary does explore that side in depth.

One interesting pop culture incident that is discussed is the “Fan man” interruption that occurred during the Bowe/Holyfield fight. If you don’t remember then you’ll be reminded of it. Unfortunately that man’s life didn’t end on a happy note.