Review: Kelly Slater, The Announcement, You Don’t Know Bo

Review: Kelly Slater, The Announcement, You Don’t Know Bo

More pandemic and no sports means more sports documentaries. Here are a few more I found that I like digging around our subscription services.

“24/7: Kelly Slater” (2019) – HBO

Kelly Slater is referred to as the Michael Jordan of competitive surfing. This documentary follows him on the back end of his career as he plans retirement and gears up to win won more major title. It also unwittingly portrays the characteristics of a person who is driven to ascend the previously known limitations of a sport.

Competitive surfing sounds like competitive vacationing to most people, but there’s always nuances about these types of things that mean something to someone. I know this because I’ve fallen in love with competitive cycling. Most people may look at that sport and just think it’s guys out riding bikes and they don’t see the high level they’re operating in or the strategies at play. Competitive surfing is the same. Maybe if more people surf (I have never surfed) then they’d appreciate it more.

“The Announcement” (2012) – ESPN+

Magic Johnson is an NBA legend, and I’m curious how many people remember “The Announcement” when he revealed that he was HIV+ at a packed press conference. For basketball fans it was earth shattering. Magic Johnson WAS the NBA and one of their biggest celebrities before Michael Jordan. Younger people might not know, but HIV and AIDS was controversial and widely misunderstood. People were willing to write off victims of the disease as a consequence of living a life of “immorality”, and adults and children who contacted it through blood transfusions were ostracized. I am curious how many people remember Ryan White? To have Magic suddenly associated with the disease changed the conversation and helped shift public perception on the issue towards one that would fund research and start practicing safe sex.

“The Announcement” documents the time and fallout from Magic’s omission and his decision to continue playing basketball. I know he received push back from other NBA players like Karl Malone, but didn’t realize Isiah Thomas was in that group too (Magic and Isiah were best friends up to that point). He handles everything like a man and tries to get some good out of it.

I’d also suggest a follow up segment on NBA TV that has Magic and Isiah sitting down and hashing out their fallout. You can tell Isiah really regretted it. Hopefully they are friends again.

“You Don’t Know Bo” (2017)  – ESPN+

I am of the age that I can remember when Bo Jackson was the sports phenom. Not “a” sports phenom but “the” sports phenom. He was the talk of anyone who followed professional sports or was aware of pop culture surrounding 1990 +/- two years. If you remember the “Bo Knows” Nike commercials you know what I’m talking about. I remember wanting a “Bo Knows” white t-shirt with black lettering (Nike branded clothing was a “special” type of buy as they were marked up much more than other clothing). Bo was also the best character to play in Nintendo’s Tecmo Bowl and was absolute devastating to use. What about when Bo broke a bat over his knee in frustration? All of us thought he was the next sports legend. Then everything changed for Bo and most young people today may not even know his name.

If you want to understand Bo’s life and the terrible injury that occurred to end his career playing against the Cincinnati Bengals then watch this documentary. It’s an interesting expose into professional sports and marketing as well, a gimmick I think needs to be exposed. It’s also a personal look into Bo, who plays by his own rules in life, something I deeply respect. I also love that he’s an archer and hunter, and realize that under different circumstances we’d probably be friends.