Wednesday, July 2, 2008

"You Ugly as Shit, Donte"

Now here's a little story I gots to tell about three bad brothers you know so well. It started way back in history with Adrock, MCA and me, Mike D.

This little horsey named Paul Revere went to see MCA's movie "Gunnin' for That #1 Spot" last night, and if you love basketball, especially if you follow it from the high school level on up, this is a must see. Its objective was to profile a few of the players showcased in the inaugural Elite 24 game showcasing the top 24 high school players in America, which took place on Sept. 1, 2006, in Rucker Park. Now, the movie will never be considered the greatest of all time, but it gives a different, entertaining view of what it's really like to be one of the best basketball players in the world when you're still just a teenager. Check out the trailer here:

And let me tell you something, the crew that picked the 24 players invited (supposedly the best 24 players, regardless of age or grade, in the country, however some kids I'm sure declined), were pretty dead on.

First, we'll start with our home-grown star Tyreke Evans. At the time of filming, Reke was a 16-year-old, known in these parts as the next best thing. His journey and personality at 16 is clearly defined, at least through the movie's eyes, by his older brother, Eric "Pooh" Evans. Pooh, who won a state championship for Chester High School, defeating Kobe Bryant's Lower Merion squad in the process, projects a hard, tough, intelligent persona that seems to have helped Reke become a humble superstar that, despite living the in hard times of Chester, steers clear of trouble, for the most part.

We all know Reke was considered the best player in the class of 2008, and the American Christian Academy grad is on his way to Memphis, and then almost certainly the NBA.

The other players featured in the film are Michael Beasley, Jerryd Bayless, Donte Greene, Brandon Jennings, Kevin Love, Lance Stephenson and Kyle Singler. I will discuss them all except for Singler. He plays for Duke, and that automatically makes me hate him. Other notable participants include Villanova's Corey Stokes, Neumann-Goretti's Rick Jackson, J.J. Hickson (N.C. State and drafted 19 overall by Cleveland this year), DeAndre Jordan (Texas A&M, drafted by the Clippers No. 35) and Anthony Randolph (LSU, drafted by Golden State No. 14).

As far as picking the crop is concerned, boy did Adam Yauch, with I'm sure the help of many, many others, do a fantastic job. First off, Beasley (No. 2), Love (No. 5), Bayless (No. 11) and Greene (No. 28) were drafted in this year's NBA draft. Each of the profiled players brings something unique to the table.

Bayless provides a hilarious look when a friend of his tells him Evans is on the cover of the magazine, showing surprise and disgust, all in a bit of a playful manner. Bayless also details what it's like being from Arizona, fighting to get the exposure of East Coast kids and kids from bigger states. He wants to make his name at Rucker, and he does pretty good, taking home co-MVP of the Blue Team with Beasley in a winning effort.

Love comes across as your typical, humble kid, even discussing how he just wants to live a normal life until the lights shine on him at UCLA. However, his arrogance shows in his high school highlights, where he struts around the court. And during the game at Rucker, his incredible outlet passing skills are on full display.

Donte Greene has possibly the most compelling story, if it's not Brandon Jennings. Greene comes across as quiet and humble, staying grounded by the death of his mother at a young age. He's determined to make the league for his younger brother, and to thank his grandparents for sacrificing so much for him. Oh yeah, he's also a pawn in the funniest part of the movie. More on that later.

Jennings' story is much like Greene's. He grew up with no father, had people doubting him and is determined to make it big for his younger brother, who calls Brandon his favorite basketball player in the world. Jennings, who is contemplating skipping his freshman year at Arizona and instead playing overseas, also shows his game. He scores 12 points and dishes out 15 assists and is named co-MVP of the White Team along with J.J. Hickson in the losing effort.

Lance Stephenson is the Known Commodity at Rucker Park. A New York kid, Stephenson has been labeled a phenom since he was 12 years old. The film does an outstanding job capturing the neighborhood pulling for him, and the kid is sick. At only 15, he shows no fear going against the older high school kids, and he will be the most coveted high school senior in the class of '09.

And then there is Beasley, the film's unquestioned star. Now, he's not the star due to more screen time. That's shoveled out pretty equally. No, he is the star because of his personality and game. In fact, the film starts with Beasley filming himself in a horror-film feel, only to start cracking himself up. Later, he films himself sliding across the floor in socks, slamming into a wall or door.

Throughout, Beasley clearly displays his playful, goofy attitude. He pulls down a player's pants during filming, discusses mooning his teacher in first grade and jokes with everyone in sight. But make no mistake about it, when it comes game time, Beasley is serious. In fact, before the trip to Rucker, he declares, "If people think they're better than me, we'll see." He lacks no confidence at all. And you know, there was no one better during the game. Beasley finished with 26 points, and really dominated when the Blue Team needed him. And while ferocious and competitive on the court, he still lets his personality shine, talking to refs, trash-talking players and even hollering at females during the game.

And, Beasley offers up the greatest moment of the film. With Donte Greene guarding him, Beasley gets the ball, tells Greene, "You ugly as shit, Donte," and blows by Greene for a nasty reverse layup. It was the most awesome moment in a film full of awesome moments—many of them provided by Beasley.

Anway, the film was pretty nice. It touches on the absurdity of sneaker wars and ranking players as young as fifth grade, but for the most part, it focuses on these kids and their stories. If nothing else, you should watch it for Beasley, who is flat out a beast, in case you haven't heard.


  1. Thx for the review -- where did you see this? Sounds pretty interesting.

  2. I saw it at the Ritz Bourse in Old City. Go to for more details.

  3. I know it well. Old haunts from where I used to live, near the Tin Angel. Thanks for the info.

  4. Yeah, very good work here Rev. Can't wait to see this movie now.