Although branded as a documentary, the narrative underpinning the struggles and successes of the characters depicted in More Than A Game make the movie more than your typical non-fiction film. In fact the universality of the themes explored — the power of forgiveness, the need for mentorship, and the evolution of race relations — make Kristopher Belman’s masterpiece the prototype for a new wave of documentary film.
It goes without saying that LeBron James is More Than A Game’s marquee star, but the film casts a welcome spotlight on Coach Dru Joyce II, the unsung hero behind the athletic (and character) development of LeBron, as well as the other members of Fab Five: Dru Joyce III, Romeo Travis, Sian Cotton, and Willie McGee. His interviews are the most memorable, and halfway through the film, Coach Dru notes that “[his] job wasn’t about basketball, but to turn [the aforementioned boys] into men.” By the time the end credits roll, the viewer is quite certain that this mission was fulfilled. In fact, three weeks following my attendance at an advance screening, I am still in awe of Coach Dru’s dedication and commitment to a motley crew of young, African-American boys that were not his own.
Had it not been for Coach Dru, would the world have ever known about LeBron James, in spite of his tremendous talents? Perhaps. But I am inclined to think that even if LeBron made it to the NBA, he would not be the same player that millions of basketball fans have come to grow and love. After all these years, Coach Dru’s mandate — which opens the film — still seems to be the crux of LeBron’s professional philosophy: "Basketball is a vehicle, not a be-all and end-all. Use basketball; don't let it use you."
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