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Movie Review: More Than A Game

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The documentary More Than A Game is the inspirational story of Lebron James and the road he took to be where he is today. Directed by Kristopher Belman in 2008, the film shows the hardships that James had to endure to become a star. Being from Akron, Ohio where basketball stars don’t normally reside, a group of young men start out early on their basketball careers. With a love for the game, they begin their journey as teammates, but end up as brothers.

The beginning of the documentary shows Lebron as a young boy who is developing a passion for basketball. He is asked by Dru Joyce II to join an AAU basketball team. Joyce’s son, Dru Joyce III, is also part of the team. Where they live isn’t the safest place and support from families is rare.

The team practices at a small gym that is funded by the Salvation Army.
Coach Joyce starts to realize how much potential the boys have and decides to do all that he can to get them across the United States to play against the best teams. The Shooting Stars, as they were called, made it into the finals of their first national AAU tournament. It was unheard of for a team that wasn’t well known to beat some of the best players in the nation. They took second place that year and were ready for their comeback.

Four of the five starters called themselves the “Fab Four” because they were best friends and did everything together. Not many of them had much to turn to at home and relied on the others as family. When high school came around, Joyce wanted to go to St. Vincent-St. Mary High School where the basketball coach was a shorter guy like him and could relate. All four of the boys agreed to make the commitment together. Their freshman and sophomore years they were named state champions. During junior year they didn’t defend their title.

The struggle of defeat was rough on all the boys and going into senior year they weren’t going to let anything hold them back from winning. The documentary ends with chilling, but tearful, footage of the team celebrating their national title. Most of the documentary has real footage of Lebron from when he was younger and you can see him grow up and mature over the film. The celebrity that he became in high school is something that is rare.

There are interviews with Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant commenting on Lebron’s game while he was still in high school. His outstanding abilities are unlike anything most people ever experience in high school. That’s why he’s made it to the big leagues. The surprising part of this film is how much heart he has. Hardly ever do we get to see a glimpse of a professional athlete’s personality off the court, but the film makes him real.

Even if you aren’t a basketball enthusiast, this film is full of courage and hardships that many people can relate to. This documentary wasn’t an expensive production, but it’s still a must-see. The storyline allows the viewer to feel the hurt when the team loses a game and triumph when they win. You get to feel like a participant in the life of Lebron James  and really get to see inside his thoughts. It’s not hard to follow through the story since it’s chronologically documented and in the end there are plenty of connections.

There isn’t a bad thing to say about this film because when it’s over you’re inspired and have a better understanding of why there is so much pressure put on young athletes today. Lebron James is a celebrity who doesn’t always have the best press, but hearing his story makes him seem more human.

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About Catherine Fuller