At the after party for Beastie Boy Adam Yauch’s documentary, Gunnin’ for that #1 Spot, it was pretty easy to recognize who was in the movie … just look for the giants! The film documents a 2006 game between 24 of the best high school basketball players in the country at Rucker Park in Harlem (referred to many manytimes by players as a “Mecca”). A few of the players—including Michael Beasley, whose name is constantly followed by the extended sobriquet “expected to be the No. 1 draft pick this year”—were in attendance, and the almost-seven-footers looked shy and big-footed among an adoring, rain-frizzled crowd. (During the Q and A after the film, many in the crowd kept asking Mr. Beasley if he’d come to New York. Wishful thinking).
First about the film (a trailer for which you can play above): Mr. Yauch has got it right, as far as that particular obscure basketball energy you get when the game is really great is concerned. It’s beautiful to watch these kids play, especially if, like me, you’ve had your spirit crushed by the N.B.A. and the circling-the-drain Knicks. But it’s the eight players the film shadows on their way to the big game that is the core of the movie. The boys are teenagers, but extraordinary ones, and the weight on their young shoulders is immense.
Oh, and the hip-hop soundtrack is infectious enough for anyone who’s not deep into hoops.
The after party was also one of those rare treats: well judged to fit with the spirit of the movie. There was a happy and mellow vibe in the Tribeca loft on Greenwich Street where pizza was served out of boxes, beer in bottles. Morgan Spurlock managed to be polite when a clueless blonde asked, “So have you been working on anything lately?” (His movie, Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? has been in theaters since the beginning of April.) A couple of the big guys who will no doubt be making millions in the N.B.A. this time next year picked up some ping pong paddles and started to play. The paddles looked tiny.