Magic Johnson

ESPN 30 for 30 (with respect, instead of a smirk) takes on faith, virginity and the NBA

ESPN 30 for 30 (with respect, instead of a smirk) takes on faith, virginity and the NBA

Yes, the YouTube photo at the top of this post is not normal GetReligion territory.

However, over the years we have taken more than our share of shots at branches of ESPN for covering stories about religious believers while paying little or no attention to the role that faith has played in their lives and stories. Silence or vague language has usually been the ESPN norm. However, on rare occasions, there has even been a dose of smirk -- or at the least, a digital rolling of the eyes -- added to some stories about faith-driven athletes.

So let's give credit where credit is due. Anyone who appreciates the world of news documentaries knows that the ESPN 30 for 30 team has been at the top of the pyramid for quite some time now when it comes to excellence.

Forget sports, for a minute. I'm talking about quality documentaries -- period. We are talking about films that take on complex, newsworthy subjects that, oh yeah, are linked to sports. I would put the classic "Roll Tide, War Eagle" in the same class with any film that I have seen on issues of race, class, tribal loyalties and the dark side of the human heart.

So this brings me to a recent 30 for 30 short entitled, "A.C. Green: Iron Virgin." That's the YouTube at the top of this post, but click here to go to the ESPN page dedicated to this film.

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Sports Illustrated surfs past an interesting fact in its Sportsman 'legacy' salute to Magic Johnson

Sports Illustrated surfs past an interesting fact in its Sportsman 'legacy' salute to Magic Johnson

I don't know about you, but every now and then I get into conversations (often on commuter trains, in my case) with other sports fans in which someone will ask, "So who are your top three sports heroes?" Well, that's pretty easy for me because -- as an old guy -- mine have been carved in stone for quite some time.

No. 1? That's the greatest professional basketball player ever -- Bill "How many rings do you have?" Russell. How does a Baptist preacher's kid in Texas end up as a fanatic fan of the greatest Boston Celtic of all time? His original autobiography was at the local library.

No. 2? I was in Texas, so Roger Staubach has to be near the top. And I've been a golfer since childhood, so then you have Jack Nicklaus. Right? Feel free to put your top three in the comments pages.

Anyway, I started with this overture because Earvin "Magic" Johnson is near the top of my top 10 and, honestly, I have him No. 2 on my hoops list. Yes, above Michael Jordan and Oscar Robinson may top Jordan, as well. I tend to favor guys who made every man on their teams better.

So I know quite a bit about Magic and his story. I've read most of the major long-reads and watched most of the documentaries. I know that he lived a very, very wild life that fueled all kinds of rumors when the HIV bomb hit. Where were you when you heard that news? I was in a parking lot at Denver Seminary, trying to find tissues in my car.

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