CHICAGO — The first truly great American sports documentary, it’s universally agreed, was “Hoop Dreams.” Released in 1994, it garnered immediate critical acclaim; Roger Ebert later called it the best film of the decade and “one of the great moviegoing experiences of my lifetime.” Its failure to be nominated for an Academy Award caused such an outcry that the process for nominating Oscar-worthy documentaries was eventually revamped.
“Hoop Dreams,” you’ll perhaps recall, followed two promising basketball players from Chicago’s West Side from the eighth grade through high school. One of them, William Gates, became a star guard for suburban St. Joseph, where Isiah Thomas went to high school; the other, Arthur Agee, began at St. Joseph but ultimately wound up at his local public school, Marshall High, where in 1991 he led the team to a surprise third-place finish in the Illinois state championships.
by Joe Nocera
New York Times
December 23rd, 2016