ESPN Films' 30 for 30 documentary series will continue on Tuesday night with the premiere of Free Spirits, an hour-long look at the entertaining story of the Spirits of St. Louis, as confirmed by the series' official Twitter account:
As director Daniel H. Forer points out in the film summary, the former American Basketball Association (ABA) franchise wasn't around very long in the mid-1970s but featured a plethora of compelling and controversial characters that are still beloved four decades later.
Free Spirits will focus on the personalities that set the Spirits apart and the unique deal that the franchise's co-owners reached to keep the team in existence and earning revenue despite the fact that it hasn't played a game since 1976.
Below, we'll highlight the biggest reasons why Free Spirits is must-see television for sports fans.
The Can't-Miss Characters
What made the ABA so great decades ago and what makes it revered today is the endless list of characters that took the court night in and night out.
In Free Spirits, some of the league's most entertaining characters will be profiled, including names like Marvin "Bad News" Barnes and James "Fly" Williams. They may not be quite as outrageous as the fictitious Jackie Moon from "Semi-Pro," but they were far from your typical professional athletes.
Today's NBA may have no shortage of stars, but intriguing personalities and characters are hard to come by. Free Spirits will revisit a time when characters were worshiped as superstars.
Free Spirits is directed by nine-time Emmy Award-winning producer, director and writer Daniel H. Forer, who has already worked with ESPN in the past to develop a well-received film.
It also doesn't hurt that Forer is a big-time hoops fan who grew up following the ABA closely in Los Angeles, according to the film summary. He clearly has a passion for this subject, and there's no doubt it will show in Tuesday's premiere.
While most sports fans will be hearing Forer's name for the first time, his track record as a superb filmmaker speaks for itself and gives a mountain of credibility to this documentary.
One of the all-time great sportscasters, Bob Costas played a key role for the Spirits during their brief run in the mid-1970s, serving as the team's play-by-play announcer and calling St. Louis' unforgettable upset of the defending league champion New Jersey Nets in the first round of the 1975 ABA playoffs.
As Forer points out in the film summary, Costas is "one of our generation's best storytellers" and will certainly bring a tremendous amount of insight to the film.
Costas wasn't just around, but also there when the Spirits topped the Nets in five games in 1975 in arguably the greatest upset in the history of the ABA. Therefore, both his experiences and perspective should add a ton of intrigue to Free Spirits.
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