On the corner of 155th Street and Frederick Douglas Boulevard in Harlem, New York, lies Rucker Park. By appearances, the green concrete pavement, anchored on either end by its run down slab bleachers, is no different than any other basketball court in the city. But this is the place where nicknames are earned and legends are made. On September 1, 2006, the top 24 high school basketball players in the nation stepped out on this same court that once saw the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Dr. J to compete in the first annual "Boost Mobile Elite 24 Hoops Classic." GUNNIN' FOR THAT #1 SPOT documents these athletes' skills on the most legendary court in the world, showing never before seen footage of that "Elite 24" game.
It takes a while to hit its stride, but once that happens, Beastie Boy Adam Yauchs Gunnin' for That #1 Spot
does a terrific job capturing the hustle and flow of basketball, the sport it depicts. "Theyre gonna be millionaires in about five years," says the P.A. announcer (a hip and hilarious character known as Bobbito) of the players from around the country who come to compete in the first "Elite 24 High School All-American Game," held in 06 in Harlems Rucker Park, home to countless playground legends. For some, including 2008 NBA first-round draft picks Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, and Jerryd Bayless, it happened a lot sooner than that; for others it wont happened at all. But at the time, all the studs on the Blue and White teams had big-time hoop dreams, and the Rucker event was a chance to strut their stuff on a big stage. Problem is, it takes the better part of an hour to get to the actual game; profiles of the players, including visits to their home towns and interviews with friends, family, and others, are perfectly amiable but end up being rather monotonous (fewer than half are included in the documentary itself, with the others found on the second DVD, which is devoted entirely to bonus material). But when they finally hit the outdoor court, the doc starts to rock (never were a sport and a music style better matched than basketball and hip-hop, so its no surprise that Yauchs use of tracks by Ludacris, Nas, Jay-Z, his own band, and many others, including Old Skool R&B stars like Kool and the Gang, is nigh on perfect). The game is by far the best part of the show, with great court-level fisheye shots and deft editing (including the use of slo-mo and sound effects); Bobbito is a hoot (a personal favorite among his nicknames: Kyle "Wireless" Singler), and its a close, exciting contest to boot. Among the other bonus material are deleted scenes, the players own home video footage of their trip to NYC, and even a section devoted to Beasleys trash talk on the court. --Sam Graham