ESPN 30 for 30 Shorts: Mecca: The Floor that Made Milwaukee Famous (2014)

Directed by Chris James Thompson

The basketball roll continues, but this time we are treated to a film that is art, talking about art. Everyone has a different opinion about art, and y’know what, they’re all right! Art is subjective, so when it comes to judging things like films, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One of the charms about sports is the memories that are made as a part of it. I can remember going to baseball games, football games with my family. I can remember playing sports in certain tournaments, in certain summers, at certain parts of my life. It all remains behind and no matter what no one can take those memories away from me. Memories are one of my favorite aspects of sports, but they too can be subjective. I may remember the game one way while my brother a completely different way. We all take different things from art, including from sports.

With Mecca, director Chris James Thompson combines the two, taking a page out of the book of Robert Indiana, the pop art king who was tasked with redesigning the playing court for the Milwaukee Bucks, who were then playing in the Mecca Arena. The now famous court is since defunct, but the legacy lives on among those Milwaukee fans who remember. One such fan rallied every penny he had and has saved the court from wasting away in a warehouse, far away from its origin. It’s a funny thing about Milwaukee and sports I guess. If you have been following along with this marathon, one of the earlier films concerned the Marquette basketball team and its fashion statement jerseys. Art is very much a part of sports in my opinion. Games themselves, and everything that might go into their presentation.

In this case, we have art talking about art talking about art. The Mecca court may not be remembered as Indiana’s masterwork, and it may not even be remembered much in the future outside of the city of Milwaukee. However it is a memory, a work of art to be appreciated. It’s such an interesting thing to consider. What if all basketball teams took this approach? Why didn’t others follow when the Bucks received so much free publicity about it’s court? Why did the court, once the team moved arenas, fall by the wayside and end up in a warehouse, forgot by almost everybody? I guess the important thing to consider here is the fact that it wasn’t totally forgotten, it was remembered, saved, brought to the forefront once again. Art will always remain as a culturally significant “thing”, something that defines a generation, or a city, or some populace yearning to express themselves. Right or wrong, good or bad, that expression will be remembered.

**1/2 – Average

Adam Kuhn

Adam Kuhn was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he attended Saint Charles Preparatory School. He studied History at the University of Cincinnati, where he was a contributor of The News Record, the twice-weekly, independent student news organization. He has been writing film reviews and blogging since 2009.

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