ESPN 30 for 30 Shorts: Posterized (2014)

Directed by Andrew Jenks

More basketball, but really instead of basketball we get more drama, more humanity, with this installment of the 30 for 30 shorts series. Shawn Bradley is a name that I’m sure brings a chuckle or a look of disappointment upon the face of many a basketball fan. At 7’6″ tall, Bradley was drafted at #2 overall in the NBA draft. Labeled as a “can’t miss” and as a player that would “change the game”, Bradley played for several teams and never lived up to his potential. He played an average length career, but never really turned heads, and never once made the All-Star team. Bradley, at such a great height, was more of a poster boy for being dunked on than he was for headlines and escapades.

Bradley may have been a flop in the terms of NBA analysts and experts, but in reality he was a solid player. But what this documentary from Andrew Jenks brings to the conversation is who Bradley is/was as a person. It examines not only his failures on the court, but also his unseen successes, both on and off the court. What the film managed to do for me is pause and think about the life of a celebrity. Always in the spotlight, it must seem like they could never do the right thing, or in the case of overpraise, be able to get away with anything. But rarely do we consider sports heroes in terms of their personal lives. Bradley may not have been a great NBA player, and that’s fine, but how does he feel about it, or better yet, what does he do about it today?

For a moment I feared this film may become more about itself, trying to capture an interview with Bradley, then it would be about examining the actual man. But once the filmmaker was able to sit down and talk with Bradley, I was able to see the world through his eyes, instead of the one painted by the media. Bradley is someone to be looked up to, both physically and as a role model. He is a man of faith (whether you’re a Mormon like he is or not, I certainly respect him sticking to his principles), he is a happy and loving father, and he uses his experiences to help children as an assistant principal today. And on top of that, he has more blocks in NBA history than all but 15 other players. And let’s be honest, he may have been laughed at, but he made plenty of money in his career. Shawn Bradley is just another man, not some object to be dunked on.

*** – Good

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