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Case Number 09599: Small Claims Court

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NBA: Lights Out

Warner Bros. // 2006 // 160 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // June 30th, 2006

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All Rise...

Judge Ryan Keefer thinks that if Dirk Nowitzki can get fined $5,000 for kicking a basketball, he would surely get fined twice that for kicking a semi-crappy DVD, right?

The Charge

"You stop thinking; I think that's the definition of 'the zone.' You stop thinking, your body reacts, whatever you've trained for or you've done takes over and your mind is out of the equation."

The Case

From what I can gather, the phrase "lights out" is a metaphor used to describe an athlete who is scoring points at an impressive clip. Guys like Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter and other current NBA superstars who score 12 or more points in a period or more than 40 points in a game have to be commended for the way that they are able to take over a game—to the point where their skills transcend the game they play, and everyone else is simply part of the peanut gallery.

In this new release, entitled Lights Out, the focus is on these stars as they share their thoughts on the proverbial "zone" and any additional thoughts or insight that they may share. At almost 90 minutes in length, the feature is a bit of a surprise in terms of just how long it is, and it's certainly chock full of information. Aside from the subjects and their opinions, there's almost quick biographical looks at their careers up to a certain point before there are clips of the banner games in question.

First things first—the first player we see is the New Jersey Nets' Vince Carter, as he discusses games in the 2005-06 season where he scored over 50 against the Miami Heat and 40 against the Toronto Raptors. The narrator says that Carter was a hero in the past, and he returns for a different reaction. Well, when your hero basically says that he only occasionally played hard when in the city he was traded from, it's a little understandable why those fans would boo him. Maybe it's me. On we go to Allen Iverson, as the talk switches to the 2001 playoffs and the duels he had with Carter before Iverson's Philadelphia 76ers won, before bowing out to the Los Angeles Lakers. Iverson doesn't seem to get a lot of face/interview time, perhaps it's because he's the anti-role model that NBA Commissioner David Stern is marketing these days. Going on from there is footage focusing on Chauncey Billups (a journeyman guard until coming to the Detroit Pistons), Tim Duncan (the quietest, most soft-spoken three-time NBA champion one will ever meet) and Robert Horry (a six-time champion with three separate teams who is possibly the closest thing to a Buddhist you will encounter here). The Seattle Sonics' Ray Allen, Houston Rockets' Tracy McGrady and Dirk Nowitzki all follow with their 40 point games, along with a 53 point game Nowitzki had against McGrady and the Rockets (McGrady scored 48 in a loss). After a look at some old school scorers (old school as in anyone who starred after 1980, with Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird getting some face time) before switching back over to Kobe Bryant and the scoring tear he was on in January 2006 that culminated with 80 points against the Toronto Raptors.

Now, getting back to the 90 minute feature, it's more than a little bit long. A diversion during the piece focusing on the "young guns" of the league was OK but a little bit pointless (other than to get LeBron James into the video). And most of the subjects aren't given much exposure past three or four minutes. To the credit of the piece, under the bonus material, classic playoff performances are included, like Bird and Dominique Wilkins in the 1986 playoffs (where Bird scored 20 in the 4th quarter compared to Wilkins' 14), Bernard King and Isiah Thomas also squared off in a memorable playoff battle, and Thomas' scintillating effort against Johnson and the Lakers in 1988 are included, albeit in edited six and seven minute chunks instead of say, a full game.

All in all, the extra material does make things compelling for the old fan who recalls some of the names from years back, and the young fans should enjoy seeing these efforts as well. The current package leaves a little bit to be desired and served as a bit of a puff piece for the league, but that's not an earth-shattering surprise. I would hope the league (and Warner) can put out or re-air some of these classic games to show everyone how things used to be before players had video games, bubble gum and felony charges to preoccupy.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 59

Perp Profile

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 160 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Documentary
• Sports

Distinguishing Marks

• Bonus Footage








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