They are the NBA's stars of today…They are the NBA's daily highlight packages…They are the NBA's future legends…They are the NBA Now!
The NBA, of course, relies heavily on the amazing athletic skills of its players. But just as important to the success of the league is the cults of personality that surround the stars. It is this star power that keeps fans coming back for more. NBA Now! from USA Entertainment is a showcase for the youngest personalities in the league. Loaded with game footage and interviews, this disc acts as a "Who's Who" for some players you may not have even heard of yet. But the immediacy of the disc's content may hinder its lasting value to a DVD collection.
Facts of the Case
In order to look to the future, NBA Now! argues, it is important to look to the past. The young players of today grew up watching the legends of yesteryear, borrowing from, and perhaps improving upon, their feats. So a segment on "Showstoppers" highlights the career of Magic Johnson and his "Showtime" style of basketball, before suggesting that Kobe Bryant has inherited Magic's mantle as an "appointment viewing" player. NBA Now! uses this technique so much that the title of the disc might have more appropriately been "NBA Then and Now!" The "Magicians" segment reminds viewers that before Jason Kidd of the Phoenix Suns, there was Bob Cousy, the "Houdini of the Hardwood" who led his Celtics to six championships. Kidd has inherited Cousy's ability to create plays out of nowhere with no look, behind the back assists. No one had more "Heart and Soul" than the Piston's Isiah Thomas. That is until Allen Iverson of the Sixers, who at only 6 feet is the shortest scoring leader ever, came along. Segments on "Innovators," "Entertainers," and "Skywalkers" compare Shaquille O'Neal, Jason Williams, and Latrell Sprewell to the likes of Pete Maravich, Darryl Dawkins, and Dr. J. The program is wrapped up in a neat little package with interviews from players, coaches, and sportscasters spanning the 50 plus year history of the NBA.
NBA Now! is a briskly-paced 50 minutes, which is broken up into shorter segments so it never gets too boring. The framing device of comparing the younger players to the NBA's all-time legends is a good one. It gives a historical perspective that will be welcomed by longtime fans of the sport. As someone who often wishes the NBA of today were more like the NBA of yesterday, it is comforting to see, through interviews, that many of these young players appreciate the legacy that they upheld. In the case of Kobe Bryant and Jason Williams, the disc plunges deep enough to include interviews with family members and high school coaches. These are the highlights of the disc.
The disc is presented full frame, as is to be expected from televised material. The video quality is very good, though the older plays on the disc are often grainy or muddy. Most of the footage included is more recent, and doesn't suffer from the effects of age. The interviews are recent as well and look very good. This disc contains a Dolby 5.1 surround mix, which is a nice surprise, and an attractive feature to slap on the packaging. But a disc like this doesn't really need, or benefit from, such a mix.
Though after 50 minutes of game footage, I was ready to be finished, this disc contains more of the same as special features. One segment is called "Showmen: Above the Rim" with a 7 minute look at Elgin Baylor, Charles Barkley and Kevin Garnett and their "in the sky" method of basketball. The second segment is "Showmen: Below the Rim" focusing on Earl "The Pearl" Monroe and the "playground style." Finally there is a 5-minute segment on "The Doctor" detailing Julius Erving's rise through the ranks of the ABA. Given that this disc is primarily about young stars, this segment feels a little random, but not wholly unwelcome. Overall, these "special features" aren't really all that special, and are probably simply cuts from the main program partitioned to make it seem like a packed disc. It's not.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Focusing on the talent that is in the league at this very moment, NBA Now! is bound to lose it's relevancy pretty quickly. In the frequently shifting tides of professional sports, the stars of today aren't necessarily the stars of next week, much less next year. So while this disc may seem fresh and exciting now, it probably won't have the staying power to make it a worthwhile addition to a collection.
Also, like the other recent NBA discs from USA Entertainment, I get the feeling that most of the interviews used in this program have been culled from other programs. Film stocks and locations vary, giving the disc a recycled feel.
NBA Now! is definitely not worth a buy, even to hardcore fans of the sport. If you want to get some more insight into what makes these young players tick, give it a rent.
Guilty! But because it may have some merit as a rental, we'll give it a light sentence.
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