When I was growing up, the basketball player that every boy emulated was Pistol Pete Maravich, then a college star at Louisiana State University. His behind the back passes and fancy dribbling had all of us trying to duplicate them. However, even serious coaches conceded his ability, when the then University of Iowa head basketball coach Ralph Miller was asked, "Who do you believe is the best college basketball player in the country?", his answer was "Pete Maravich, because of his passing." His style of play was unprecedented on the college court; his moves forever changed the way basketball is played. The movie setting is when Maravich is in eighth grade and has been promoted to the varsity. Much shorter and frailer than the other players, he must rely on his motion and talent to remain competitive. While the story is clearly about Pete Maravich, it is just as much about his father Press Maravich, a former pro basketball player. In the movie Press instills in Pete an intense drive to succeed, after first making sure that you create dreams worthy of achievement. It is this message that tugs at your heart and keeps you emotionally involved in the movie. Although Press pushes Pete hard, it never crosses the line and he is always there for Pete, especially when he fails. There is the completely predictable "big game at the end" where the game is on the line, Pete shoots the last shot and it must go in if the game is to be won. That was rather dull, largely because it was so obvious and the proper tension was not generated before the climactic event. One of the best things about this movie is the performance of Adam Guier as Pete, while he cannot match the flair that Maravich had, he carries out enough of the basketball stunts to make the action reasonably believable. Which is a necessary condition for the movie to have any validity at all, for if the on-court action had consisted of only long-range shots of the basketball tricks, it would have landed with all the resilience of a flat basketball.
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