ESPN Comes to TVNZ OnDemand

A selection of ESPN sport documentaries will stream on TVNZ OnDemand from December 12.

Culled largely from ESPN’s 30 for 30 library, they cover everything from boxing and martial arts to soccer, surfing and cricket:

42 to 1: Chronicles one of the most famous upsets in sports history: Buster Douglas’ shocking knockout of the then-undefeated Mike Tyson. Tyson was the most feared fighter of modern times. Douglas, meanwhile, was dismissed as a 42 to 1 underdog. No one thought he had the heart required of a champion. But at the Tokyo Dome on February 11, 1990, Douglas came to fight. Defying opinion, he proved to everyone that there was greatness in him.

Be Water: In 1971, before his superstardom, Bruce Lee returned to Hong Kong to get the opportunities to be a lead actor that eluded him in America. In the two years before his untimely death, Lee completed four films, which changed the history of film and made him a household name. Through rare archival footage, memories of family and friends, and his own words, the story of that time and Lee’s prior experiences are told with an intimacy and immediacy that have infrequently been used in earlier tellings of his legend. Growing up and living between the West and the East, Lee was ahead of his time in thinking about the transnational audience. He experienced the racist reaction of an American film industry inundated by a subservient and menacing image of Asian people—and learned he’d have to tell his own stories to escape it. Director Bao Nguyen elegantly weaves Lee’s personal struggle for visibility with that of his times and reminds us that though it was for a short time, Lee’s star burned so brightly we still see it today.

Celtics/Lakers: Best of Enemies: There are rivalries, and then there is the Celtics vs. the Lakers. This 3-part film not only gets to the heart of the greatest tug-of-war in NBA history, but also shows how their three riveting finals in four years in the 1980s fuelled the popularity of the NBA.

George Best: All By Himself: He was the Beatles of soccer – a handsome, charismatic lad from Belfast, Northern Ireland who worked wonders with the ball and thrilled Great Britain. But George Best was also the lead in a Shakespearean tragedy fuelled by drink and excess and depression.

Chuck and Tito: One was a kick-boxer, the other a wrestler. One looked like he’d been in a few too many fights, the other could have stepped off a movie poster. They were Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, “frenemies” from SoCal who brought millions of fans to mixed martial arts and supercharged the UFC. In this brutally honest documentary, director Micah Brown recaptures their glory days while chronicling MMA’s unlikely history and success.

Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau: “Eddie Would Go.”  The phrase has long carried deep meaning with countless Hawaiians and surfers worldwide.  Explore the remarkable life and power of Eddie Aikau, the legendary Hawaiian big wave surfer and native son whose dynamic life and heroic death served as inspiration to an entire spiritual movement.

Lance: A fascinating, revealing, comprehensive chronicle of one of the most inspirational – and then infamous – athletes of all time. Based around extensive interviews and conversations with Lance Armstrong, the two-part film tells the story of the cyclist’s rise out of Texas as a young superstar cyclist; his harrowing battle with testicular cancer; his recovery and emergence as a global icon with his seven consecutive Tour de France titles; and then his massive fall after he was exposed in one of the largest doping scandals in history.

Jordan Rides the Bus: After leading the Dream Team to Olympic Gold and taking the Chicago Bulls to their third consecutive NBA championship, Michael Jordan walked away from the game of basketball.  Ron Shelton (Bull Durham, Tin Cup) shares this surprisingly touching story about the motivations that drove the world’s most famous athlete to play a new sport in the relative obscurity of Birmingham, Alabama.

Muhammad and Larry: In October of 1980 Muhammad Ali was preparing to fight for an unprecedented fourth heavyweight title against his friend and former sparring partner Larry Holmes. To say that the great Ali was in the twilight of his career would be generous; most of his admiring fans, friends and fight scribes considered his bravado delusional. What was left for him to prove?

Mack Wrestles: Mack Beggs broke records and changed history when he won the Texas state title as a transgender wrestler. Now with high school ending and college on the horizon, the sports champion, national activist, and high school hero must grapple with what comes next.

Nature Boy: Traces Ric Flair’s epic career-from the creation of his blond Adonis character, through the glory days of the NWA and The Four Horsemen, to his poignant last years in the ring. Serving as witnesses are a Who’s Who of wrestling: Triple H, The Undertaker, Baby Doll, Shawn Michaels, Jim Ross, Ricky Steamboat, Sting and Hulk Hogan.  It was Ric Flair who popularized the boast, “If you want to be The Man, you gotta beat The Man.” In this film, you’ll get to meet the man.

Qualified: In the world of motor sports, the Indianapolis 500 has long been considered the only race. In May 1977, Janet Guthrie- the first woman to attempt Indy- earned herself a spot in the prestigious field of 33. Qualified will pull you inside the hallowed grounds of Indianapolis, where the laps separate footnotes from legends. And Guthrie had to do it with unprecedented scrutiny on her.

Rodman: For Better or Worse: Beginning in Dallas, where Rodman and his family members recall a difficult and often uncomfortable childhood, the film traces his improbable rise from an at times homeless, teenaged airport janitor whose belated, extraordinary growth spurt propels him to small school stardom at Southeastern Oklahoma State, and then to the Detroit Pistons as a second-round NBA draft selection. In the pros, Rodman first becomes a role player for the future back-to-back champions before emerging as the league’s best rebounder – and perhaps the most iconoclastic figure in basketball history.

Setente Sete: Sam Borden reports on the tragic 2016 plane crash that killed 71 players, coaches and staff members of Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer team. Aviation experts, family members and several survivors are interviewed.

Slaying the Badger: Before Lance Armstrong, there was Greg LeMond, who is now the first and only American to win the Tour de France. In this engrossing documentary, LeMond looks back at the pivotal 1986 Tour, and his increasingly vicious rivalry with friend, teammate, and mentor Bernard Hinault. The reigning Tour champion and brutal competitor known as “The Badger,” Hinault ‘promised’ to help LeMond to his first victory, in return for LeMond supporting him in the previous year. But in a sport that purports to reward teamwork, it’s really every man for himself.

The Birth of Big Air: Mat Hoffman is a BMX legend … 10-time World Champion and X Games icon, he has a medical hit list that includes dozens of broken bones, concussions, and multiple comas. Some assume Hoffman has a death wish. But actually, it’s a life wish: to find out what’s possible on a BMX bike. 

The Good, the Bad, the Hungry: Two competitors address their years-long rivalry on their sport’s biggest stage: the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest.

The Little Master: For over two decades, International Cricket Star Sachin Tendulkar dominated his sport and claimed lost every record for his home nation India. But the one thing that eluded him was the sports ultimate prize – the cricket World Cup. In 2011, on his home turf, Tendulkar would get his one final shot, surrounded by teammates, many of whom grew up during his legendary career. The result would be dramatic campaign that spoke not just for Tendulkar’s iconic career, but India itself.

Tommy: The story of one-time heavyweight boxing champion Tommy Morrison is a tale that’s unlike any other. Born into a troubled family in American, Morrison’s initial emergence as a fighter was in Rocky V.  He then beat George Foreman for the WBO heavyweight title, and was primed for stardom. In 1996, he tested positive for HIV, forcing him into retirement.  From there, Morrison’s life spiraled further and further downward. Rarely is the loss of potential as poignant as the case of Tommy Morrison.

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