Netflix Alert: ESPN's 30 for 30

Netflix Alert: ESPN’s ’30 for 30′

I have no idea how many sports fans or even documentary fans we have here at The Bonus View. If you’re out there, you should know that Netflix is currently streaming all of ESPN’s award-winning ’30 for 30′ series in HD.

As both as sports fan and a consumer of ESPN programming, I was really excited when the network announced and premiered this series back in 2009 and 2010. Unfortunately, since I’m unwilling to schedule my life around TV premieres and rebroadcasts, I missed almost every film. Even though the documentaries were released on Blu-ray this past fall, due to their unique production, I’ve been hesitant to blind-buy. The documentaries all have different directors with varied subjects, so any particular one may not be as equally enticing as another.

After the initial thirty, ESPN continued to produce new films using the same set-up. (The concept is attributed to Bill Simmons.) Some of these are available on Netflix as well, though I have yet to find the excellent ‘The Fab Five’ on Netflix streaming.

Personally, I’ve found some of these documentaries to be so fascinating that they’re hard to turn off. Some involve sporting phenomenons that I followed at the time, while others either predate me or follow events that occurred outside of my purview.

Highlights include:

  • ‘Pony Excess’
  • ‘Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks’
  • ‘The House of Steinbrenner’
  • ‘Kings Ransom’
  • ‘The Fab Five (not currently on Netflix) ‘
  • ‘Once Brothers’
  • ‘Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?’
  • ‘The Real Rocky’
  • ‘Jordan Rides the Bus’
  • ‘Catching Hell’

Sports fans owe it to yourselves to give these a shot.


  1. T.J. Kats

    I bought the set on sale for $40 after having seen about half during the initial run on tv and think it was worth that price for sure. You list of highlights is great although I would definitely add:

    The Band that Wouldn’t Die (I’m a Colts fan)
    Guru of Go (Bo Kimble shooting left handed free throws still chokes me up after almost 25 years)
    June 17, 1994 (never forget the bronco chase cutting into the NBA finals)

    And I would like to mention one of the ones you mentioned “Once Brothers”. I was a huge Dražen Petrović fan and seeing the whole backstory of what the war caused to Vlade and his relationship is amazing stuff.

    • I watched ‘June 17, 1994’ a few nights ago, and it was compelling. I thought I remembered those events more clearly, but that documentary made up entirely of TV footage (no new interviews) had several crazy details.

      The plethora of news choppers became so dense that their (micro-wave) transmissions began overlapping, producing chaotic fees to the viewers. And the many pre-air comments of people like Bob Costas trying to figure out how best to present updates and information. The Hertz commercial with Arnold Palmer and O. J. and the cops looking for a white Izuzu Trooper- I did not even know about the suicide note that was read on-air.

      • T.J. Kats

        Same here I was almost 16 at the time and I thought I remembered everything so clearly and then when I saw that I was like really this all happened at the same time.

  2. I should have mentioned as well, that on Netflix when the credits roll and Netflix minimizes the show (in some versions) and is ready to end, there are usually one to two minutes of extra interviews and footage after the credits that are worth watching.

    • Absolutely, I love the idea of Reggie telling John Starks, “Come on John, you got to do better- your’re supposed to be a starting shooting guard.”

      And then I can’t believe on draft night when they (Rick Barry I think) said to Reggie, “What you have to be that would be great, is to have the kind of intensity that your sister has, and you’ll be fine.”

      • T.J. Kats

        From a Pacers fan perspective anything negative that can ever be said about John Starks is worth seeing over and over again. When he headbutts Reggie and Ewing and Oakley want to beat his ass is one of my favorite sports moments of all time.

  3. Ryan

    They’re all great in their own way. I’m partial to the football-themed docs, and there are plenty of them here. The USFL, Baltimore Colts band, O.J., The U, and Pony Express. However, my favorite was “Once Brothers.” It’s incredible how the former Yugoslavia probably had the second-best collection of basketball talent in the world during the late 80s-early 90s, and to see it all torn apart by ethnic conflict, war, and then Drazen Petrovic’s death, is heartbreaking.

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