'Basketball County: In The Water' Review: Presenting a remarkable community where basketball is a way of life
Prince George's County has a rich history and the basketball players who made it big vouch that it has something to do with the water
There's a sense of pride among the people of Prince George’s County. Their chest puffs up, a wide smile breaks in and a sense of confidence radiates on their faces when they talk about basketball.
The Showtime documentary helmed by John Beckham, a loyal native of the County, and executively produced by NBA star Kevin Durant provides an in-depth look at the place that has been the home of some of the greats of the game. If ESPN's 'The Last Dance' is all about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls that has enthralled many across the world, 'Basketball County: In the Water' promises to be the next best thing.
It is 60 minutes of some compelling storytelling. PG County has a rich history, and the players vouch that it has something to do with the water. Kids knee-high can be seen dribbling and shooting with some oversized Nike tops and there's something in that steely gaze. They were born in a place that eats, sleeps, and breathes basketball— It is a way of life, and they're passionate about their game.
Kevin Durant, Victor Oladipo, Michael Beasley, Quinn Cook, Rebekkah Brunson, and Marissa Coleman are some of the names that come to mind when it comes to listing down the top players from the place. And in each of them, there's a feeling of gratitude towards PG for showing them a way forward.
The docuseries also looks into the cultural and economic change and progress over the decades. From being riddled with cocaine cases to the famed Go- go dance, a popular music subgenre, Beckham attempts to capture the heritage of the county. Len Bias, one of the PG's best to be drafted to the Boston Celtics gets a tribute and his tragic death to cocaine overdose is covered in one of the plotlines. Bias was a legend and it is saddening to see him now being mentioned as an example to stay away from drugs.
PG's basketball culture has strong connections to men like Morgan Wootten and Adrian Dantley, the Naismith Hall of Fame inductees who share their stories about being part of a place that has dished out some precocious talent. And PG strives to keep the environment that way. They believe that sports play a crucial role in the positive development of an individual and will take them to heights and shape them to be good people. And the players agree. Perhaps it is easy to dub this as cliche, but it is the truth.
The famed DC Assault team gets highlighted as well with some exclusive footage of their on-court exploits. DC does assault, no doubts there as they symbolize a new breed of basketball players ingrained with strong basics and a solid attitude.
Co-founder of the Assault, Curtis Malone is a father figure and former players, the residents, and the players who saw the man up close defend him to kingdom come when asked about his sentencing. Malone was arrested after a role in a network that was involved in distributing large amounts of cocaine. That though doesn't change the fact he was the man behind one of the best AAU programs on the East Coast.
'In the Water' is a breezy watch. It's got its moments where there's an overwhelming sense of sadness when it comes to PG being in the news for the wrong reasons, but also brings in that joy when we see their citizens speak highly and proudly of what they have given to the sport. It is no surprise that this project is close to Durant. This is the one chance he gets to make the world see a place where basketball is more than just a sport. As we said, it is a way of life.
'Basketball County: In The Water' airs Friday 9 pm ET.