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Where Did The Week Go…

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— Ryan Beltram, EDN

Now I feel old. Monday marked the 10 year anniversary of one of the most notorious press conferences in sports history. Nothing particularly bad happened at this press conference; no one was fired, no one was apologizing for an off-the-field indiscretion and no one died.

We get it Allen, you don't like to practice.

No, this press conference became infamous for former Philadelphia 76er superstar Allen Iverson being unhappy at former coach Larry Brown’s insinuation that the 2002 76er team’s first round exit from the playoffs was a result of Iverson’s lack of interest in practice.

Iverson literally said the word ‘practice’ 24 times in a two-minute clip. Watching it again brought back memories of being in high school with my friends as we talked about the clip and imitated Iverson’s rant.

“We talkin about practice man. Not the game, not the game, not the game, we talkin about practice man.” Watching the clip reminded me of Seth Meyers’ Weekend Update sketch, “Really.”

It’s basically the same premise. Instead of using really, Iverson just says practice over and over again. You can hear the absurdity and frustration in Iverson’s voice as he emphasizes it.

Looking back, Iverson’s probably right. No player played harder on a basketball court than Allen Iverson. Those early 2000 76er teams were probably a little more successful than they had any right to be. I mean that 2001 team making it all the way to the NBA finals is still astonishing. Probably the worst team in the last twenty years to make it to the finals and that was their peak. The following year they lost to Toronto in the first round and were never contenders again.

Here we are ten years later and Iverson is 38-years-old and playing in China. The former league MVP hasn’t been relevant in four years and following some recent news that he’d filed bankruptcy, Iverson is desperate to get back to the NBA. Instead of frustration over a coaches’ unhappiness with his practicing habits, Iverson is frustrated with the 30 NBA teams that are not interested in him. I bet he would care a little more about practice now as long it was in the practice facility of an NBA team.

Netflix Instant Pick: Sneakers

My pick this week is the criminally underrated 1992 film Sneakers. Directed by Phil Alden Robinson who also directed the beloved sports film Field of Dreams but unfortunately has only made one film since Sneakers, the 2002 film The Sum of All Fears, Sneakers follows a team of unique individuals who are hired to test security systems of businesses like banks. They break into them and report back to the company what needs to be improved but since they’re good guys they don’t actually steal anything. It’s a clever premise and I’m surprised more movies haven’t been made with similar plot elements.

Since it’s a movie about a team, each of them needs to stand out in their own way. Lead by computer expert Martin Bishop (Robert Redford), each team member possesses their own form of expertise — including a stubborn former CIA agent (Sidney Poitier), a conspiracy theorist with knowledge of every gadget known to man (Dan Aykroyd), a young genius still learning the ropes (River Phoenix) and a blind soundman who seems to be the sanest of them all (David Strathairn).

Before Ocean's Eleven, there were these guys.

All of the supporting characters seem to have shady backgrounds and we never fully learn why they’ve gotten into this line of work, but it makes each of them that much more interesting. They all have skills that could easily be used with the worst intentions in mind, but they seem to love what they do and believe it serves a purpose.

But the one character whose secrets are revealed more clearly is Bishop’s. Two men posing as government agents hire him and his team to find an elusive black box. If they don’t find this box, Bishop will be exposed for something that occurred in his past. Normally on jobs, the team doesn’t ask questions.  If they just do the work, they’ll get paid. Once they retrieve the box however, they realize why it’s so valuable. Now with every government agency after them for this device, they must determine whether to destroy it or learn from it and decide whether it serves a necessary purpose.

What makes Sneakers great is that it balances both light and dark tones. The look of the film is very dark and there are genuine moments where certain characters are in danger. But for every gun being pointed at them or knock on the back of the head, there are scenes of funny banter between Poitier and Aykroyd and amateurish bits like accidentally spying on people having sex or stumbling over a counter.

The main source of the light-heartedness is Redford who is as charming as ever as the leading man. I was reminded here of his performances with Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting. Both films deal with characters who are technically criminals and yet we root for them because they’re likable and fun. Plus you can’t beat Redford’s signature acting tick: the double take. He does it several times in Sneakers and in a way he’s acknowledging that he’s having a good time with this movie and so should you.

Sneakers is one of those weird examples of a movie being more available to purchase than to rent. You can often find it in a bargain bin at most retail stores for $5 to $7. But it’s now available for streaming on Netflix and I highly recommend it.

Art Exhibit at Law Library Connects Superheroes to the Legal System

With The Avengers breaking box office numbers left and right and another Spider-Man and Batman movie coming out later this summer, superheroes are on a lot of people’s mind. But there’s a place on the UO campus that’s also thinking about comic book heroes and it’s not the first place you’d think of.

"Did you order a code red Superman?"

An exhibit in the UO’s John E. Jaqua Law Library entitled “Law in a World of Capes, Tights, and Trench Coats” examines the connection between masked men and the justice system.

Comic books for decades have been depicting superheroes as protectors and enforcers of justice. “Truth, justice and the American way” is a popular phrase in Superman. “With great power comes great responsibility” is another from Spider-man. But the ironic thing is, the very comic books and characters portraying and embodying justice and goodness has also been the center of many court cases.

Since Superman’s first appearance in 1938, courts have been hearing copyright infringement cases claiming that one tight-wearing superhero is substantially similar to another.

Learn more about these interesting court battles by visiting the exhibit in the Law Library, located inside the William W. Knight Law Center. The exhibit runs through May 15 and it doesn’t cost you anything.

 

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