There have been plenty of reasons to criticize ESPN lately – most notably the network's despicable coverage of LeBron James, “The Decision” and its aftermath.
But to be fair, there are a few things ESPN has gotten right, too one being its fantastic World Cup coverage in South Africa (the network threaded the tricky needle between satisfying hardcore Cup fanatics and explaining the nuances of the sport to casual viewers without pandering – not easy to do).
The other has been ESPN’s often brilliant “30 For 30” documentary series.
The series, conceived by columnist Bill Simmons, has delivered way more hits than misses, Thursday’s scheduled premiere of “Birth of Big Air” not withstanding. (The best “30 For 30” doc I’ve seen so far was Brett Morgan’s “June 17, 1994,” which chronicles one the most wild days in sports history, culminating in O.J. Simpson’s slow-speed white Bronco chase.)
ESPN announced its fall slate of “30 For 30” docs on Thursday, and it includes “One Night in Vegas,” the story behind Mike Tyson’s friendship with rapper Tupac Shakur, and the night Shakur was gunned down in Las Vegas after attending a Tyson fight.
Via the description:
On the evening of Sept. 7, 1996, Mike Tyson, the WBC heavyweight champion, attempted to take Bruce Seldon’s WBA title at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. At this point in his career, Tyson’s fights had become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon, where the ever present hype of the professional boxing scene would come face to face with the worlds of big business, Hollywood, and hip hop. Sitting ringside was controversial rapper Tupac Shakur. Shakur and Tyson were friends, a feeling of kinship linked them as each rose to stardom from poverty only to be thrown in prison. Following Tyson’s victory, Shakur and “Iron Mike” were to celebrate at an after party, but the rap star never arrived. Shakur was brutally gunned down later that night, and the scene in Las Vegas quickly turned from would-be celebratory revelry to ill fated and inopportune tragedy. Director Reggie Bythewood, with the full cooperation of Mike Tyson, will tell not only the story of that infamous night but of the remarkable friendship between Tyson and Tupac.
That one premieres September 7.