The UCLA Dynasty
Empty10 p.m., Monday, March 26
You don't have to be a diehard UCLA basketball fan to appreciate this tribute to the great Bruins teams of yesteryear, but it helps.
The hourlong documentary, scheduled to coincide with the approach of the Final Four, looks at UCLA from 1964 through 1975. During that period, UCLA captured 10 national championships, establishing a dynasty unlike anything seen before or since.
The HBO Sports documentary, narrated by Liev Schreiber, includes interviews with virtually every prominent player and plenty who weren't. Even former UCLA students Beau Bridges and Mark Harmon (who played quarterback for the Bruins) get face time. Mostly, and appropriately, the focus is on John Wooden, who remains, at 96, the living symbol of UCLA basketball. Using film clips and recent interviews, an affectionate portrait emerges of a man who is both leader and father figure, demanding and understanding.
While exec producers Ross Greenburg and Rick Bernstein concentrate as much on the coach as the whole rest of the team, they also spotlight the play of several Bruins (Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Bill Walton, Lucius Allen and Sidney Wicks in particular) and point out how UCLA's success elevated national interest in all of college basketball.
The one significant omission is an account of the strategy and innovations that helped win game after game, which is barely mentioned here. Even so, this is an impressive account of an impressive team.