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30 for 30: Free Spirits

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The ABA!  Dr. J! Blue, red, and white basketballs!

The Spirits of St. Louis were one ABA team, and one of only two that didn't get absorbed into the NBA when the ABA folded.  Why is kind of murky, possibly because the league didn't want to have a franchise in St. Louis where they had already tried a franchise and failed, possibly because the NBA didn't like the Spirits freewheeling style, built around the extremely talented and extremely unruly Marvin Barnes.  Whatever the reason, the owers of the team fought with the NBA, and secured an agreement where they get 1/7 of the money from the TV rights of each of the four teams that entered the NBA from the ABA.  This has proved extremely lucrative.

The film isn't a single great story, it just happens to have an intersection of a lot of interesting stories.  The crazy antics of Marvin Barnes, the early career of Bob Costas, the roughriding and innovative ABA, and the intricacies of sports executive management are all present.  It provides an interesting window into something that's fading from memory.

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