The BEST episodes of 30 for 30 season 1

Every episode of 30 for 30 season 1, ranked from best to worst by thousands of votes from fans of the show. The best episodes of 30 for 30 season 1!

Inspired by ESPN's anniversary, ESPN Films is launching 30 FOR 30, an unprecedented documentary series featuring 30 of today's finest storytellers telling thirty remarkable stories from the ESPN era. On their own, each of the films will be an intimate look at a specific story, relevant to larger themes from the modern era. Collectively, these films will be a diverse mosaic of what sports has meant to American and World culture in the last thirty years. Each storyteller will bring their passion and personal point of view to their film detailing the issues, trends, athletes, teams, rivalries, games and events that transformed the sports landscape from 1979 to 2009.

Last Updated: 7/2/2024Network: ESPNStatus: Continuing
Share:
Once Brothers
star
8.71
224 votes

#1 - Once Brothers

Season 1 - Episode 25 - Aired 10/12/2010

Drazen Petrovic and Vlade Divac were two friends who grew up together sharing the common bond of basketball. Together, they lifted the Yugoslavian National team to unimaginable heights. After conquering Europe, they both went to America where they became the first two foreign players to attain NBA stardom. But with the fall of the Soviet Union on Christmas Day 1991, Yugoslavia split up. A war broke out between Petrovic's Croatia and Divac's Serbia. Long buried ethnic tensions surfaced. And these two men, once brothers, were now on opposite sides of a deadly civil war. As Petrovic and Divac continued to face each other on the basketball courts of the NBA, no words passed between the two. Then, on the fateful night of June 7, 1993, Drazen Petrovic was killed in an auto accident. "Once Brothers" will tell the gripping tale of these two men, how circumstances beyond their control tore apart their friendship, and whether Divac has ever come to terms with the death of a friend before they had a chance to reconcile.

Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks
star
8.42
186 votes

#2 - Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks

Season 1 - Episode 8 - Aired 3/14/2010

Reggie Miller single-handedly crushed the hearts of Knick fans multiple times. But it was the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals that solidified Miller as Public Enemy #1 in New York City. With moments to go in Game 1, and facing a seemingly insurmountable deficit of 105-99, Miller scored eight points in 8.9 seconds to give his Indiana Pacers an astonishing victory. This career-defining performance, combined with his give-and-take with Knicks fan Spike Lee, made Miller and the Knicks a highlight of the 1995 NBA playoffs. Peabody Award-winning director Dan Klores will explore how Miller proudly built his legend as “The Garden’s Greatest Villain”.

Directors: Dan Klores
Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
Into the Wind
star
8.41
162 votes

#3 - Into the Wind

Season 1 - Episode 23 - Aired 9/28/2010

In 1980, Terry Fox continued to fight bone cancer and deep despair in pursuit of a singular, motivating vision—to run across Canada. Three years after having his right leg amputated six inches above the knee, Fox set out to cover more than a marathon’s distance each day until he reached the shores of Victoria, British Columbia, spreading awareness and raising funds for cancer research. Anonymous at the start of his journey, Fox steadily captured the heart of a nation with his marathon of hope. After 143 days and two-thirds of the way across Canada, with the eyes of a country watching, Fox’s journey came to an abrupt end when newly discovered tumors took over his body. Two-time NBA MVP, proud Canadian, and first-time filmmaker, Steve Nash, will share Fox’s incredible story of perseverance and hope.

Directors: Steve Nash
Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
Guru of Go
star
8.13
171 votes

#4 - Guru of Go

Season 1 - Episode 9 - Aired 4/3/2010

By the mid-1980s Paul Westhead had worn out his welcome in the NBA. The best offer he could find came from an obscure small college with little history of basketball. In the same city where he had won an NBA championship with Magic and Kareem, Westhead was determined to perfect his non-stop run-and-gun offensive system at Loyola Marymount. His shoot-first offense appeared doomed to fail until Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble, two talented players from Westhead’s hometown of Philadelphia, arrived gift-wrapped at his doorstep. With Gathers and Kimble leading a record scoring charge, Westhead’s system suddenly dazzled the world of college basketball and turned conventional thinking on its head. But then, early in the 1989-90 season, Gathers collapsed during a game and was diagnosed with an abnormal heartbeat. Determined to play, Gathers returned three games later, but less than three months later, he tragically died on the court.

Directors: Bill Couturié
Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
The Best that Never Was
star
8.04
187 votes

#5 - The Best that Never Was

Season 1 - Episode 29 - Aired 11/9/2010

In 1981, college athletic recruiting changed forever as a dozen big-time football programs sat waiting for the decision by a physically powerful and lightning-quick high school running back named Marcus Dupree. Having already graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, Dupree attracted recruiters from schools in every major conference to his hometown of Philadelphia, Miss. More than a decade removed from being a flashpoint in the civil-rights struggle, Philadelphia was once again thrust back into the national spotlight. Dupree took the attention in stride, and committed to Oklahoma. What followed, though, was a forgettable college career littered with conflict, injury and oversized expectations. Eight-time Emmy Award winner Jonathan Hock will examine why this star burned out so young and how he ultimately used football to redeem himself.

Directors: Jonathan Hock
Watch Now:Amazon
Without Bias
star
7.94
139 votes

#6 - Without Bias

Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired 11/3/2009

More than two decades after his tragic cocaine overdose, the late Len Bias still leaves more questions than answers. When Bias dropped dead two days after the 1986 NBA Draft, he forever altered our perception of casual drug use and became the tipping point of America's drug crisis in the mid-80's. Future generations continue to face the harsh punishment of drug policies that were influenced by the public outcry after his heartbreaking death. Instead of becoming an NBA star, he became a one-man deterrent, the athlete who reminded everyone just how dangerous drug use can be. Amazingly, questions still linger about his death nearly a quarter-century later. How good could he have been in the pro ranks? Has he become underrated or overrated as the years pass? How could a University of Maryland superstar and Boston Celtics lottery pick be derailed by a cocaine binge? Was Bias a one-time user as we were led to believe, or was there a pattern of recreational use that led to his fatal last night? Did he fall in with the wrong crowd? In the most ambitious, comprehensive and uncompromising account of Bias’ life and death ever captured on film, up-and-coming director Kirk Fraser utilizes dozens of interviews with Bias’ closest teammates, friends and family in an effort to determine exactly what happened on that fateful night. Maybe it wasn't as much of a fluke as we thought.

Directors: Kirk Fraser
Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
The U
star
7.90
143 votes

#7 - The U

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired 12/12/2009

Throughout the 1980s, Miami, Florida, was at the center of a racial and cultural shift taking place throughout the country. Overwhelmed by riots and tensions, Miami was a city in flux, and the University of Miami football team served as a microcosm for this evolution. The image of the predominantly white university was forever changed when coach Howard Schnellenberger scoured some of the toughest ghettos in Florida to recruit mostly black players for his team. With a newly branded swagger, inspired and fueled by the quickly growing local Miami hip hop culture, these Hurricanes took on larger-than-life personalities and won four national titles between 1983 and 1991. Filmmaker Billy Corben, a Miami native and University of Miami alum, will tell the story of how these “Bad Boys” of football changed the attitude of the game they played, and how this serene campus was transformed into “The U.”

Directors: Billy Corben
Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
The Birth of Big Air
star
7.83
144 votes

#8 - The Birth of Big Air

Season 1 - Episode 17 - Aired 7/29/2010

In 1985, at the tender age of 13, Mat Hoffman entered into the BMX circuit as an amateur, and by 16 he had risen to the professional level. Throughout his storied career, Hoffman has ignored conventional limitations, instead, focusing his efforts on the purity of the sport and the pursuit of “what’s next.” His motivations stem purely from his own ambitions, and even without endorsements, cameras, fame and fans, Hoffman would still be working to push the boundaries of gravity. Academy Award nominee Spike Jonze and extreme sport fanatic Johnny Knoxville, along with director Jeff Tremaine, will showcase the inner workings and exploits of the man who gave birth to “Big Air.”

Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
Pony Excess
star
7.78
136 votes

#9 - Pony Excess

Season 1 - Episode 30 - Aired 12/11/2010

From 1981-1984, a small private school in Dallas owned the best record in college football. The Mustangs of Southern Methodist University (SMU) were riding high on the backs of the vaunted "Pony Express" backfield. But as the middle of the decade approached, the program was coming apart at the seams. Wins became the only thing that mattered as the University increasingly ceded power of the football program to the city's oil barons and real estate tycoons and flagrant and frequent NCAA violations became the norm. On February 25, 1987, the school and the sport were rocked, as the NCAA meted out "the death penalty" on a college football program for the first and only time in its history. SMU would be without football for two years, and the fan base would be without an identity for 20 more until the Mustangs' win in the 2009 Hawaii Bowl. This is the story of Dallas in the 1980's and the greed, power, and corruption that spilled from the oil fields onto the football field and all the way to the Governor's Mansion. Director Thaddeus D. Matula, a product of the SMU film school, chronicles the rise, fall, and rebirth of this once mighty team.

Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
The Band That Wouldn't Die
star
7.77
184 votes

#10 - The Band That Wouldn't Die

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired 10/13/2009

In late March of 1984, a moving company secretly packed up the Baltimore Colts' belongings and its fleet of vans snuck off in the darkness of the early morning. Leaving a city of deeply devoted fans in shock and disbelief. What caused owner Robert Irsay to turn his back on a town that was as closely linked to its team as any in the NFL? Through the eyes of members of the Colts Marching Band illustrating how a fan base copes with losing the team that it loves.

Directors: Barry Levinson
Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
Four Days In October
star
7.71
223 votes

#11 - Four Days In October

Season 1 - Episode 24 - Aired 10/5/2010

When the night of October 16, 2004 came to a merciful end, the Curse of the Bambino was alive and well. The vaunted Yankee lineup, led by A-Rod, Jeter, and Sheffield, had just extended their ALCS lead to three games to none, pounding out 19 runs against their hated rivals. The next night, in Game 4, the Yankees took a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning, then turned the game over to Mariano Rivera, the best relief pitcher in postseason history, to secure yet another trip to the World Series. But after a walk and a hard-fought stolen base, the cold October winds of change began to blow. Over four consecutive days and nights, this unlikely group of Red Sox miraculously won four straight games to overcome the inevitability of their destiny. Using extensive archive coverage from that week, Major League Baseball Productions will produce a film in "real-time" that takes an in-depth look at the 96 hours that brought salvation to Red Sox Nation and made baseball history in the process.

Directors: Gary Waksman
Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
King's Ransom
star
7.67
260 votes

#12 - King's Ransom

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired 10/6/2009

On August 9, 1988, the NHL was forever changed with the single stroke of a pen. The Edmonton Oilers, fresh off their fourth Stanley Cup victory in five years, signed a deal that sent Wayne Gretzky, a Canadian national treasure and the greatest hockey player ever to play the game, to the Los Angeles Kings in a multi-player, multi-million dollar deal. As bewildered Oiler fans struggled to make sense of the unthinkable, fans in Los Angeles were rushing to purchase season tickets at a rate so fast it overwhelmed the Kings box office. Overnight, a franchise largely overlooked in its 21-year existence was suddenly playing to sellout crowds and standing ovations, and a league often relegated to “little brother” status exploded from 21 teams to 30 in less than a decade.

Directors: Peter Berg
Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson
star
7.60
161 votes

#13 - No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson

Season 1 - Episode 10 - Aired 4/13/2010

On Valentine’s Day 1993, 17-year-old Bethel High School basketball star Allen Iverson was bowling in Hampton, Va., with five high school friends. It was supposed to be an ordinary evening, but it became a night that defined Iverson’s young life. A quarrel soon erupted into a brawl pitting Iverson’s young black friends against a group of white patrons. The fallout from the fight and the handling of the subsequent trial landed the teenager—considered by some the nation’s best high school athlete—in jail and sharply divided the city along racial lines. Oscar nominee Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”) returns to his hometown of Hampton, where he once played basketball, to take a personal look at this still-disputed incident and examine its impact on Iverson and the shared community.

Directors: Steve James
Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
Silly Little Game
star
7.56
110 votes

#14 - Silly Little Game

Season 1 - Episode 11 - Aired 4/20/2010

Fantasy Sports is estimated to be a $4 billion dollar industry that boasts over 30 million participants and a league for almost every sport imaginable. But for all this success, the story of the game’s inception is little known. The modern fantasy leagues can be traced back to a group of writers and academics who met at La Rotisserie Francaise in New York City to form a baseball league of their own: The Rotisserie League. The game quickly grew in popularity, and with the growing use and attractiveness of the Internet, the “founding fathers” never foresaw how their creation would take off and ultimately leave them behind. Innovative filmmakers Adam Kurland and Lucas Jansen will chronicle the early development and ultimate explosion of Rotisserie Baseball, and shine a light on its mostly unnoticed innovators.

Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
The 16th Man
star
7.56
160 votes

#15 - The 16th Man

Season 1 - Episode 13 - Aired 5/4/2010

Rugby has long been viewed in South Africa as a game for the white population, and the country’s success in the sport has been a true source of Afrikaner pride. When the 50-year-old policies and entrenched injustices of apartheid were finally overthrown in 1994, Nelson Mandela’s new government began rebuilding a nation badly in need of racial unity. So the world was watching when South Africa played host to the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Though they had only one non-white player, the South African Springboks gained supporters of all colors as they made an improbable run into the final match where they beat the heavily favored New Zealand team. When Mandela himself marched to the center of the pitch cloaked in a Springbok jersey and shook hands with the captain of the South African team, two nations became one. Oscar winner Morgan Freeman and director Cliff Bestall will tell the emotional story of that cornerstone moment and what it meant to South Africa’s healing process.

Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
Run Ricky Run
star
7.52
169 votes

#16 - Run Ricky Run

Season 1 - Episode 12 - Aired 4/27/2010

Ricky Williams does not conform to America’s definition of the modern athlete. In 2004, with rumors of another positive marijuana test looming, the Miami Dolphins running back traded adulation and a mansion in South Florida for anonymity and a $7 a night tent in Australia. His decision created a media frenzy that dismantled his reputation and branded him as America's Pothead. But while most in the media thought Williams was ruining his life by leaving football, Ricky thought he was saving it. Through personal footage recorded with Williams during his time away from football and beyond, filmmaker Sean Pamphilon takes a fresh look at a player who had become a media punching bag and has since redeemed himself as a father and a teammate.

Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
The House of Steinbrenner
star
7.50
145 votes

#17 - The House of Steinbrenner

Season 1 - Episode 22 - Aired 9/21/2010

Love them or hate them, the Yankees remain the most glorified team in American sports history. Led by the Babe, the Iron Horse, the Yankee Clipper and the Mick, they dominated baseball for more than four decades before the legendary franchise sagged under the ownership of CBS. Then in 1973, a 42-year-old shipbuilder named George Steinbrenner, a man now as iconic to his team as the pinstripes on its uniforms, headed a group that purchased the Yankees, and turned that investment into a billion-dollar business. Since 1923, the ‘House that Ruth Built’ has been the epicenter of the baseball world, and its team the biggest sports attraction in the Big Apple, inspiring generations of fans to maintain loyalties through good times and bad. But with a deteriorating facility and an eye towards 21st century style revenues, Steinbrenner was inspired to build an impressive new stadium. While the Yankees kept their Bronx address at 161st and River Avenue, the new ballpark marked the end of one grand era with the hope of launching another. Two time Oscar-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple will look at the New York Yankees as defined by George Steinbrenner’s enduring legacy, and will tell a story of how a $10-million dollar investment changed the face of not only a storied franchise, but an entire sport.

Directors: Barbara Kopple
Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?
star
7.44
241 votes

#18 - Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired 10/20/2009

In 1983 the upstart United States Football League (USFL) had the audacity to challenge the almighty NFL. The new league did the unthinkable by playing in the spring and plucked three straight Heisman Trophy winners away from the NFL. The 12-team USFL played before crowds that averaged 25,000, and started off with respectable TV ratings. But with success came expansion and new owners. This included a certain high profile and impatient real estate baron whose vision was at odds with the league's founders. Soon, the USFL was reduced to waging a desperate anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL. This yielded an ironic verdict that effectively forced the league out of business. Now, almost a quarter of a century later, Academy Award-nominated and Peabody Award-winning director Mike Tollin, himself once a chronicler of the league, will showcase the remarkable influence of those three years on football history and attempt to answer the question, "Who Killed the USFL?"

Directors: Michael Tollin
Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
The Two Escobars
star
7.42
153 votes

#19 - The Two Escobars

Season 1 - Episode 16 - Aired 6/22/2010

While rival drug cartels warred in the streets and the country’s murder rate climbed to highest in the world, the Colombian national soccer team set out to blaze a new image for their country. What followed was a mysteriously rapid rise to glory, as the team catapulted out of decades of obscurity to become one of the best teams in the world. Central to this success were two men named Escobar: Andrés, the captain and poster child of the National Team, and Pablo, the infamous drug baron who pioneered the phenomenon known in the underworld as “Narco-soccer.” But just when Colombia was expected to win the 1994 World Cup and transform its international image, the shocking murder of Andres Escobar dashed the hopes of a nation. Through the glory and the tragedy, The Two Escobars daringly investigates the secret marriage of crime and sport, and uncovers the surprising connections between the murders of Andres and Pablo.

Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
Unmatched
star
7.40
143 votes

#20 - Unmatched

Season 1 - Episode 21 - Aired 9/14/2010

The first time Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova stepped onto a tennis court together, the world scarcely noticed. Only a few hundred spectators saw the pert 18-year-old beat the scrappy 16-year-old Czech in 1973. “I remember that she was fat,” Evert recalled. “She was very emotional on the court, whining if she didn't feel she was playing well. But I remember thinking, if she loses weight, we’re all in trouble.” Said Navratilova, “My goal was for her to remember my name.” Eighty matches later – amid the extraordinary growth of women’s tennis – Evert not only remembered, but became a tried and true friend and confidante, remarkable considering the two appeared to be polar opposites in upbringing, life styles and personal relationships. Through a series of personal conversations, filmmakers Nancy Stern and Lisa Lax, along with producer Hannah Storm, will tell the story of one of the greatest one-on-one sports rivalries and capture these two extraordinary athletes’ views on tennis and an ever-changing world.

Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
June 17, 1994
star
7.39
223 votes

#21 - June 17, 1994

Season 1 - Episode 15 - Aired 6/16/2010

Do you remember where you were on June 17, 1994? Thanks to a wide array of unrelated, coast-to-coast occurrences, this Friday has come to be known for its firsts, lasts, triumphs and tragedy. Arnold Palmer played his last round at a U.S. Open, in Oakmont, Pa., the FIFA World Cup kicked off in Chicago, the Rangers celebrated on Broadway, Patrick Ewing desperately pursued a long evasive championship in the Garden and Donald Fehr stared down the baseball owners. And yet, all of that was a prelude to O.J. Simpson leading America on a slow speed chase in a white Ford Bronco around Los Angeles. Oscar-nominated and Peabody Award-winning director Brett Morgen will artistically weave these moments and others to create a unique and reflective look at a day that no sports fan could forget.

Directors: Brett Morgen
Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
Fernando Nation
star
7.35
148 votes

#22 - Fernando Nation

Season 1 - Episode 27 - Aired 10/26/2010

“The Natural is supposed to be a blue-eyed boy who teethed on a 36-ounce Louisville Slugger. He should run like the wind and throw boysenberries through brick. He should come from California." – Steve Wulf, Sports Illustrated, 1981. So how was it that a pudgy 19-year-old Mexican left-handed pitcher from a remote village in the Sonoran desert, unable to speak a word of English, could sell out stadiums across America and become a rock star overnight? In Fernando Nation, Mexican-born and Los Angeles-raised director Cruz Angeles traces the history of a community that was torn apart when Dodger Stadium was built in Chavez Ravine and then revitalized by one of the most captivating pitching phenoms baseball has ever seen. Nicknamed “El Toro” by his fans, Fernando Valenzuela ignited a fire that spread from LA to New York—and beyond. He vaulted himself onto the prime time stage and proved with his signature look to the heavens and killer screwball that the American dream was not reserved for those born on U.S. soil. In this layered look at the myth and the man, Cruz Angeles recalls the euphoria around Fernando’s arrival and probes a phenomenon that transcended baseball for many Mexican-Americans. Fernando Valenzuela himself opens up to share his perspective on this very special time. Even 20 years later, “Fernandomania” lives.

Directors: Cruz Angeles
Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
The Legend of Jimmy the Greek
star
7.20
183 votes

#23 - The Legend of Jimmy the Greek

Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired 11/10/2009

“The NFL Today” on CBS was one of the preeminent sports programs on television in the early 1980s. It was a perfect combination of reporting, analysis, predictions, humor and talent. But there was no personality on the show more popular than Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder. Born in Steubenville, Ohio, to Greek immigrants, Jimmy overcame childhood tragedy, moved to Las Vegas, and eventually became the biggest name in the world of sports handicapping. When CBS added him as an “analyst” on “The NFL Today,” “The Greek” not only further increased his stature as a sort of national folk hero, but he also gained an air of respectability never before associated with gamblers.

Directors: Fritz Mitchell
Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
Jordan Rides the Bus
star
7.18
199 votes

#24 - Jordan Rides the Bus

Season 1 - Episode 18 - Aired 8/24/2010

In the fall of 1993, in his prime and at the summit of the sports world, Michael Jordan walked away from pro basketball. After leading the Dream Team to an Olympic gold medal in 1992 and taking the Bulls to their third consecutive NBA championship the following year, Jordan was jolted by the murder of his father. Was it the brutal loss of such an anchor in his life that caused the world’s most famous athlete to rekindle a childhood ambition by playing baseball? Or some feeling that he had nothing left to prove or conquer in basketball? Or something deeper and perhaps not yet understood? Ron Shelton, a former minor leaguer who brought his experiences to life in the classic movie “Bull Durham,” will revisit Jordan’s short career in the minor leagues and explore the motivations that drove the world’s most competitive athlete to play a new sport in the relative obscurity of Birmingham, Alabama, for a young manager named Terry Francona.

Directors: Ron Shelton
Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
Muhammad and Larry
star
7.17
181 votes

#25 - Muhammad and Larry

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired 10/27/2009

In October of 1980 Muhammad Ali was preparing to fight for an unprecedented fourth heavyweight title against his friend and former sparring partner Larry Holmes. To say that the great Ali was in the twilight of his career would be generous; most of his admiring fans, friends and fight scribes considered his bravado delusional. What was left for him to prove? In the weeks of training before the fight, documentarians Albert and David Maysles took an intimate look at Ali trying to convince the world and perhaps himself, that he was still “The Greatest.” At the same time, they documented the mild-mannered and undervalued champion Holmes as he confidently prepared to put an end to the career of a man for whom he had an abiding and deep affection. In the raw moments after Ali’s humbling in this one-sided fight, it was not fully comprehended what the Maysles brothers had actually captured on film and, due to unexpected circumstances, the Maysles footage never received a public screening or airing. However, in the intervening years, the magnitude of this footage is now clear. An era ended when the braggadocio and confidence were stripped away in the ring, and the world’s greatest hero was revealed to be a man.

Directors: Albert Maysles
Watch Now:AmazonApple TV