Survive and Advance is a documentary that was released as part of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. I can’t get enough of the 30 for 30 documentaries. There are so many great stories in sports, and it seems like ESPN is out to cover them all. This documentary is about the 1983 NC State Wolfpack winning nine elimination games in a row on their way to capturing the national championship in a spectacular upset. Derek Whittenberg threw up a shot in the closing seconds out of pure desperation. The ball was a little bit offline, but Lorenzo Charles was there to snatch the ball out of the air and slam it through the net with a second left on the clock. It was a great play to end the game, and it was further immortalized when coach Jim Valvano ran out onto the court in celebration and couldn’t find anybody to hug. Even non-sports fans can appreciate an underdog story, and it doesn’t get much more underdog than this.
Director Jonathan Hock does a marvelous job introducing up to the NC State Wolfpack players and their charismatic coach. Jim Valvano seemed more like an entertainer than a coach, but he had the skills and vision to lead the Wolfpack to an unlikely victory. And then another one. And another one. And even more after that. The Wolfpack survived nine elimination games, seven of which they were losing with a minute left to play. They were able to beat the top ranked college teams, defeating legendary players like Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, Clyde Drexler, and Akeem Olajuwon. Check it out if you can. It’s inspirational, motivational, and well worth watching.
Critically Rated at 13/17
Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young