Gunnin' For That #1 Spot

When this site's domain registration expired it disappeared from the web. The new owners of the domain, basketball fans, obviously, did not want this movie to disappear from the web. OK, so it's not quite as searching as Hoop Dreams, but it's hugely enjoyable all the same and boasts - as you'd expect - a terrific soundtrack. The slow-motion footage of these athletes showing off their macho skills is generously underpinned by rumbling hip-hop.
Content from the site's 2008b archived pages, as well as from other outside sources.

 

 

Synopsis

On the corner of 155th and Frederick Douglas Boulevard in Harlem lies Rucker Park. By appearances, the concrete pavement, anchored on one side by its run down slab bleachers, is no different than any other basketball court in the city, but this is the place where nicknames are indelibly branded, and legends are born.

On September 1, 2006, the top 24 high school basketball players in the nation stepped out on this court, that once saw the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Dr. J to compete in the first annual Elite 24 all-star game. GUNNIN FOR THAT #1 SPOT follows eight of these players as they prepare to showcase their skills at the most legendary playground in the world.

Directed by Adam Yauch (MCA of the Beastie Boys and director of Awesome; I F***ing Shot That!"), the documentary trails these players on the fast track to the NBA, as they are being groomed to be in the spotlight of a multi-million dollar game. Combining Yauchs unique directing style with raw hip hop music, GUNNIN’ highlights these soon to be NBA All Stars.

 



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AN ASIDE: Don't fret if you missed Gunnin' For That #1 Spot when it first came out more than a decade ago. You can still catch it on Amazon Prime for free or rent it or buy it in HD.

One Amazon Prime reviewer said: If you're a basketball fan you'll love this doc, I'm a basketball addict so obviously I'm going to give this doc 5 stars! Love seeing these players when they were just kids 11 years later.
Kevin Love and Tyreke Evans are now multi-millionaires many times over. Tyreke Evans-as of 2019-is probably the most talented out of this group and is probably in his prime right now, but 2014 Kevin Love was an absolute beast.
Funny how the most cockiest players in the documentary are now probably the most mediocre, but the humble and hard working ones had the greatest professional careers (eg Tyreke).
I think millennial players that come out in the social media now are a lot more humble and chill-where in 2008-was the end of an era where kids where getting away with getting free shit, partying and girl chasing. Kids now a days are a lot more sheltered and chill in my opinion. Now millennial prep all-stars are under the microscope and are way more media savvy.
Anyways, great doc, soundtrack and insight on what it was like to be a top prep hoop player in 2008.

I can't agree more. I did see the documentary when it first came out. Critics gave it mixed reviews, but I loved it  The production values were done on the cheap and never gave a full character study since the film tried to cover a lot of ground, but it was an interesting to look at the world of elite prep basketball players and to get a glimpse of a few of them before they reached the professional level. I recently watched the documentary again on Amazon Prime to see how well it aged. The soundtrack is still great. It's pretty incredible where Kevin Love  and Tyreke Evans ended up.  Kevin Love became an American professional basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association. He is a five-time All-Star and won an NBA championship with the Cavaliers in 2016!!  Unfortunately the team is not doing so well this season. Tyreke Evans went on to win the 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year Award. He had a great 2017 - 2018 season. Of course these guys are the exception rather than the rule. They made it to the big time, while so many others fell to the wayside.

I certainly don't want to compare my life's trajectory to these two super stars. They had their goals, I have mine. Once basketball professionally was a dream, but a ski accident ended that with a busted knee, ACL ripped apart, etc. So I changed course and became a coder for online games and create e commerce websites for clients. Just finished working on one, Eyeglasses.com, that sells women and mens glasses frames. Their selection of frames is staggering. Eyeglasses.com also have a section on the site where customers can order prescription replacement lens. I can vouch for their product since I now use them to get my prescription glasses. I'm my own boss and love what I am doing, but I only live basketball vicariously now. My home team, the Celtics are doing well this year, but man, the Milwaukee Bucks are killing it in the Eastern Conference. Not even the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference have had as many wins. Check out the Rotten Tomatoes reviews below when the movie was first released.

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RottenTomatoes AUDIENCE REVIEWS FOR GUNNIN' FOR THAT #1 SPOT

 

**** ½Private U
Jul 20, 2008
Excellent work! REALLY enjoyed Bobbito's nicknames.

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*** ½ Dan T
Jul 10, 2008
MCA didn't let us down. This has some good footage of Kyle Singler and Kevin Love when they were still in high school in Oregon. Also Jerryd Bayless, newly recrouted Blazer tears it up a bit. I thought Yauch would bring a more ecclectic soundtrack, but it's still good with a lot of old East Coast hip hop standards. Opens up with Hate it or Love it, which goes well. Noticed he threw some Root Down in there as well.

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*** ½ John F
Jul 07, 2008
Although I'm not a fan of basketball (but a huge fan of Adam Yauch and The Bestie Boys) I found this documentary enjoyable, interesting, and well shot. The story works as a mini-expose on the practices of promoting kids as young as fifth grade, a bit sick, yes.

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**** Theresa H
Jun 27, 2008
Great movie if you are into basketball...which I am. The timing of the release was classic because I saw it the day before the NBA draft and several of the guys in the movie got drafted.

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*** ½ Greg M
Jun 17, 2008
Pretty cool... a different approach to your typical up-and-comer basketball movie... GREAT SOUNDTRACK!

 

** ½ matt s
Dec 19, 2008
Having just seen Hoop Dreams, this film doesn't compare. I mean it's Hoop Dreams - ultra light, with 10 kids, instead of 2. And the thing is, this film could've been captivating, focusing on how those guys are trying to FIFTH graders to choose a school and a brand of sneakers. But it's in the hands of Adam Yauch, the Beastie Boy, who makes a commendable effort, but doesn't realize the fast-forward and slow-motion camera tricks are really fucking outdated. It's frustrating. Watch the movie expecting it to be about the rucker park game, you'll be all right. Watch the movie expecting anything else, you might ask yourself why you didn't just settle cozying up for another hour and enjoying a good film like Hoop Dreams.

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** ½ Aug 12, 2009
"Gunnin' for That #1 Spot" is a haphazardly constructed documentary centering on the Elite 24 game in 2006, a glorified all-star game featuring the best high school basketball players in the country, held in Rucker Park in Harlem, site of many legendary amateur games in the past. Occasionally, there is a bit of insight from talking heads about the state of high school basketball and what these athletes can expect to experience in upcoming years as they hope to eventually play in the NBA.(For example, Tyreke Evans was drafted by the Sacramento Kings as the fourth pick in the most recent NBA draft.) The dream has not changed in decades, even if agents and shoe companies have become involved with the basketball players when they are much younger. Sadly, there is nothing here about basketball players no longer being able to make the jump directly from high school to the pros. Almost half the documentary is spent on the personal histories of eight of the basketball players, nothing of which is memorable(In other words, there is nothing along the lines of a double amputee supporting her twelve children by working three jobs.), despite their diverse backgrounds. And remember when filming sporting events, keep it simple. Let the athletes do the talking with their play.

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*** ½ James B
SUPER REVIEWER
Dec 11, 2008
Pretty cool documentary about some young basketball players trying to show their worth before going into college. Directed by Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys.

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**** Shin F
Nov 27, 2008
This movie was pretty sweet. It's got one of the sickest soundtracks out there, and the editing is pretty cutting edge. DVD comes with a lot of extras too.

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***** Allan B
Nov 22, 2008
When I read New York Magazine's recommendation of Gunnin' as their top pick of the 300+ flicks at TriBeCa Film Festival, I took a couple days off from work just to check it out. It turned out to be a magical trip. The audience at Tribeca talked to the screen the way any good congregation does on a Sunday morning. Neal Usatin, the film’s lead editor, got a particularly good reception when his credit floated on a ball across the screen. (Makes me think I should keep my eyes on his work.) I loved it so much I went back to NYC for its theatrical premier, just down the street from the Rucker in Harlem, to see how it had been tweaked. And I'm not even a basketball fan. This film fits the way I think. It's fast, and like good comedic timing, presents the player's stories in a way that left me wanting more -- if I'm interested, I'll look it up. The imagery goes from Redacted-style website searches, to fisheye trips over and through NYC, VHS-quality home video, to YouTube footage and HD slow-mo. It's like every photographic and film experiment ever discovered, sampled and flashed before my eyes. On that level, it's like the ultimate style collage. I bought an educational license and showed it to my high school varsity basketball team. They rolled at Bobbito's nicknames (Shampoo!) the way only those who live it know how it sounds. In fact, they loved the soundtrack so much, I'm buying a copy so they can warm-up to it. The stand-outs in my book are the bird's-eye, fisheye tour of New York to the smooth sounds of “Let's Do it Again” (on loop). The lens makes Manhattan seem like it's half the world. I love chapter 16's fisheye tour at ground-level; especially when the beat hits on the pigeon and taxi moving in opposite directions. Chapters like this in a movie make for perfect party background pieces. I show them to my friends who don't have time to see the whole movie, but know a good visual over a beat. You could rent it, but this is also a great example of the artistry of packaging. It's a stand-out example of graphic design gone fine art. From the paper and ink choices, to the colors and the trading cards. (Would have been cooler if they'd been actual cards. Maybe an add-on purchase soon?), this is one of those instant classics that deserves to be in any film-lovers permanent collection.

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*** ½ Aaron G
Nov 14, 2008
Fun to see guys like Mke Beasley, Kevin Love, Donte Green before they were, but only recommended if you're a huge hoops nerds (as I am). Otherwise, stick with the legendary "Hoop Dreams," a much better crafted, more interesting doc.

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*** Pat S
Oct 14, 2008
i like basketball, there is something wonderful about the ebb and flow of the game that is engrossing. it is a game where there are moments of magic where talent defies logic. it is also a game of mondo bucks for the big stars. this is a documentary of some of the next generation of stars. there is little tension in the documentary as it seems to be going nowhere. it is about playing in the elite 24 game that took place in rucker park. so 8 players are highlighted, we get a little bit about them, we get the game and that is it. very watchable, but as it goes on you realise that there is nothing much at stake in the film, because you realise that this isn't going to follow the players after the game. there are a few attempts to point out that there is too much pressure on the kids to get involved with sponsorship, that there are lots of "amateurs" involved with creating "star quality" around the players. none of the players were particulary appealing, but with 8 of them to cope with it is hard to get under their skins. it would have been better to have focused in on one or two of the players rather than trying to get us to care about 8 of them. there are some nice touches such as the trading card motif that is used to introduce the players, some nice camera angles. the sound track is as expected. it would have benefitted from better sound in some places so we could hear what they were saying. it would have also benefited from not having i could have done without the annoying mc at the game. he had that mix of thinking he was both funnier and cleverer than he really was. all in all enjoyable but only for fans of bball.

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** ½ Mike M
Oct 04, 2008
Doesn't lack for energy: Yauch here expands the mix-and-match style of his directorial debut, the shot-by-fans concert film "Awesome!" to include onscreen web searches, YouTube clips and cameraphone footage of spectacular dunks; imaginative fish-eye photography turns the world into one giant ball. What Yauch hasn't grasped - and what relegates "Gunnin'" to fans-only status - is what those who tried, and failed, to get basketball a foothold in the UK discovered long ago: the game - one rolling, end-to-end sneaker promotion - isn't especially compelling in itself. Tracking eight different subjects on and off court doesn't allow the film any time to address the issues raised over the 90 minutes, while the final game proves a farce and a dud, two teams of offensively-minded players racking up ridiculous scores while the world's most annoying commentator witters away on the soundtrack. It's something like a radio edit of 1994's still-essential "Hoop Dreams", retaining the basketball hook, but losing almost all of what was complex and rewarding about the original.

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*** ½ Trent H
Jul 23, 2008
A small documentary about a newly developed All Star basketball game featuring the famous Rucker Park along with the nation's top college prospects, goes into focus on eight of the players. This is a fast paced film by Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boy, and he gives this movie the proper tone and intentions. Going into the film I initially thought he was going to go deep into these players' personal lives on a strong emotional level by highlighting their struggles and not expecting it to be so much about the

 



 

ADAM YAUCH 
DIRECTOR/PRODUCER

Yauchs interest in film and photography began while growing up in Brooklyn, NY. He started out with photography in elementary school by setting up a black and white dark room in his home, with some old dark room equipment his cousin was throwing away.  By high school he was experimenting with shooting and editing super 8. He made his first film at age 16, which was projected during shows behind his fledgling band, Beastie Boys.

Yauch has directed the majority of the band’s videos including Shadrach (1989, one of Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Videos of All Time), So What’cha Want (1992), Intergalactic (1998, winner of The Billboard Music Award’s best clip in 1998, The European Music Awards Best Video in 1998 and MTV’s Best Hip Hop Video in 1999) and Ch-Ch-Check it Out (2004). The Beastie Boys were honored with 1998’s Video Vanguard award, MTV’s highest honor.

He put together the Beastie Boys Video Anthology DVD, released by the Criterion Collection, the first of its kind to ever really take advantage of the breadth of the DVD format.

Yauch directed AWESOME; I FUCKIN SHOT THAT! a documentary feature film of a concert shot by audience members which premiered at Sundance 2006 and was distributed by THINKFilm.

 

Jerryd Bayless

St. Mary’s High School, Phoenix, AZ

Current Stats: UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA 
Age: 19 
Height: 6 ft 3 in 
Weight: 193 pounds

In High School, Bayless averaged 37.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 3.2 steals per game to earn Big Schools Player of the Year honors from The Arizona Republic as well as the Republics All-Arizona Team selection four consecutive years (2004-2007) . He might be listed as a point guard, but he’s also a dominant scorer. The lightning-quick Bayless brings the ball up the court and usually puts it in the basket as well.  After a standout freshman year, Jerryd declared his eligibility for the 2008 NBA Draft and is expected to be a lottery pick.

 

Michael Beasley

Notre Dame Preparatory School, Fitchburg, MA

Current Stats: KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY 
Age: 19 
Height: 6 ft 9 in 
Weight: 235 pounds

With his filthy combination of size and athleticism, Beasley is arguably the most versatile player in the country. Best known for his ability to take it to the rack for breathtaking dunks, Beasleys dangerous post game and picturesque left-handed jumper make him a threat to score every time he has the ball.  He was named first-team All-American by the Associated Press and is expected to be the #1 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. 

 

Tyreke Evans

American Christian High School, Chester, PA

Current Stats: AMERICAN CHRISTIAN HIGH SCHOOL, CHESTER, PA 
Age: 18 
Height: 6 ft 5 in 
Weight: 205 pounds

Averaging in high school 25.4 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.0 assists, this versatile guard is one of the smoothest players in the country. Even when hes dominating games with coast-to-coast drives and beautiful no-look passes, hes barely breaking a sweat. Evans has an extraordinarily quick first step and can get to the basket any time he wants to. Evans always finds the open man and is a solid rebounder for a guard. Tyreke was named the MVP of the 2008 McDonalds All American Game.  He has declared his allegiance to the University of Memphis for the Fall of 2008.

 

Donte Greene

Towson Catholic High School, Baltimore, MD

Current Stats: SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY 
Age: 19 
Height: 6 ft 11 in 
Weight: 226 pounds

Greene is an excellent 3-point shooter, who can force big men onto the perimeter to guard him. Once there, Greene is in control. He can fire away with near-automatic precision from behind the arc or he can use his quickness to get to the rim. He is also an outstanding rebounder and shot-blocker.  Greene is expected to be a lottery pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.

 

Brandon Jennings

Oak Hill Academy, Mouth Of Wilson, VA

Current Stats: OAK HILL ACADEMY, MOUTH OF WILSON, VA 
Age: 18 
Height: 6 ft 2 in 
Weight: 165 pounds

Jennings averaged 19 points per game his sophomore year for Dominguez High School in Compton, Calif. and led his team to the Southern Section Division IIAA semifinals. Jennings, who transferred to Oak Hill for his junior season, is one of the nations best point guards, regardless of class. Hes exciting to watch in the open floor with his speed, tremendous vision and perfect alley-oop lobs to teammates. His nasty handle allows him to get into the lane against most defenders, who also have to respect his 3-point range.  His senior year, Brandon was named the Naismith High School Player of the Year.  Jennings has committed to University of Arizona for the Fall.

 

Kevin Love

Lake Oswego High School, Lake Oswego, OR

Current Stats: UCLA 
Age: 19 
Height: 6 ft 10 in 
Weight: 260 pounds

Love averaged 17.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game his freshman year at UCLA. He dominates the competition with an incredible post game, great footwork and old-school fundamentals. His post up is excellent and allows him to seal off his defender for an easy bucket or a trip to the charity stripe. Defenders must also respect Loves shooting range, which extends to 3-point land.  Kevin was named AP first-team All American and is expected to be amongst the top ten picks in the 2008 NBA Draft.

 

Lance Stephenson

Abraham Lincoln High School, Brooklyn, NY

Current Stats: ABRAHAM LINCOLN HIGH SCHOOL, BROOKLYN, NY
Age: 17 
Height: 6 ft 5 in 
Weight: 200 pounds

Stephenson might only be a finishing up his junior year, but hes already considered New Yorks next great guard.  Lance recently lead Lincoln to their third straight PSAL NYC title, the first time in NYC history. He is a scorer with great range on his jumper and the ability to take it to the hole, but he also has the vision, ball-handling skills and passing ability to one day become a big point guard.  Lance will be a high school senior in the Fall.

 

Kyle Singler

South Medford High School, Medford, Oregon

Current Stats: DUKE UNIVERSITY 
Age: 19 
Height: 6 ft 8 in 
Weight: 220 pounds

Singler is a versatile wingman who can shoot from the outside, post up smaller players on the block and is one of the top passers in his class. He is also an aggressive rebounder and a solid defender.  Singler will return to Duke for the 2008-9 season, his sophomore year.

 

Advance review from Time Out NY

TIME OUT NEW YORK
5 star review
Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot

Dir. Adam Yauch. 2008. PG-13. 97mins. Documentary.

Ask any studio exec, and they’ll tell you that summer action heroes require gadgets and special effects. Will Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot—which looks like it was made for a buck fitty—toss that conventional wisdom in the trash? Hopefully so, and from the three-point line. The two-dozen high-school basketballers assembled in this stupefyingly enjoyable doc are the future Iron Men of the NBA. (Many are already college stars.) Shot from below, they float majestically in slo-mo, shatter backboards and inspire fierce recruitment efforts from sneaker companies and schools. On a summer day in 2006, the boys are shipped in from Compton, Baltimore, even Whiteboy, Oregon, to play an outdoor game in Harlem. Things will never be this innocent again.

On hand to shoot this “Elite 24” showdown was Adam Yauch, better known as a Beastie Boy. It may be time to start taking Yauch seriously as a filmmaker and not just the “Body Movin’” guy. In merely two features (this and 2006’s anti-auteurist Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That!) he seems to grasp documentary concepts that elude many pros. His five-boroughs pride results in a strong sense of place, with testimonials about Harlem’s historic Rucker Park given the same weight as the gamesmanship. Both movies are extremely social and communal, suggesting the polyglot spirit that is the city’s most beautiful contribution to the world. And Yauch’s ear for music and rhythm is slammin’; this is easily the year’s best soundtrack, with room for M.I.A. and the Staple Singers alike. As a sports film, it doesn’t dig as deep as Hoop Dreams, but Gunnin’will surely prove as inspiring. —Joshua Rothkopf

Posted onJune 24, 2008 at 5:20 PM

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