Full Court: The Spencer Haywood Story

Northwest Connections | 2016 | 90 minutes

Stranger Says:

Haywood, a former ABA and NBA master (and Iman’s first husband), deserves to be remembered, despite having played just before the age of the basketball superstar and despite having been felled by drug problems. He also deserves a better doc than this one, which is notable mostly for the still photos of old Seattle from Haywood’s years as a ‘70s SuperSonic, and for the inspiration of hiring Chuck D to do the voice over. (SEAN NELSON)

SIFF Says:

Fresh after his induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, this compelling documentary follows NBA great Spencer Haywood’s ascent from picking cotton as a child in Silver City, Mississippi to becoming a hoops legend. Haywood’s story of overcoming extreme poverty and racism is brought to life through newspaper headlines, stylized footage, and interviews with former NBA greats including Charles Barkley, Lenny Wilkens, and former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley. His tale takes a local turn when Haywood is drafted by the SuperSonics in 1970 to begin his NBA career. But due to the existing NBA draft-eligibility rules, which required college players to wait until their class graduated before they entered the league, Spencer was barred from playing the game that meant everything to him. Haywood launched an antitrust lawsuit against the NBA with the help of then-Sonics owner Sam Schulman, a case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Martin Spirit’s film depicts the subsequent hate-infused backlash Haywood faced for defying NBA authority during a racially charged time in American history, which would lead to periods of drug abuse, depression, recovery, and ultimately, an emotional story of redemption.

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Film Credits
Martin Spirit
Spencer Haywood, Charles Barkley, Pat Riley, Lenny Wilkens, Chuck D
SIFF 2016