Commentary

ESPN Films: 'The Announcement'

Updated: March 9, 2012, 5:03 PM ET
By Staff | ESPN.com

FILM SUMMARY

ESPN Films

What if I told you a movie could change the way you look at sports? From the producers of 30 for 30, ESPN Films presents a new series. ESPN Films index »

On Thursday, Nov. 7, 1991, Earvin "Magic" Johnson made people stop and watch at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. But this time it wasn't his basketball brilliance as a perennial NBA All-Star and three-time MVP that was captivating audiences worldwide. Instead, the 32-year-old groundbreaking point guard was holding a press conference to make the stunning announcement that he was HIV-positive and would be retiring from basketball immediately. But the shock of this declaration went deeper. Having the AIDS virus in 1991 was widely seen as a death sentence, and the commonly held belief was that we would be watching a beloved sports hero die excruciatingly and swiftly in front of our eyes. Yet Magic had a different narrative in mind. He defied the odds, not just surviving, but truly living and prospering. From his MVP performance in the 1992 NBA All-Star Game, his participation on the original Olympic "Dream Team" later that year and an NBA comeback in 1996, to his astounding success as a businessman, philanthropist and ambassador in the fight against AIDS, Magic has lived up to the promise of his nickname.

In "The Announcement," Nelson George and NBA Entertainment get to the core of this incredible personal journey and explore how he continues to thrive two decades later.

MEET THE DIRECTOR

[+] EnlargeNelson George
Jelena Nelson George teamed up with NBA Entertainment to document Magic's incredible story.

Nelson George is a filmmaker, author and historian who specializes in stories highlighting the African-American experience. His current novel, "The Plot Against Hip Hop," was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. His nonfiction books include the award-winning music histories "The Death of Rhythm & Blues" and "Hip Hop America," as well as the memoir "City Kid." George directed and co-wrote the HBO film "Life Support," for which Queen Latifah won a Golden Globe. Previous screenplays were for "CB4," which starred Chris Rock, and "Strictly Business," with Halle Berry in the lead. He has served as executive producer for VH1's "Hip Hop Honors," BET's "American Gangster, VH1 Soul's "Soul Cities." He also produced the Sundance Film Festival jury prizewinner "Good Hair," which was hosted by Chris Rock. "Brooklyn Boheme," a film he hosts, wrote and co-directed, debuts on Showtime in February. He can be contacted at www.nelsondgeorge.net.

MEET THE CO-DIRECTOR

NBA Entertainment (NBAE) is one of the largest suppliers of sports television and digital programming in the world, managing television, film, photos, PSAs, promotional campaigns and marketing partnerships, as well as producing events domestically and internationally for the NBA, WNBA and NBA Development League.

NBAE was founded in 1982 as the definitive visual archive of the NBA's history, and its growth can be attributed to a simple philosophy: tell compelling stories about the game of pro basketball and the people it touches. That storytelling mission has been carried out through a variety of short and long-form programming, including acclaimed documentaries. "Once Brothers," produced as part of the Peabody Award-winning ESPN Films "30 for 30" series, depicts the story of Vlade Divac and the late Drazen Petrovic, former Yugoslavian national teammates who saw politics destroy their friendship; the Emmy Award-winning documentary "Whatever Happened to Micheal Ray" covers the dramatic rise, fall and resurrection of the former Knicks and Nets star. Emmy-nominated titles include "Road to Redemption," following the quest of the 2008 U.S. men's national team to reclaim Olympic gold; and "Manute Bol: Basketball Warrior," about one man's unique basketball journey from Sudan to the NBA.

Unprecedented access to the game and its players also provides NBAE unique contemporary storytelling opportunities, including such titles as "Kevin Garnett: KG"; "Undeniable: The Rise of Dwyane Wade"; and the multi-episode all-access series, "The Association."

NBAE has enjoyed a successful history of working in the film and entertainment industry, enlisting a roster of renowned artists as narrators for its programs and documentaries: Academy Award winners Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker; Academy Award nominees Samuel L. Jackson, Andy Garcia, Terrence Howard and Djimon Hounsou; and Grammy Award winners Justin Timberlake and Chris Rock.