Top 7 is misleading, as there were only seven episodes total. Still, 30 For 30 is the best thing ESPN has ever done. Seven documentaries, only two clunkers. Here they are, from best to worst.
1. The U
Stylewise, this reminded me of another fantastic documentary on Miami, Cocaine Cowboys. Sure enough, they are directed by the same person, Billy Corben. The rise of Miami from college football also-rans to contenders to arrogant champions is quite amazing, and makes a great story. I've always hated Miami, but The U makes me realize I'd rather have heels like Miami around than not have them at all.
2. Small Potatoes: Who Killed The USFL
I remember just enough about the USFL to recognize its teams and stars. I didn't realize the influence it had on today's NFL. Instant replay and two-point conversions being the two most obvious.
3. Muhammed And Larry
A documentary on Ali's legendary fights would been easy and redundant. This documentary focuses on the hard-to-watch end of the Ali legend, and my emotions were all over the place. Happiness at just seeing Ali. Sadness at seeing his decline. Anger at the people who allowed this fight to happen. When I was a little kid, I (and a lot of other people) hated Larry Holmes because of this fight. After watching this, I realize that Holmes was a good man and a great fighter, and shouldn't have been punished by other people's greedy decisions.
4. The Band That Wouldn't Die
Documents the exit (and return) of NFL football in Baltimore through the view of the Baltimore Colts Band, who did not move to Indy, did not disband, and vowed to continue playing until the NFL returned to Baltimore.
5. Without Bias
Explores the ramifications of the Len Bias overdose. From drug testing to a wholesale expansion of federal drug laws, the impact of Bias' death extended far beyond his family and friends.
6. The Legend Of Jimmy The Greek
This was the first 30 For 30 I didn't care for. There's an interesting story here, but the way the director chose to tell it, with a Jimmy The Greek's impersonator doing the narration from a first-person perspective, was a bad decision I could never quite get past. Still, loved the archival NFL Today footage.
7. King's Ransom
The story of Wayne Gretzky being traded from Edmonton to Los Angeles is documentary worthy, even to a non-hockey fan like myself. But this just didn't work. Why is director Peter Berg playing golf with Gretzky? Why is Berg, who I kept getting confused with Kevin Dillon from Entourage, in the movie at all? Does he have a crush on Gretzky? The Chris Farley Show had harder-hitting interviews. Berg here did more non-interview filming than probably any other director in the series, and most of it is meaningless and cheesy. For instance, the opening scene of Gretzky's luxury SUV being driven into a gigantic garage. Yeah, that happened.