Beastie Boy’s basketball documentary a slam dunk

Adam Yauch admits that he would rather play basketball than watch it.

“I get real bored watching basketball on TV, real quick,” said Yauch, who comprises one-third of the Beastie Boys hip-hop trio. “I guess I get a little A.D.D.”

But when Yauch was approached to actually be a coach at an inaugural high school game in Harlem – “I don’t know anything about coaching,” he told the game’s founder, who also happened to be a friend – he got the idea to make a documentary instead. That film, “Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot,” made its world premiere at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival and will hit theaters June 27.

The film follows eight marquee high school players as they look forward to competing in the inaugural 2006 Boost Mobile Elite 24 Hoops Classic in New York City’s famed Rucker Park. What makes the game unusual compared to other similar all-star match-ups is that it’s waged outdoors, giving it a raw street feel; it’s not restricted to seniors, like the McDonald’s All American Games; and it’s also not restricted to…shoe affiliation.

In other words, which shoe brand – Nike, Reebok, etc. – the teenager is already endorsing.

“The money is insane,” Yauch said at an appearance at the Apple Store SoHo on May 2 to promote the film. “I didn’t realize how much the kids are groomed from such a young age.”

While “Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot” delves into the athletic and family lives of Jerryd Bayless, Michael Beasley (projected to be the top pick in this year’s NBA Draft), Tyreke Evans, Donte Greene, Brandon Jennings, Kevin Love, Kyle Singler and Lance Stephenson, it also dives into the history of Rucker Park (where Dr. J, Kobe Bryant and others played before they hit the big time) and the spiraling-out-of-control business that drives the sport.

The film’s greatest strength is the game footage where Yauch, who directed some of the Beastie Boys’ music videos, uses some of his favorite, familiar tricks: fisheye lenses, slo-mo rewind-and-replay action, stop motion animation and footage seemingly choreographed to the beat of an extensive soundtrack that, of course, includes one Beastie Boys song (“Bass Line Is Nice”).

The “start-and-stop” feel to the movie perfectly syncs to the typical pace in a basketball game, and the Rucker Park scenes have a 3-D quality that make the players’ dunk shots, alley-oops and other plays seem larger than life. Yauch, who finished the final edits a few days before the premiere, said that he had a number of camera operators in place to shoot the game alone, including two cameras under each basket, one guy at the top of the bleachers, one along the benches and “one to do anything he wanted.”

Yauch also gave digital video cameras to each of the players to shoot footage in their off-time, and I asked him whether any of this footage was used. (For some reason, I was the only person at the event who had seen the film.)

“A little bit,” he said of the Logitech Pocket Video 750 cameras that he distributed. “[The footage] digitally records right into the camera…making it look low-resolution on your computer like a little YouTube-sized thing.

(At this point, the moderator, ABC News Radio movie critic David Blaustein, chimed in: “You have an obsession with giving out cameras to people.”

Yauch responded: “I know. I knew someone was going to say it.”

Blaustein: “Wanna outfit the world with cameras, so people can just walk around shooting each other 24/7?”

Yauch: “Is that possible?”

Blaustein: “Sure.”

Yauch: “Let’s do it.”

Blaustein: “Let’s do it. Right now.”)

For more information about the film, go to