by shael stolberg for FILMbutton
When The Garden Was Eden is Michael Rapaport’s love letter to the 69- 73 New York Knicks teams, who played in the new Madison square gardens and, wholeheartly, captured the attention of “the city that never sleeps”.
The team had, at least, 5 basketball hall of famers, one senator, one PhD, the person many consider the best basketball coach in the history of the NBA, maybe the first sports fashionista and of course a serious eccentric and pearl.
This documentary is full of great quotable lines and stories from basketball icons like Phil Jackson, Jerry West, Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Jerry Lucas, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and many others.
The film is well balanced between interviews and historical footage and uses them both to tell the story of the 69 – 73 Knicks. One example is the very famous 1970 game when it seemed the Knicks captain, Willis Reed, would not play and because he did spurred the Knicks to victory and the world championship. The film presents a 1st person account of what Jerry West said was “the worst game I ever played” from players who were in it.
So it makes sense, due to West’s feeling of embarrassment and personal failure, that he seems a little angry when he hears that Jerry Lucas said if the Knicks had a healthy Dave DeBusschere the Knicks would have won the 1971 – 72 series. His exact words were “it’s easy for Jerry to talk but Wilt Chamberlain kicked his fanny in the series. It was our year.”
If you are a Knicks, basketball, sports or documentary fan this film is worth checking out.
Below are a few more of my favourite comments:
– Phil Jackson said about his eccentric roommate Jerry Lucas “I was happy when he went to sleep”
– It turns out Walt Frazier got his nickname “Clyde” because he wore the same hat that Warren Beatty did in Bonnie and Clyde. He was the leading fashionista on the extremely fashion savvy team except for Bill Bradley. It seems, according to Captain Willis Reed, that Dick Barnett had the job to try to keep Bradley in fashion and gave up in a couple of months.
– When the quintessential Knick loving New Yorker, the director, Michael Rapaport tells some of the previous Knick players which included Walt “Clyde” Frazier that he believes Bill Russell is the most overrated basketball player the responses were comments like Bill Russell was the greatest player to ever play the game to calling him out on his basketball knowledge for saying something so ridiculous.
Will end this with what opponent and Hall of Famer Jerry West said of the team “It was fun to watch them play because they did not play as individuals they played as a team”. Something the Knicks of today should probably take more to heart, and might have to since Phil Jackson has come back into the fold.
Remaining Screening: 2:30 PM – SAT 4/26 TRIBECA CINEMAS THEATER 2
For more about the film please visit TFF film guide