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Wednesday, April 25, 2001

Champions revealed

Posted By on Wed, Apr 25, 2001 at 12:00 AM

Dual layering and multiple camera angles aren’t the most precious supplements on a DVD — especially when examining the heart of the NBA. Sure, a treasure trove of applications may spark — like Jordan firing from the three-point mark, viewable in wide, close-up and aerial shots. Or a virgin to DVD technology might think dual layering is the equivalent to a complex calculus equation, complete with hours of substantial content.

The definitive tagline, Greatest NBA Finals Moments, will hardly cause you to break a sweat. Partially because of overzealous case design, one of USA Entertainment’s first forays into archiving sports on DVD is unsound to say the least.

Additions such as a 12-page reference manual will probably only entice hard-core basketball fanatics. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Larry Bird, Julius Erving, Billy Cunningham and Wilt Chamberlain — indeed, all their NBA finals statistics are available for pleasure-seekers, from on-court time to total assists. Then a text-bound supplement, outlining the NBA’s 50 greatest players, offers more zest for fact-seekers, minus window dressing. Even a lame, ill-conceived music video finds a home on this disc — obviously, an attempt to sway consumers with quantity over sheer quality.

Your minutes would be best spent viewing the feature presentation, complete with a focused history of the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, among other prime cuts. Just breaching the hour-long barrier, the documentary is both informative and edited with a slick, MTV-branding. Fast cuts and perceptive sound bites by Celtic Bill Russell and other great athletes keep the pacing lively, but never manage to defy convention.

For viewers lacking b-ball knowledge, this DVD is structured in an inviting manner. But for champions of the sport, it only serves as a locker-room recap, merely refreshing past memories. If you’re lucky, a few new factoids may even be retained.

Jon M. Gibson investigates the triumphs — and pitfalls — of games and other technological poundcakes. E-mail him at


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