Long Gone Summer (ESPN DOCs 2018-2020)
Wednesday 29 July at 18:30 CAT on ESPN
Few seasons in recent memory captured the attention of baseball fans in America like 1998, when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa embarked on a chase for the single-season home run record of 61 that was set by Roger Maris 37 years prior.
ESPN’s new 30 for 30 film “Long Gone Summer,” looks back at the twists and turns of the 1998 season – its exhilarating highlights, massive impact and lasting complications — including in-depth interviews with McGwire and Sosa talking at length for the first time in more than two decades.
Entering the season, the sport was still stinging from the labor battles that had cut the 1994 campaign short and forced the cancellation of the World Series. But when McGwire, who had hit 58 home runs in 1997, got off to a torrid start in ’98, and was joined on the home run leaderboard that June by the red-hot Sosa, the country became enthralled, desperate for updates. The race for 61 was on.
Both players would shatter the mark, with McGwire reaching 70 homers on the last weekend of the season. But when the rampant use of performance-enhancing drugs throughout the game came to light in the years that followed, the thrill was gone. Or was it? The PEDs might have cheapened the accomplishment, but the excitement at the time of the chase was real and undeniable.
LANCE (part 1) (ESPN DOCs 2018-2020)
Thursday 30 July at 18:00 CAT on ESPN
The man on a bike in a yellow jersey became way more than that, more than just the very best athlete in his sport. Lance Armstrong was a symbol of inspiration to cancer patients in hospitals and oncology centers. Those patients saw him pedaling with ferocity, and he kindled in them a burning hope. He won the Tour de France seven times in a row before retiring at the age of 33. He was a force on the bike and a movement off it.
Eventually, however, the truth caught up to him. For a man who had little practice at defeat, it was all over. His confession that he cheated was a gut punch for fans who revered the athlete, the man, the symbol.
The Decision: Backstory (ESPN DOCs 2018-2020)
Friday 31 July at 18:00 CAT on ESPN
‘Backstory: The Decision’ will go behind-the-scenes of the television special, The Decision, during which LeBron James, now 34, announced he’d be leaving his hometown to play with the Miami Heat. It explores the background of sports controversies and looks at the “far-reaching consequences” of James’ TV stunt.
James, who now plays for the Los Angeles Lakers — gave a televised interview in 2010 on ESPN, during which he announced he was leaving Cleveland and “taking [his] talents to South Beach” to join Dwyane Wade and the Heat. He would go on to win two consecutive championships with the Heat in 2012 and 2013.
ESPN Classic Boxing, Ringside – Ali King of the World (part 1)
Saturday 1 August at 18:00 CAT on ESPN
ESPN Classic’s Ringside is a 2-to-6-hour special that brings viewers original footage of classic fights, interspersed with added context, perspective, stories and analysis from some of the most notable personalities in boxing.
Hosted by ESPN’s Brian Kenny and venerable writer and historian Bert Randolph Sugar, the original Ringside segments are filmed on location from the legendary Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn where Muhammad Ali, Jake LaMotta, Roberto Duran and many others have trained.
Wednesday 29 July at 18:15 CAT on ESPN2
NBA Countdown which is led by host Maria Taylor features analysts Paul Pierce, Jalen Rose, Jay Williams and ESPN Senior NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, and will include special guest interviews and live reports from the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla – home of the NBA season. The show will emanate from ESPN studios with Wojnarowski reporting from Lake Buena Vista.
The show will preview the restart of the season and the NBA seeding games, while also discussing news from around the league since the March 11 season stoppage. Additionally, the NBA Countdown team will examine the current climate in the sport amidst the social justice movement and how the NBA, NBPA and NBA player leadership is responding.