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BTD’s Staff Sports Favorites: Movies, Books, Athletes & More

We had some fun for this one. Our staff’s favorite sports-related superlatives.

Indiana Pacers v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Favorite Documentary

Terry Fox Marathon of Hope
Terry Fox is revered as one of Canada’s greatest sports heroes.
Erin Combs/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The_Coach: Into The Wind - Imagine the hardest physical feat you could do in North America. Some would say it’s an act such as running shore-to-shore, which is exactly what Canadian Terry Fox did back in 1980 in his “Marathon of Hope”, a cross-country fundraiser for cancer research. The key catalyst in Fox’s story though is that while he was running, he was fighting his own battle with cancer, which had already forced one of his legs to be amputated.

If the Beavers win the College World Series, I say we make John hike Siula Grande.
Photo by PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP via Getty Images

John: Touching the Void - There’s a lot of great mountaineering documentaries, but Touching the Void is my favorite. The film covers the 1985 ascent of the West Face of Peru’s Siula Grande by Joe Simpson and Simon Yates. That route had never been successfully climbed before, and while Simpson and Yates manage the ascent without much problem, the descent quickly turns into a disaster. In addition to being a harrowing tale of survival, the film is also an amazing exploration of grief, forgiveness and friendship. It also features the best use of Boney M. in any form of pop culture.

The 2018 ESPYS
Two pretty good quarterbacks in two pretty snazzy suits.
Photo by David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Ross: Elway to Marino - Elway to Marino encapsulates what makes the NFL Draft a truly awesome event. This documentary follows the events of the 1983 NFL Draft and the sheer insanity that arose in the quarterback chase. That 1983 draft saw six QB’s be drafted in the first round, with three of those players being enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame. I love being able to learn about the beginnings of some of the greatest players in NFL history, including guys like Dan Marino, John Elway, and Jim Kelly. It’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the NFL Draft process.

Michael. Scottie. And the star of “The Last Dance”, Toni Kukoc.
Photo credit should read VINCENT LAFORET/AFP via Getty Images

Marcus: The Last Dance - Maybe there’s recency bias here. But Michael Jordan is involved and it’s awesome. Just a delightful behind the scenes look at the Bulls 1997-98 NBA season.

Favorite Movie

1966 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championships
Don Haskins led Texas Western to the 1966 National Championship.
Photo by Rich Clarkson/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The_Coach: Glory Road - I’m sure most people know the story by now, but if not, Glory Road is the tale of the 1965-1966 Texas Western College basketball team, who boasted the first all-black starting lineup in the history of college basketball in the most important of games on their season slate, the National Championship. Yet, their story is not about one game, but instead a season of racial tensions, adversity, hardships and finding the definition of a true team. It’s a wild ride of a movie that brings forth a triumphant finish.

Jamaican Bobsledding Team Racing
Feel the Rhythm! Feel the Rhyme! Get on up, it’s bobsled time!
Photo by © Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

John: Cool Runnings - Even by people who like it, Cool Runnings tends to get lumped in with the other Disney nineties sports comedies like Mighty Ducks or Angels in the Outfield, but its a much more interesting movie. There are other sports movies where the heroes don’t win in the end, but usually even in defeat their victorious. Rocky is still regarded as a hero just for going the distance against Apollo Creed, for example. But the failure of the Jamaican Bobsled Team in Cool Runnings is different. The Jamaicans fail hard, but pick themselves up and keep going forward. Its a movie about your dreams not coming true, and how that’s ok. You can come up with a new dream. Also one of John Candy’s best performances.

Ross: Rudy - Not a super typical sports choice (and not entirely real-life accurate), but Rudy is an immensely inspiring, feel-good movie. Mostly everyone and their mothers have seen this movie and have at least one moment in their heads that stick with them about this movie (“He’s so little!!!”). Rudy’s story makes you feel great to see someone overcome expectations to live his dream. I still get teared up every time he gets accepted to Notre Dame...

Syndication: Livonia
Pictured here is Herman Boone, the real head football coach of T.C. Williams High School, portrayed in the movie “Remember the Titans”.
USA Today, via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Marcus: Remember the Titans - Still holds up as the best sports movie out there in my opinion. Denzel Washington is fantastic. I still get chills when the defensive coach, Bill Yoast, (former head coach) tells his players “All right, now, I don’t want them to gain *another yard!* * You blitz... all... night!* If they cross the line of scrimmage, I’m gonna take every last one of you out! You make sure they remember, *forever*, the night they played the Titans!”.

Favorite Book

2010 Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend
In 20019, Don Meyer was presented with the Jimmy V Award For Perseverance.
Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The_Coach: How Lucky You Can Be: The Story Of Coach Don Meyer by Buster Olney - Don Meyer is a basketball coaching legend, who guided Lipscomb and Northern State at the NAIA and Division II levels for over 30 years. However, his personal story of adversity is almost more intriguing than all his coaching success combined. Coach Meyer taught his players the right way to act, on and off-the-court, all while dealing with some extreme personal tragedy. He left behind a lasting impact that stretched way beyond the game of basketball.

Toronto Blue Jays v Philadelphia Phillies
Dirk Hayhurst played two seasons in the MLB for the Padres and Blue Jays.
Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

John: Bullpen Gospels by Dirk Hayhurst - Hayhurst wrote a column about his time as a “Non-Prospect” for Baseball Prospectus, and turned those stories into a book in 2010. Hayhurst has no illusions about his time in the pros, and his writing is both wry and heartfelt when it needs to be. Bullpen Gospels illustrates the frustration and camaraderie that come with being a minor leaguer in a way no one has ever done before.

The 2009 Washington crew team, carrying on the legacy of the Huskies storied program.
Photo by Autumn Cruz/Sacramento Bee/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Ross: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown - The Boys in the Boat is a fantastic read that follows the University of Washington’s Men’s Rowing team during the 1936 Olympics. The story follows one member, Joe Rantz, and his upbringing and arrival to U-Dub during the Great Depression. The book details the team during college but really gets good when the team travels to Germany and defeats the German team rowing for Adolf Hitler to win gold in the Olympics.

Pepsi Stronger Together, The Close the Gap Foundation & Shaquille O’Neal Announce Atlanta Law Enforcement Training
Anything with Shaq involved is good enough for me.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Pepsi Stronger Together

Marcus: Blue Chips by Richard Woodley - I read this book when I was a teenager, so it might not hold up. But it’s a book about college basketball and how one coach decides to bend the rules and pay recruits to build a super team of shorts. It’s very stressful as it all comes crumbling around him, but it’s also awesome. They made it into a movie and Shaq played one of the players.

Favorite Non-OSU Sports Team

March Madness 2006: Gonzaga 90 Indiana 80
The Zags may be college basketball’s biggest underdog success story.
Photo by Jay Drowns/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images

The_Coach: Gonzaga Bulldogs Men’s Basketball - No, I’m not a bandwagon Gonzaga fan, but I have enjoyed the last few years of massive success, despite it not bringing a National Championship to Spokane (yet). As a shaggy haired little kid, I fell in love with the look of Gonzaga players like Portland’s own Dan Dickau and once I was old enough to understand the game of basketball, their style and attention to the details of the game really drew me in to the Zags.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Seattle Mariners
Brave use of the color teal (ahem, Northwest green) to go with some pretty scholastic-looking font.
Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

John: Seattle Mariners - Possibly the biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my life was hopping on the Mariners bandwagon in the late nineties when they were a fun, exciting team to watch. I got to enjoy the 2001 record breaking season, the crushing disappointment of that year’s playoffs, and then the next 20 years of whatever the Mariners have been. Even with all the hard years, I can’t quite quit the Ms, and Jon Bois docuseries does a good job of explaining why. There’s something ineffable about this team. A playoff appearance would be nice though.

Super Bowl LV
I got to say Ross was on the whole Bucs train long before his man Tom Brady showed up.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Ross: Tampa Bay Buccaneers - This used to be a comical take, and most everyone on the Building the Dam site has roasted me at least once for being a Bucs fan. But that no longer applies after this season. It just so happened that I learned about football roughly around the same age that I still loved everything related to Pirates, so I naturally fell in love with the Bucs logo. Growing up in Sacramento, I never really cared for the Niners or the Raiders so when I grew out of that pirate phase I figured that I would just stick with the Buccaneers. I’ve sat through some bad teams (my Josh Freeman jersey can speak to that), but am basking in the glory of our newfound eliteness, short-lived or not.

NBA: Playoffs-Portland Trail Blazers at Denver Nuggets
If you don’t like the Trail Blazers (or at least will root for them when your team’s out), please move out of Oregon.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus: Portland Trail Blazers - This is the year they win a championship. I CAN FEEL IT!

Favorite All-Time Beavers Athlete

Oregon St. v Stanford
Roberto Nelson was an inconsistently consistent, high volume scoring for a Beavers team that needed offense.
Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The_Coach: Roberto Nelson - Roberto Nelson wasn’t always the most efficient player or the best decision-maker, but at the end of the day, he did a lot of good things for the Beavers from 2010-2014 that helped carry the scoring load, especially as they transition from the Pac-10 to Pac-12. I’m sure there were many other great choices that my head just couldn’t think of during the writing of this article, but Nelson is the one that I’ll pick and remain proud of my choice.

NCAA BASKETBALL: MAR 18 Div I Women’s Championship - Second Round - Oregon State v Tennessee
From role player to star player, Marie Gulich did it all for the Beavers on the hardwood.
Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

John: Marie Gulich - In my time as a Beaver thing, one of my favorite things has been seeing the Women’s Basketball team rise from the ignominy of the Wagner years. There have been several players key to that turnaround, such as Sydney Weise, Ruth Hamblin and Mikayla Pivec, but Gulich was my favorite to watch. The way she could just take over the game with great shooting and a dominating post presence was incredible to see.

Stanford v Oregon State
Ross is just showing off with his stories now.
Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Ross: Brandin Cooks - I had the opportunity to meet Brandin Cooks through a mutual family friend while I was touring Oregon State. Cooks grew up in Stockton, roughly 20-30 minutes from where I grew up. So, naturally, I have to cheer for the hometown guy. It also helps that he’s one of the best players in Oregon State history.

Marcus: Adley Rutchsman - Seems like the nicest guy in the world, while playing a tough position. Plus never forget he was the kicker for the football team one year and TACKLED Christian McCaffrey!

Favorite All-Time Athlete

Seattle Seahawks vs Tennessee Titans - December 18, 2005
Steve McNair would embarrass today’s athletes with the injuries he played through.
Photo by Rex Brown/NFLPhotoLibrary

The_Coach: Steve McNair - Steve “Air” McNair. Growing up a Tennessee Titans fan in southern New York, as hard as it was to find the Titans on TV, when they were actually on, I was completely locked in to McNair and Eddie George as two of the best athletes I’ve ever seen play the game of football. The way McNair could battle through injuries like a hockey player and make plays out of absolutely nothing were just astounding to me. I’ll never forget his 2003 MVP season when he was absolutely ruthless.

John: Ichiro Suzuki - Ichiro definitely made some of those hard Mariners seasons go down easier. He was always a joy to watch, always dynamite on the field or at the plate even when the rest of the Mariners started stinking up the joint. Also one of the secret MVPs of the commercials Seattle always puts out.

Cassius Clay After Winning Championship
Oh, Muhammad Ali. He was the greatest before he even knew he was.

Ross: Muhammad Ali - So this is a bit more of a personal choice for me. I struggled with being confident and self-assurance through my first year of college. I stumbled onto Ali’s story around that same time and was drawn to his confidence in himself. Whether it was his witty pre-fight banter or his brave stand on the hypocrisy of the Vietnam war, Ali believed in himself and his abilities. His story inspired me as I learned more about him. By learning about Ali, it helped me learn about myself and become more assured in myself as a person. Ali’s story resonates with me more than just as an athlete and it always will.

Dallas Mavericks v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Four
Nobody epitomizes the “what could’ve been” more than Brandon Roy.
Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Marcus: Brandon Roy - This probably has more to do with the age I was when B-Roy was at his peak, but man he was awesome. He helped pull Portland back to the playoffs and national relevance. He hit so many big shots and was a joy to watch with the game on the line.

Favorite Current Athlete

UFC 257: Poirier v McGregor
Despite his recent loss to Dustin Poirier, I still have faith in Conor McGregor’s career.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

The_Coach: Conor McGregor - Love him or hate him, this is likely one of the only times I’ll ever get to use a Conor McGregor picture in an article so I’m running with it. Now that Khabib Nurmagomedov is retired, the world of UFC is open once again and McGregor had his shot to reclaim the crown and didn’t get the job done. Either way, I absolutely love him. The persona. The swagger. The confidence. The brutal knockouts throughout his career. The way he ended the great runs of guys like Jose Aldo. As a guy with Irish blood, I can’t go against my man Conor.

NHL: MAY 12 Oilers at Canadiens
If you don’t enjoy watching Connor McDavid play hockey, then you don’t enjoy hockey. Plain and simple.
Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

John: Connor McDavid - I think of having a problem of loving amazing athletes in terrible organizations. What Connor McDavid did this season is incredible, over 100 points in 56 games. The fact that the Oilers haven’t been able to turn having one of the best players in hockey into being a championship caliber team is extremely frustrating, but that doesn’t change the fact that McDavid remains electric to watch.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Portland Trail Blazers
I had to check my watch, but I already knew it was Dame Time. Okay, I’ll stop.
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Ross: Damian Lillard - Everyone on this page, reading or writing, knows how good Dame D.O.L.L.A is. However, I grew up in the Sacramento area before going to school at Oregon State. Basketball in my area is nothing but a black hole of depression and misery (sorry, Kings fans). More often than not, they defer to bandwagon with the Warriors or one of the LA teams. For me, it’s so cool to see one of the best players in the league be so committed to seeing his team succeed. In a league dominated by superstars that change teams on a regular basis, Dame’s excellence sticks with me and makes me a homer for Dame Time.

2021 NBA Playoffs - Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns
What do you even put in a caption about Lebron James that hasn’t been said before?
Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Marcus: LeBron James - Yes, he whines too much and is overly dramatic about a lot of things. But he’s going to be the NBA’s all-time leader in scoring and put together the best statical career of any NBA basketball player ever. The way he’s been able to be the unanimous best player in the world for almost 2 decades now; while having an intense spotlight on him since he was a teenager is pretty remarkable.

Favorite Non-OSU Mascot

Harvard v Yale
Handsome Dan XIX’s predecessor showing off his true school spirit.
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The_Coach: Handsome Dan (Yale) - First of all, who doesn’t love a mascot who declares himself as “handsome”, even though it’s now the 19th version of the live mascot for the Ivy Leaguers and I’m sure some along the way haven’t been too handsome. Apparently though, the new Handsome Dan is an Olde English Bulldogge (whatever that means) and is just as cool as ever, as many previous Handsome Dan’s have been caught sleeping on the sidelines during crucial parts of the Bulldogs’ football games.

Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Pelicans
I hope for you that this is the most disturbing thing you’ll see all day.
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

John: The King Cake Baby (New Orleans Pelicans) - It’s hard to stand out in the mascot field. There’s a few standouts like Gritty or the Philly Fanatic that create a unique character, but other than that there’s an endless sea of indistinguishable large cats and birds of prey. That’s why its important to single out something like the Pelicans King Cake Baby, that turns the mascot game on its head by creating something truly horrifying and upsetting.

SEC Championship - Georgia v LSU
Custom-made jerseys on dogs are something I don’t think we see enough of these days.
Photo by Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Ross: Uga (Georgia Bulldogs) - Are you really going to look at Uga after reading John’s horrifying selection and have any doubts about this good boy? John’s terrifying baby will haunt the dreams of adults and scar children for life. Uga will give you licks and cuddles and always is open to snack time. How much more do I need to explain?

Marcus: Cosmo the Cougar - Most mascots just kind of dance around and hype of the fans. BYU’s mascot might be the most athletic mascot in the country. Some of those videos are pretty impressive.

Favorite Coach (Any Sport or Team)

Real Valladolid v Atletico Madrid - La Liga Santander
Diego Simeone on on knee, with his hands out, clearly agreeing with his team’s play and the referee’s decision.
Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

The_Coach: Diego Simeone (Atletico Madrid) - Simeone just helped Atletico Madrid to a La Liga title on the final day of the season, his second league title since being appointed to run the club in 2011. In that time frame, the now 51-year old has also won a Copa del Rey and two UEFA Europa League crowns, but I like him best for his completely out of control personality which says a lot even for the game of soccer. A strange mix of Bobby Knight temperament and Nick Saban’s intensity with a sarcastic streak added in, Simeone is sometimes just as enjoyable as his teams are to watch.

San Antonio Spurs v Denver Nuggets
Who really is better than Gregg Popovich? The guy is timeless.
Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

John: Gregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs) - Pop’s an icon at this point, and I’m grateful he’s still courtside in San Antonio. Even as a fan of the fan of the teams the Spurs would inevitably kick out of the playoffs, I’ve always appreciated Popovich’s candor and irascibility. From his opinions on Steve Kerr to his opinions on extra solar planets, Pop always brings a good quote.

Ross: David Shaw (Stanford Cardinal Football) - Growing up in NorCal, I grew up in a family that loved Stanford but was never smart enough for any of us to get into the school. So we grew up cheering for Stanford athletics until I went to school at Oregon State. David Shaw was the perfect replacement for Jim Harbaugh when he left for the NFL.

UCLA v Stanford
When things get down to business, David Shaw is as good of a head coach as you’ll find in the Pac-12.
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Shaw’s calm and collected demeanor is a perfect fit for Stanford Football. Even with Stanford’s high acceptance standards, Shaw still recruits extremely well and he is an even better coach than he is a recruiter. Ultimately, Shaw is a perfect fit at Stanford and college football is better with David Shaw in it.

Favorite Broadcaster

Kentucky v Utah
Because every Batman needs a Robin.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The_Coach: Dave Pasch - To work off of John’s answer, since Bill Walton is the all-time greatest, his partner and the man who keeps the broadcast from becoming a filibuster about California soil is clearly my go-to-guy. Who Pasch pissed off to get that gig, I’m not really sure, yet he’s amazing at just simply ignoring Bill and bringing it back to the game at any moment’s notice.

UCLA v Chaminade
Cooler than the other side of the pillow.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

John: Bill Walton - There are a lot of great color commentators out there, but no one else has ever bit into a cupcake with a lit candle on it. You never know what you’re going to get with Walton, but oh boy is going to be entertaining.

Ross: Brent Musburger - We all know Musburger’s famous intro: “You are looking live...” and connect it to some major college football game. Brent’s calm demeanor and deliberate calls beautifully painted a picture of the game for fans. I still associate his voice with the Rose Bowl Game and the historic games that came out of there. And let’s not bag him too much for swooning over Katherine McCarron in that championship game, we all DEFINITELY did the same thing (Kidding! Kidding!).

Favorite Sports Video Game

The_Coach: Shaun Palmer’s Pro Snowboarder - Essentially you just kept doing tricks and going downhill for time increments, but man was this game something when it came out. The tricks were wild, the coin totals seemed like you were actually winning something and then of course, you had to get creative and find the secret paths and different ways down the hill. Break out your PS2 people.

John: SSX Tricky - Run DMC’s It’s Tricky has been stuck in my head for 20 years. This game is a perfect blend of racing, trick performance, soundtrack, character design, level design, pretty much everything you need. I still remember jamming down Garibaldi Mountain as Eddie from way back when.

Ross: Madden (any year) - I’m a massive Madden junkie and have even played in a few tournaments for Madden. Now, I love hopping into franchise mode and redrafting my favorite team (and yes, the Bucs always win the Super Bowl). I still fantasize about what would happen if Andrew Luck was a Buccaneer. Will still hop online to play, but play Madden casually now more than anything.

Favorite Non-Major Sport to Watch

Ward lands a jab to Gatti
One of the legendary trilogy fights between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward.
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

The_Coach: Boxing - Since it’s not the mid-1990’s anymore, I’m going to say boxing isn’t a major sport, but I actually probably spend more time watching boxing than any other sport besides maybe basketball. My favorite current boxer is Vasyl Lomachenko and all-time, I loved the fighting spirit of Arturo Gatti. If you’re not into it, watch it a few times and see if you get the hang of it. Often times, people get hooked very quickly.

NRL Rd 11 - Rabbitohs v Panthers
Brolic men. Short shorts. Lots of intense tackling that doesn’t follow too many safety rules. It’s weird, but John likes it.
Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

John: Rugby - I discovered Rugby on a high school trip to Australia and have been in love with it ever since. The speed and aggression makes it a great game to check out. I’m a big fan of Australia’s NRL, who’s Rugby League rules have a system similar to American Football’s downs. An American league, Major League Rugby, just started up a couple years ago, and has been a great watch. Its never too late to jump on the Seattle Seawolves bandwagon.

F1 Grand Prix of Monaco
If you like fast cars and tons of behind the scenes drama, forget the “Fast and Furious” movies, check out Formula 1 racing.
Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Ross: Formula 1 Racing - Okay so I definitely picked this sport up during quarantine after watching Netflix’s “Drive to Survive” series. I was drawn to the setup of the race track that involves more than just turning left (sorry for the shot, NASCAR fans). The rivalries in the sport are fantastic, and with Red Bull finally having a car and team to match Mercedes the sport finally has some exciting competition for the top team on the track. If waking up at five or six in the morning to watch a race is a bit too much, I still highly encourage checking out the aforementioned Netflix series.