Fast Break is not a great movie. The arty Blazers documentary about the team's 1977 championship season begins with four minutes of random drumming set over footage of Bill Walton and his teammates disembarking from a commercial flight from Los Angeles. Then there are several minutes of the players stretching and taking warm-up layups as a flute plays. Then, you sit through the entire national anthem as the screen shows the film's credits scrolling across the scoreboard.
But it's also a surprisingly romantic movie—not just for a lost era when NBA practices were open to whoever wanted to show up and players went to barbecues with local dignitaries, but because everyone involved seems ready to strip off their short shorts and make the most of the '70s at any moment.
Here's what stands out from this discursive, oddly meditative film.
1.For no apparent reason, the movie follows local author and onetime WW scribe Larry Colton as he interviews players for his book Idol Time. We get an early look inside Colton's writing room, and to eavesdrop on a conversation with his editor. "I doubt if basketball players, across the board, are any more interesting than plumbers or schoolteachers or lawyers or anybody," the soft-spoken and brooding Colton says. "It's just the fact that they happen to be in the public eye and I happen to have received a nice, healthy advance to write a book about basketball players. I didn't get an advance to write a book about plumbers."
2.Then we get to see Bill and Larry stop to pick berries on the side of the highway during a long bike ride from Portland to the coast.
3.Late, great forward Maurice Lucas swims in a warm pool, chatting with another player about what they did over their brief summer break. After his dip, you get a look inside the locker room where Lucas shows off his new deodorant, saying that you "won't believe how effective" it is.
4.Then it's to the gym, where an elderly man who can't afford season tickets shows up to watch every practice. In the '70s, local dudes just showed up at the gym to watch ball players sweat. "I get my kicks out of coming over here and watching them practice," he says. "I'm just a little runt, but I have fun." The man has no problem striking up conversations with the players. "All the players are easy to talk to, I find. All you have to do is go up and start talking to them."
5.Bill Walton, sitting by a creek, talks about the majesty of the championship team. "When everything is going right for us—which obviously is not going to happen every game—but when it does happen, it's just hard to explain, but everybody at once seems to be on the same wavelength," he says.
6.Walton and Colton go bike riding. Walton teases Colton about his slow pace. "If you just stay right on my tail—if you sit about this far off my back wheel the whole time, you'll get my draft, and then you won't get tired," he says softly, and with a smile.
7.A photographer shows off his fancy new Nikon camera to a sassy young Vera Katz. "Two hundred and sixty dollars?" she says. "I'm a politician, we only make, what, $600 a month!"
8.A few seconds later the mood is broken by a brief cameo featuring former Portland mayor, governor and child rapist Neil Goldschmidt.
9.The movie ends with Bill Walton taking a long walk along the Pacific, by himself. Colton is nowhere to be found, and his absence is not explained.
GO: Fast Break screens at Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark St., after the Blazers-Warriors game, on Wednesday, Feb. 14. 7:30 pm. Free. 21+.