A blink-and-you-missed-it coach during this year's American hard-court swing for Maria Sharapova, Jimmy Connors got ESPN's vaunted 30 for 30 treatment this week. This tennis legend, often referred to as a boor or a poor sport or a firebrand (or far worse, as evidenced un-bleep-ingly late in the film of discussion), Connors follows in the footsteps of fellow stars for all of time, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. Connors' 60-minute tale is titled This Is What They Want, on the heels of the Unmatched film starring his female counterparts.
True to form, Connors' story is unvarnished, nothing like the relative gal-pal portrayal of Navratilova and Evert, who make charming cronies these days. Bold and brash, Connors ruled as if a tyrant on the tennis court, stifling the desires of lesser players and relishing the role of foil to the likes of John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl. Chuck Klosterman, a rabid sports fan, terms the Connors-McEnroe kerfuffle as comparable to the difference between East Coast rock gods Bruce Springsteen and Lou Reed. I'll let you guess who he casts as whom.
For the hardcore tennis fan, viewing Aaron Krickstein's present thoughts in the rear-view of his classic 1991 U.S. Open encounter with Connors makes for be captivating television. The 24-year-old ultimately submitted to the 39-year-old Connors—on the latter's birthday, no less, and please don't tell me I'm ruining the story for you. He's rather Zen about it all today, though, despite the fact that his epic loss gets replayed on rain-delayed U.S. Open telecasts ad nauseum. In this film, astute commentator Mary Carillo notes that Krickstein was vying to do in a foe twice his age in the match. Well, 39 is not 48, but Carillo's hyperbole can be excused—despite its overplay, the match was simply that good. It had all the tension and the thrill that a great one owns. So did its victor.
Here's that match in its entirety (if we must):
Check your TV listings for notice of re-airings of the documentary. Your turn to spin it: What did you think of This Is What They Want?
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