Raising Éire: Americans in Ireland’s Golden Age of Basketball

Ireland.A2003004We Got Game: The Golden Age of Irish Basketball is a fantastic documentary on 1980s pro basketball in the Republic of Ireland. The 50-minute film is filled with fascinating, humorous interviews with Irish and American players recalling the culture shock and other experiences of the Americans integrating into Irish basketball. Characters like the sage Kelvin Troy liven up the documentary with their charming accents and incisive wit.

The documentary, I think, is a great example of the “shock troops” of spreading basketball or any cultural habit. The Dream Team of 1992 receives acclaim for inspiring the explosion in international basketball. Perhaps that legendary squad planted the seeds of the explosion, but the players like those in this film plowed the field and tilled the soil for the seeds to take root.

Just as insightful is the look we get at a small-time professional league where players of both teams go out after games for drinks with one another, and fans storm the court after major victories. But also teams would send you packing back to America, if you didn’t produce fast enough. It’s a reminder that once upon a time in the United States, when the NBA itself was small-time, fans, management, and players behaved in the same way.

The Irish Golden Era ended in the late 1980s, though, because of a bone-headed decision. The Golden Age didn’t just end, the sport has atrophied in Ireland. It should have grown and solidified itself as a permanent fixture in Irish sports.

But enough of my yapping, give the film a spin for freeWe Got Game: the Golden Age of Irish Basketball

h/t to Alan Ryan for sending me the link to this movie.

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