November 12th, 2012 by Patrick Sturgeon
WHAT IF I TOLD YOU…? Never doubt the power of home court advantage. A story of the most important document in sports history – James Naismith’s original rules of basketball – and the quest to return it home
What if I told YOU … I have two-fold connection to the “There’s No Place Like Home” documentary. Firstly, I am a loud, proud and avowed graduate of the University of Kansas; ask anyone here in the ESPN America office. I am a shameless promoter of all things Jayhawk.
And secondly, I have my very own certified copy of the Original Rules of Basketball signed by the late Ian Naismith [pictured right with me looking on], who is the grandson of the inventor of basketball James Naismith. I was lucky enough to meet Ian at the Final Four in 2010. He had a little display set up at the Bracket Town fan experience and what an experience it turned out to be for me.
As you can imagine, when I first heard there was going to be a film about one KU fan’s obsession in getting the Original Rules of Basketball back to Lawrence, I was very intrigued.
If you like an underdog story, if you are a history buff or if you remotely consider yourself a fan of any sport, then you will enjoy “There’s No Place Like Home”.
The focus of the story is Josh Swade [right], a Kansas Univ. graduate who lives in New York City and found out that the Original Rules of Basketball were going to be auctioned off at the world’s famous Sotheby’s Auction house in one month’s time. Josh firmly beleived that the rules – THE Rules - belonged in Lawrence, Kansas because James Naismith was the first basketball coach at Kansas after all. It was a no brainer in his eyes. The problem was that Josh didn’t have the millions of dollars it would take to purchase what is described in the film as the most significant piece of sports memorabilia ever sold at auction. But what Josh did have was determination, grit, a lot of free time and a sense of fandom that went beyond most sports fans.
He compiled of list of rich Kansas Alumni who might be able to afford such a luxury and started his quest. The path and the method that Josh and his friends took is something out of a slapstick comedy. There was even an evil villain in the plot (a rich Duke Alumni – boo! hiss!!).
I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say the basketball Gods looked down upon Josh and declared his mission worthwhile. I even found myself getting a little teary eyed at the very end, but then again, I am a Jayhawk and have more in common with someone like Josh than I am ready to admit. But I will admit, I really liked this film, I have already watched it twice. Rock Chalk Jayhawk. Go KU.
PATRICK STURGEON – Director of Programming ESPN America
We’re not in Kansas anymore …
This statement has followed the Kansas Basketball team on the road for 70-plus years. (The Wizard of Oz debuted in 1939, the same year as the NCAA Tournament) It seems that every time the Jayhawks visit opposing arenas there are at least a few signs from local fans relaying this infamous line recited by Dorothy.
I, too, am not in Kansas anymore. I’ve lived in New York for over 15 years. I love New York. It’s the sort of place where dreams can come true. But it will never be home. My home will always be Kansas.
Home for basketball’s inventor, James Naismith, was also Kansas. Though he stopped over in Springfield, Mass. where he created the game, Naismith lived in Lawrence for 41 years. It was there where he founded the KU Basketball program. It was there where he mentored the great Forrest “Phog” Allen and the modern game took shape. And it’s there, where Naismith rests for eternity.
Naismith relayed late in his life that he wished for the Basketball Hall of Fame to be erected in Lawrence, Kan. They didn’t listen. They built it in Springfield. My mission and this resulting film are about honoring James Naismith’s last wishes. This film is about cementing one man’s legacy and honoring the greatest basketball tradition of all time and and the place that James Naismith called home.
Director: Josh Swade
“The history of basketball is so entwined with KU that the memory of James Naismith is unavoidable in Lawrence. The film not only captures the origin of one of the world’s most popular sports, but it also tells a story of a diehard fan who went all out to make a difference for his school.”
Andrew Joseph – azcentral sports
“There’s also some elements of history that even a staunch KU fan might not be familiar with, including Naismith and Phog Allen’s role in making basketball an Olympic sport. That stuff is pretty good.”
Rustin Dodd – The Kansas City Star
COMING SOON in the 30 for 30 Volume Two Season
Check local listings for premiere and repeats screenings for Vol 2 films, as well as re-runs of archive ESPN Films
“Benji” – In 1984, 17-year-old Ben Wilson was America’s most talented basketball prospect until the sweet-natured boy was senselessly murdered.
“Ghosts of Ole Miss” – In 1962, the University of Mississippi erupted in violence over integration while swelling with pride over an unbeaten football team.
“You Don’t Know Bo” – Vincent ‘Bo’ Jackson hit 500-foot home runs and ran over linebackers. A look at the man and the myths of a two-sport legend and pop culture icon that captured our collective imagination.
© ESPN 2013