Full Court Press: One Superstar’s Defense Against Adversity

When I first spoke to Spencer Haywood, the Basketball Hall of Famer and United States Olympic gold medal winner, I was caught off guard. I had been expecting his call last week. My phone rang, showing 313 or the Detroit area code.

Spencer Haywood lived in Las Vegas so I knew it wasn’t him.

“Hello.”

“Hello Cholly! It’s Spencer Haywood.”

I was wrong.

The Mississippi-born superstar treated me as if we were life-long friends.

I had been working on landing “Full Court: The Spencer Haywood Story,” –a documentary on the accidental pioneer who took a semblance of basketball free agency to the United States Supreme Court–for the Royal Starr Film Festival. “Full Court” had premiered world-wide in Seattle last May. Seattle is where the Detroit Pershing High School graduate landed in the NBA after a protracted journey, including earning an Olympic gold medal in 1968, to enter pro-basketball.

After an American Basketball Association rookie season in Denver, Spencer Haywood defied eligibility rules and joined the NBA’s Seattle Supersonics where he and Sonics owner Sam Schulman launched an anti-trust suit (Haywood v National Basketball Association). Today, it is the rule rather than the exception that NBA players may be drafted before they are of college graduation age. You can just look at the so-called “one-and-done” phenomenon at schools like Kentucky where freshmen play one year and enter the draft. Look at LeBron James. LeBron James can thank Spencer Haywood.

Spencer Haywood’s story needs to be told in Detroit. And, it will. Royal Starr Film Festival is thrilled to announce that “Full Court: The Spencer Haywood Story,” narrated by Chuck D, is now an official selection of the RSFF. This is its Michigan premiere.

Please join us in October, in Royal Oak, Michigan.

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