Sports Lists

NY Magazine Ranked Every Single ESPN '30 for 30' If You're Interested

Image credit: ESPN (via
Image credit: ESPN (via
Gabe ZaldivarPop Culture Lead WriterOctober 3, 2013

They are engaging, thought-provoking and beyond entertaining. Thanks to a recent ranking, ESPN's popular documentary series will be extremely polarizing as well. 

Pete Beatty, from New York Magazine's Vulture website, (h/t Deadspin) takes on the mammoth task of not only summing up each and every "30 for 30" documentary, but ranking them how he sees fit. 

The rather remarkable endeavor comes at a fitting time, because ESPN will air their 52nd entry into the series initially started to mark the network's 30th anniversary back in 2009. 

The initial documentaries were so well received that ESPN kept them coming, diving into more intriguing segments of the sports world. 

On Wednesday, Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau will premier at 8 p.m. ET, covering the story of big wave surfer Eddie Aikau

It remains to be seen where this presentation, directed by Sam George, will end up on a prolific list of fan favorites. As far as Beatty is concerned, it will have to contend with a rather solid top 10. 

  1. The Two Escobars
  2. No Crossover 
  3. Without Bias
  4. Fab Five
  5. June 17, 1994
  6. Survive and Advance
  7. Once Brothers 
  8. The Marinovich Project
  9. The Birth of Big Air 
  10. Unmatched 

I was rather astounded to realize the series already exceeded 50 documentaries. While I haven't personally had the pleasure of watching each and every one, I do have my favorites. 

The absence of a narrator in June 17, 1994 has a gripping effect on the audience, making this a must-see anytime it comes on the television. 

Reliving a huge portion of my youth with the Fab Five is aways enjoyable. I also can't stop laughing at the rivalry played out between Spike Lee and Reggie Miller in Winning Time (No. 41), so I was a little disappointed to see that so low. 

Then again, I could say the same for Four Days in October (No. 32), which profiled a tremendous turning point for one of baseball's most beloved franchises in the Boston Red Sox. 

That's just my opinion. And really, unshakable opinions are what will make this list such a highly enjoyable one for fans of the series. 

Essentially, there is no right answer. 

You walk into a fancy restaurant where everything is good and nothing on the menu would let you down, and it's sort of like sitting down to watch one of the "30 for 30" documentaries. 

You can try to pick the best of the lot, but all you are going to do is start one crazy debate. 


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