As we all know by now, Oscar-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams died Monday in California. He was 63 years old.
Williams appeared in over sixty films as well as numerous television shows and proved to be one of the greatest actors of my time. The versatility Williams displayed in his craft was unmatched. As President Obama said in a statement on Tuesday, “…he was one of a kind.”
As we discussed Robin’s tremendous Hollywood career here at the Philadunkia offices, it dawned on me that most of the 76ers were still in diapers when Williams did some of his finest work. So with that thought in mind, I assembled a list of three ‘classic’ Robin Williams films this young, rising team should watch and take notes on.
3 classic Robin Williams’ Films the 76ers should watch and learn from…
Moscow on the Hudson (1984): In one of his first major film roles, Williams play a Russian musician (Vladimir Ivanoff) who defects to the United States while the circus he works for is on a tour of this country. At the height of the Cold War, the only thing funnier than this concept is that Williams’ character defects in the fitting room at Bloomingdale’s in NYC and is assisted by a store security guard and “Agent Williams” who is played by actor Lyman Ward (Ferris Bueller’s legendary dad). Anyways, hilarity ensues as Vlad has a very difficult time adjusting to life in America which through his eyes is filled with Big Macs and blue jeans. Still, with the help of his Italian girlfriend and his African-American roommate, he finds the American freedoms he so desires. Williams is brilliant in this highly underrated flick.
I’m looking at “Moscow on the Hudson” as long term teaching tool for the Sixers. Valdimir’s defection to America was his own version of tank and rebuild — leave everything he knows and loves in mediocre Russia to start over in a new country with absolutely nothing, but the hope of better days ahead. At first, he struggled to figure out this new world, but in the end Vlad navigated his way through the pitfalls and eventually realized his Amercian dream.
If Hinkie’s blow up and rebuild goes as planned, then someday the 76ers will be find themselves in a foreign land known as the top of the Eastern Conference. Much like Vladimir in America, once the Sixers are in a place they want to be (among the NBA’s elite teams), the organization may take some time to find their footing. However, if they stumble at first, the 76ers can always look to Williams’ character in this movie for inspiration, keep plugging away and eventually realize Hinkie’s dream.
The Best of Times (1986): In this 1980’s classic, Williams plays Jack Dundee, a middle aged, somewhat successful banker (read loser) who can’t stop thinking about the “big” high school football game in which he dropped what would have been the winning touchdown pass. Dundee’s obsession with his legendary blunder (He rewatches film of his debacle daily.) and letting his hometown down pushes him to eagerly pursuit and finally arrange a rematch between his Taft (CA) squad and football factory Bakersfield. Of course Dundee’s current day Taft squad is a disorganized, out of shape mess and a heavy underdog in the rematch. Still, Jack has a plan and his Taft squad trains hard for the big rematch. Of course, they fall behind 26-0 in the game, but in true Hollywood fashion the lovable losers from Taft stage an epic comeback (27-26 final) that is capped off by Dundee’s last second touchdown catch.
In watching this very funny William’s film, I hope the 76ers learn that it doesn’t matter that most of the League, many fans in this city and consistently low post-season NBA odds think you’re a bunch of tanking losers right now. What matters is that you have a solid plan; back it up with a ton of hard work; throw in a little luck along the way and in the end you can win “the big one”.
Dead Poet’s Society (1989): Williams was absolutely brilliant in his role as Joh Keating, a prep school English teacher who’s unusual methods are frowned upon by the establishment, but inspire his students to think outside the box, follow their dreams and “seize the day” in order to live extraordinary lives. If you don’t know the further details of this film that received four Oscar nominations, you should go immediately to Netflix and watch this amazing movie.
The learning point from this film should be easy for the Sixers’ inexperienced roster to recognize. Like Keating, Sam Hinkie and Brett Brown have used highly unusual methods in assembling and coaching up a roster that is not much older than the prep schoolers portrayed in “Dead Poet’s Society”. Their methods have been frequently questioned by the traditional NBA guard as well as the mainstream media and are now falling under heavy scrutiny from Adam Silver’s office. Still if the players on this team listen to what Hinkie and Brown are teaching, put in the work necessary and practice a little “Carpe Diem” it will only be a short time before the 76ers are an extraordinary franchise.
I can only dream that someday soon there will be a scene in the Sixers locker room after the team has captured an Eastern Conference title where MCW stands on his locker room chair, glares down at Hinkie and Brown, and declares, “Oh Captain, My Captain”.
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