NC State had to win 9 do-or-die games in a row to make it to the National Championship game where the prolific Houston Cougars were waiting. Houston had earned the nickname Phi Slamma Jamma in no small part because of Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler – two men who would go on to not only be NBA Hall of Famers, but named to the Top 50 basketball players of all time. But NC State had already faced future Top 50 players to get there – Michael Jordan, James Worthy, and Ralph Sampson.
Survive and Advance is about more than just that historic run that ended with what many call the greatest college basketball game ever played. It is about the life and legacy of Jim Valvano. Director Jonathan Hock paints a masterpiece of a story, giving us a much larger scope than just the events of the 1983 season. He takes us to when Jimmy V was hired, his family life, and even post-1983 when a few years later, the wheels fell off the wagon and he was branded with the scarlet letter of “lack of institutional control” by the NCAA.
The film is worth watching solely for Jimmy Valvano’s “Never give up” speech he gave at the 1993 Espy’s – one of his last public appearances. Hock shows us the entire speech along with running commentary from Coach Mike Krzyzewski, one of Valvano’s closest friends and he was with him the day he died.
How Hock tells this story is absolutely wonderful. He weaves us in and out of present day interviews with members of the ’83 team along with archive footage. He starts the story in 2011 and jumps all through the decades telling the story, not one time getting bogged down or lost in the middle of it. Derek Whittenburg – starting guard for the Wolfpack in ’83 is our guide through these years and Hock couldn’t have picked a better story-teller.
It’s currently streaming on Netflix and any basketball fan should absolutely watch this film.