It's not a movie most people would remember, but as far as basketball movies go, Inside Moves is one with a lot of heart. Made in 1980, and set mostly in a bar, it's a story about heart and survival, with one character who had NBA talent but needed an operation to get there.
It featured several members of the Golden State Warriors, including Durham native John Lucas, although he was just used for the game scenes. But it got us thinking about how great he was before he became viciously addicted to cocaine.
Lucas went through hell before redeeming himself, but there was a time when he was a breath of fresh air. The two-sport star - he was also an elite tennis player - was a huge presence. When he first got to Houston, the Rockets were so-so. But building around Lucas, Calvin Murphy, Moses Malone and Rudy Tomjanovich, the Rockets improved sharply with their rookie point guard, who they picked first in the 1976 draft.
But by December of 1977, Tomjanovich had endured a legendary and terrifying face-crumpling punch by Kermit Washington. Malone was traded to Philadelphia in 1982. Lloyd Lewis and former Clemson Tiger Mitchell Wiggins were soon to be banned for cocaine. In 2004, Murphy was charged with sexual abuse and indency with three of his daughters, but was acquitted (at the trial, the prosecutor painted an ugly picture of Murphy, saying that he had fathered 14 children with nine women, with three pregnant at the same time, and while he had married one, the children of the rest were forbidden to acknowledge him publicly or call him daddy).
And Lucas? Lucas was shipped to Golden State in 1978 as compensation for the acquisition of Rick Barry and soon his enormous drug problem couldn't be denied. He tried for a while, though.
It was a terrible fall, but Lucas, since then, has done a remarkable job of turning his life around. The link above is from SI's Vault, and so are the two below.