The 30 Greatest ESPN ‘30 for 30’ Films

Our picks for the thirty best 30 for 30 films that every sports lover should binge on

Originally commissioned to celebrate ESPN’s 30th anniversary in 2009, the 30 for 30 series has grown to over ninety short films on all manner of sporting events and topics. After the original thirty episodes, thirteen new episodes were released under the ESPN Films Presents name in 2011, before the 30 for 30 name was restored to the series. We’ve included all of these in our calculation of the thirty greatest episodes.

With over ninety 30 for 30 films already released by ESPN and more coming out all the time, deciding which to watch has become quite the challenge. With that in mind, we decided to compile our favorite episodes to help you choose which to watch.

Feel free to disagree with us or weigh in with your favorites from the 30 for 30 series of films in the comment section below.


30. Believeland

Andy Billman

The lowly history of the Cleveland Browns football team.


29. Guru of Go

Bill Couturié

Basketball Coach Paul Westhead pioneering ‘The System’ at LMU.


28. Catholics vs. Convicts

Patrick Creadon

The 1988 Notre Dame vs. Miami football game and its impact.


27. Rand University

Marquis Daisy

Randy Moss’s rise from West Virginia to NFL legend.


26. Elway to Marino

Ken Rodgers and NFL Films

The 1983 NFL Draft, where 6 QB’s were taken in round one.


25. The 16th Man

Bestall and McCreary

The 1995 Rugby World Cup and its impact on South Africa.


24. Prince of Pennsylvania

Jesse Vile

The eccentric life of John du Pont and Foxcatcher wrestling.


23. I Hate Christian Laettner

Rory Karpf

The career of Duke basketball star Christian Laettner.


22. Unguarded

Johnathan Hock

NBA player Chris Herren, a tale of addiction and redemption.


21. Slaying the Badger

John Dower

American Greg LeMond’s rise to dominate the Tour de France.


20. One and Not Done

Jonathan Hock

John Calipari — Destroyer of programs, shepherd to the NBA.


19. Youngstown Boys

Jeff Zimbalist

How Jim Tressel turned his back on OSU star Maurice Clarett.


18. Requiem for the Big East

Ezra Edelman

The rise of Big East basketball and its eventual collapse.


17. Pony Excess

Thaddeus D. Matula

The win-at-all-costs SMU Mustangs football team.


16. Catching Hell

Alex Gibney

Steve Bartman, the Cubs, and their 2003 playoff collapse.


15. This Magic Moment

Erin Leyden and Gentry Kirby

The 90s Orlando Magic, starring Penny Hardaway & Shaq.


14. The U

Billy Corben

The birth of the Miami football dynasty in south Florida.


13. Four Falls of Buffalo

Ken Rodgers

The early 90s Buffalo Bills that lost 4 consecutive super bowls.


12. Of Miracles and Men

Jonathan Hock

The Miracle on Ice from the Soviet point of view.


11. The Two Escobars

Jeff Zimbalist

The lives of Columbians Andrés Escobar and Pablo Escobar.


10. You Don’t Know Bo

Michael Bonfiglio

Bo Jackson — the greatest athlete of all time.


9. Fantastic Lies

Marina Zenovich

A retrospective on the Duke lacrosse case from 2006.


8. The Best That Never Was

Jonathan Hock

The 1981 recruiting of Marcus Dupree and subsequent injuries.


7. Once Brothers

NBA Entertainment

Dražen Petrović and Vlade Divac’s tumultuous relationship.


6. Bad Boys

Zak Levitt

The Detroit Pistons team that shook the NBA power structure.


5. The Fab Five

Jason Hehir

How Michigan’s Fab Five changed basketball forever.


4. Winning Time

Dan Klores

Reggie Miller’s quest to beat the Knicks and win a championship.


3. The ’85 Bears

Jason Hehir

The story of Coach Ditka and the dominant 1985 Chicago Bears.


2. Best of Enemies

Jim Podhoretz

Three-part series about the legendary Celtics–Lakers rivalry.


1. Survive and Advance

Jonathan Hock

NC State’s historic NCAA championship run in 1983.