The style and impact of New York City’s legendary point guards are depicted in the Showtime Sports documentary film “NYC Point Gods.” The film includes archival footage of point guards such as Kenny Anderson, Mark Jackson, Stephon Marbury, God Shammgod, Kenny Smith, Rod Strickland and the late Dwayne “Pearl” Washington.
The film is directed by native New Yorker Sam Eliad, a basketball lover, who grew up watching the point gods of the ’80s and ’90s. Combining vintage footage that spotlights the players in high school and college along with current interviews, it is a tribute to a style of play that defined an era of basketball as well as American culture.
“These guys were our superheroes,” said Eliad. “These players are the ‘Avengers’ of New York City basketball, and this film tells their origin stories. You might have heard of Kenny Anderson and Kenny Smith, but you don’t know exactly where they come from, what they come from and their journey. One thing that was really important is to also set a lot of these on their high schools.
“Those teenage years are really what make you, and so we interviewed most of these people in their respective high schools,” he added. “Kenny Anderson gets really emotional because that’s the place he became a man. … Each character was so gracious and so excited to talk and share their New York story.”
The film shows the special characteristics of players from Harlem, the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn. Eliad said he saw many of these players play in high school, and he chose to interview them at their schools so the locations felt grand. Jackson was interviewed at St. John’s University, joined for a few moments by the iconic Lou Carnesecca. After St. John’s, Jackson played for the Knicks, earning NBA Rookie of the Year while still living in his childhood home in Queens.
“It’s not easy to play in New York,” said Eliad. “New York fans, we know so much about basketball that everyone has such a strong opinion.”
Respect is also given to standout female point guards: Shannon Bobbitt, Nancy Lieberman, Niki Avery and Niesha Butler. “Niesha Butler broke Kenny Anderson’s record of the most points scored,” said Eliad. “That’s a big deal, male or female.”
The players interviewed agreed the influence of New York point guards on the game of basketball is undeniable. “We’re here to put on a show,” said Eliad.