The Legend of Swee’ Pea
The Legend of Swee’ Pea, directed by the American first-time director Benjamin May, is an honest, emotional and thought-provoking documentary about Lloyd Daniels’ rise to the NBA and his personal struggles with drugs, alcohol and family issues along the road. The screening was organized by the AUBG Documentary Club on Nov. 10.
Daniels, now a basketball coach, reflects back on his journey of turning from one of the most sought-after recruits to “a poster boy for everything wrong with UNLV Rebels”. Having grown up in Brooklyn, he was always surrounded by two things: basketball and drugs; and they became two major factors in his life that defined his personality. The film features Swee’ Pea’s (a nickname given to Daniels because of the pea-like shape of his head) highest and lowest points: arrest for drug possession, drug rehabilitation, being shot, but also his acceptance at the NBA and him meeting the love of his life.
The film also depicts many relationships with people that played key roles in Swee’ Pea’s life. Daniels’ relationships with his family members influenced his life greatly. When he was very young, his mother died and his father was so involved with his own issues that he was never there for his son. This resulted in Daniels being his own guardian: doing whatever he wanted, never going to school. Daniels left high school with zero credits. That is why he desperately needed guidance. One of the people who provided it for him, was his coach and mentor, Jerry Tarkanian. For Tarkanian, Daniels wasn’t just another big star: “It wasn’t about basketball, it was about helping a young kid from Brooklyn.” The movie features a very emotional scene of Daniels visiting Tarkanian and reminiscing about old times.
May presented in front of AUBG-ers the first rough cut of the movie. It hasn’t been shown on the big screen yet, but the documentary may premiere at an important film festival in early 2015. The director wanted the feedback from the audience, so viewers were asked to fill out a short survey after the screening. A small conversation about the movie also took place.
“The Legend of Swee’ Pea” provides a great insight into the complicated story of a famous basketball player and the world of basketball in general, where you don’t get second chances. It shows that it doesn’t matter how great your talent may be, your choices are what define how successful you can be in life.