Live - Hooked, The Legend Of Demetrius "Hook" Mitchell





Last night, Hooked, The Legend Of
Demetrius "Hook" Mitchell,
was screened
in Chicago as part of the Black Harvest Film
Festival at the Gene Siskel Film Center in
downtown Chicago. The film has already won
"Best Documentary" at the 2003 SF Black Film
Festival and was an "Official Selection" at both
the 2003 Tribeca Film Festival and the 2003
Hip Hop Film Festival, so I had high
expectations from the beginning.
Hooked is the first film produced by
Fader Films, so I was lucky enough to see
some very rough cuts last December and I
must say I was intrigued. As a kid who grew
up in the basketball-loving city of Chicago
during the height of the Bulls' NBA dominance,
and an avid basketball player, the story of
"one of the best basketball players never to
make the NBA" (as quoted by Milwaukee Bucks
point guard, Gary Payton) was right
up my alley. I went into the film knowing very
little about Hook, but upon leaving, I
have an understanding and respect for his
importance to the city of Oakland and the
game of basketball itself.


Hook Mitchell was a streetball
legend in the Bay Area. He had crazy hops.
Hook, at 5'9", could dunk over the top of a
car, do 360s over a guy sitting in a chair, and
do just about any other show-stopping, jaw-
dropping demonstration of incredible
athleticism you could imagine. Not only that,
he could shoot from anywhere on the court,
dribble as good or better than the Allen
Iversons and Stephan Marburys
of the world, and had the killer instinct of a
Michael Jordan or Gary
Payton. Most stories like this - of the
guy that should have, but never made it to the
NBA - I take with a grain of salt, as they're
normally told by kids hooping at the park.
This isn't the case with Hook. The film
captures various interviews with NBA All-stars
Jason Kidd and Gary Payton, as well as former
NBA World Champion Brian Shaw,
and NBA veteran Antonio Davis -
guys who know what the fuck they're talking
about. "Hook was by far the best player to
come out of Oakland. There's no comparison
to me, Gary Payton, Antonio Davis, Greg
Foster, or Brian Shaw," said Jason Kidd.
There's even a story told in the film about
Hook, as a 5'3" 9/10 year old throwing down
dunks during warm-ups of a basketball
tournament. There's even a photo. It's
wild.

Where Gary Payton, Jason Kidd and the others
had a strong family background - a stern
mother and father, Hook was raised by his
grandmother along with 10 other
grandchildren. His parents were drug addicts
and spent most of their lives in jail. His
brother was one of the biggest dope dealers in
the Bay Area. I could go on, but you get the
idea. As a result, Hook got caught up in the
street lifestyle and was doing hard drugs by
13. As his friends skyrocketed to
superstardom and super paychecks, Hook was
on the drug and crime infested streets of West
Oakland, and eventually found himself in jail,
where he remains to this day.

Hooked, The Legend Of Demetrius Hook
Mitchell
captures a life gone wrong
through a series of interviews with Hook and
many who knew him well. Much of the film is
shot in prison, including a jail-yard basketball
tournament where Hook pulls off the sickest
juke move I've ever seen on some guy on a
fast break - we're talking ankle breaking. The
film makes no attempts to glamorize Hook, or
say that he's been wrongly incarcerated. It
instead tells the story of a man who made all
the wrong choices and has missed out on what
could have been a Hall of Fame NBA career, but
who has accepted his current situation and
has chosen to learn and grow. Rather than
complain, Hook takes every opportunity to
better himself. He has converted to Islam,
takes classes in prison, and mentors younger
inmates. Upon his release, Hook has plans to
create a non-profit organization to help kids
in the Bay Area make the right decisions in
life.

At around 65 minutes, this film is a must see,
and that goes for everyone, not just hoops
fans. The physical demonstrations shown in
the film are incredible (Hook jumping clear
over a car like it's a stick on the sidewalk), but
the story itself is a touching one and the
message is universal. In honor of Mr.
Gene Siskel, I give the film two big
thumbs up.




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Live - Hooked, The Legend Of Demetrius "Hook" Mitchell