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Bobby Sabelhaus Talks ESPN Documentary On Legendary Dunbar Basketball Teams

July 26, 2017
Baltimore City's legendary Dunbar High School boys' basketball teams of the early 1980s has gotten the ESPN Films "30 for 30" treatment.

The documentary, titled "Baltimore Boys," will air at 8 p.m. Aug. 8 on ESPN, and the film's executive producer, Baltimore native Bobby Sabelhaus, said it is an incredible feeling to know it will finally be shown to the public.

"It was such an important documentary for me, and I know for the guys involved in Dunbar and for the city," Sabelhaus said on Glenn Clark Radio July 21. "It really feels like the culmination of a lot of work over the last three years." 

Some of the work included setting up extensive interviews with former Dunbar head coach Bob Wade and former Dunbar stars Muggsy Bogues, Reggie Williams and David Wingate, among others. But Sabelhaus said the city of Baltimore would also play a big role in its own right. 

"It's just a special Baltimore story, but I think it's one of those great kept secrets to the rest of the country," said Sabelhaus, a highly decorated quarterback at McDonogh in the 1990s. "I think everyone knows who Muggsy Bogues is, Reggie Lewis. … A lot of people don't know that they all played on the same high school basketball team. They all grew up together in East Baltimore. So to me it was just one of those special stories that haven't been told on a national level. And it's great to be able to get it out there." 

Sabelhaus said he and his team could've put out four or five hours worth of material, but they're  proud of the final 90-minute version. 

"I think we told the story accurately, and I think everyone is really going to enjoy it," he said.

ESPN Films' "30 for 30" series has received critical acclaim throughout the years for its extensive looks into big-time national stories, such as "O.J.: Made In America," but also for shining a light on stories that had not received national attention. Sabelhaus said "Baltimore Boys" was a story that resonated with ESPN producers.

Sabelhaus worked with two directors for "Baltimore Boys." One, Sheldon Candis, grew up in Baltimore before moving to North Carolina when he was 12. Sabelhaus thought the Baltimore ties made Candis a no-brainer for the film.

"I kind of pitched it to him," Sabelhaus said. "He was like, 'This is the story I've always wanted to tell.' So that was great."

The second director, Marquis Daisy, didn't have Baltimore ties, but he did direct the "30- for 30" film "Rand University" on former NFL wide receiver Randy Moss, and he is a basketball aficionado, Sabelhaus said.

"He loved the story, too, and we just put those two guys together and they worked well together," Sabelhaus said. 

In addition to the film's focus on the stellar basketball program that propelled Dunbar to incredible athletic heights in the early 1980s -- the Poets went 59-0 during a two-season stretch, and 11 players from those teams went on to Division I college basketball, with several making it to the NBA -- Sabelhaus said it also would showcase the adversity the players went through growing up in East Baltimore. 

"There was a lot of crime, a lot of drugs, and these guys, with Bob Wade as this Vince Lombardi-type of character, he was able to protect these guys, shepherd these guys, coach these guys, mentor these guys and build this program that went on to do phenomenal things," Sabelhaus said. 

"To have four guys on one high school basketball team go on and play in the NBA, it's a phenomenal feat," Sabelhaus added, "but when we dig deep into where these guys come from, it's very unique and very special."

Photo Credit: Courtesy of ESPN Films

For more from Sabelhaus, listen to the full interview here :