Another intriguing documentary has arrived in the latest series of “30 for 30” films on ESPN: “The Dominican Dream,” a look at Felipe Lopez’s basketball career, which failed to approach its Sports Ilustrated-cover hype (November 1995).

Assuming that the “Dominican Jordan” required redemption for his subpar results, Lopez has earned this with ongoing good works in the Dominican Republic, primarily in his hometown of Santiago.

Lopez moved with his family to New York at 14, became the city’s leaping legend of schoolboy basketball, and stayed there to play at St. John’s.

There’s a scene that makes you cringe at the announcement: Someone had placed out of view a headband with a scrawny feather, and Lopez placed it on his head to reveal he would playing for the St. John’s Redmen (now Red Storm).

The 6-foot-5 Lopez played 114 games in four seasons at St. John’s. As it turned out, he couldn’t shoot (41.5% in college) and averaged 16.9 points.

St. John’s made its only NCAA tournament in his senior season. Lopez is shown lying on the court in a silly display of disappointment after missing a potential winning shot in his only NCAA game: A 66-64 loss to Detroit Mercy.

The bad-breaks angle is hit hard in tales such as this, and part of the spin here is Lopez was on the cusp of an NBA breakthrough with the Timberwolves until he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

That occurred on Oct. 19, 2002, when Lopez collided with Boston’s Paul Pierce in an exhibition game in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This came nine days after the Wolves had played an exhibition in the Dominican Republic, where Lopez was given a hero’s welcome.

The Wolves had signed Lopez after he was released by Washington on Jan. 31, 2001. He started 10 of the 23 games for the injury-plagued Wolves in the stretch of that playoff season. He returned as a backup for 67 games in 2001-02, averaging 8.7 minutes, 2.5 points and shooting 37.8%.

Then came the knee injury. That ended Felipe’s chance to remain a backup, not a late-emerging NBA star.


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