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ESPN Films’ next SEC “Storied” documentary, Miracle 3, will premiere on Sunday, March 3, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPNU. The film chronicles the dramatic events that ensued after a tornado hit downtown Atlanta as the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament was being played at the Georgia Dome.
About Miracle 3
On March 14, 2008, Alabama found itself trailing Mississippi State 59-56 in the final seconds of the first quarterfinal game of the evening session. Crimson Tide guard Mykal Riley sank a desperation three-pointer as time expired, sending the game into overtime. That shot not only extended Alabama’s season for the moment, but it may have prevented thousands of fans from pouring into the city streets just as a tornado touched down outside the Georgia Dome a few minutes later.
Though no one in the Georgia Dome was injured, the building felt the effects of the twister. Enough damage was done to the Georgia Dome to not only delay the completion of the Alabama-Mississippi State game and eventually cause a postponement of the last quarterfinal game of the day, but also to force SEC officials to find a new home to finish the tournament on schedule. Ultimately the University of Georgia Bulldogs, who finished last in the regular season, managed to win three games in a 30-hour period to earn the conference’s automatic NCAA Tournament berth.
In Miracle 3, director Rory Karpf explores how a stunning and potentially devastating weather event touched off a series of situations that tested all involved like never before.
Directed by Rory Karpf, Miracle 3 features interviews from various people involved in the events surrounding the tornado, including: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi St. and Georgia players and coaches, Georgia Dome executives, SEC executives and staff, game producers and broadcasters, referees, meteorologists and fans in the arena.
“SEC ‘Storied’ Series aims to illustrate defining moments, events and people in the Southeastern Conference, and Miracle 3 tells a unique story in the conference’s rich history,” says ESPN Films executive producer John Dahl. “The story’s ability to transcend sports makes the film a perfect addition to the series while diversifying the scope of films in the collection.”
Quotes from Miracle 3:
Broadcaster during Alabama/Mississippi State game, Joe Dean Jr., on the atmosphere when the tornado hit: “And at that moment we hear an unbelievable sound that sounds like a train riding over the top of the Georgia Dome…The entire building froze. Everybody stopped; the officials, the players the crowd and everybody looked up. Scaffolding was swaying back and forth, lights were swaying and it was very scary. And nobody really knew what to do.”
Meteorologist Paul Ossmann on the rarity of a tornado in Atlanta: “More than 90% of the tornadoes that hit America are in rural areas that no one ever sees. So to get one to hit in a populated area—not only that but a downtown area—is very rare.”
Georgia State Fire Marshal John Oxendine on if the game ended in regulation: “This could have been a massive human catastrophe had that game not gone into overtime and you had thousands and thousands of people milling the streets right where the center of that tornado came.”
Georgia Bulldogs player Dave Bliss on the team’s double-header: “If we acknowledge the fact that we just played a game and we’re tired, then we’re gonna lose. And we’re not going to be able to beat this team that slept all day and is already more talented than us. What’s stronger, your excuses or your desire?”
Ryan McGee, ESPN Senior Writer, on the outcome of the tournament: “The biggest winners in the ’08 tournament were Georgia. The second biggest winners were the people that work in that SEC office. Because what they pulled off was every bit as miraculous as what Georgia pulled off.”
Miracle 3 is also slated to air on Sunday, March 3, at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN.
ESPN Films launched the “Storied” documentary series in September 2011, presenting fans the opportunity to explore the rich athletic history of the Southeastern Conference. From extraordinary athletes and coaches to defining games and moments, the “Storied” series features films from the SEC’s recent and more distant past.
About ESPN Films
Created in March 2008, ESPN Films produces high-quality films showcasing compelling sports stories. In October 2009, ESPN Films launched the Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated 30 for 30 film series. Inspired by ESPN’s 30th Anniversary, the films that made up the series were a thoughtful and innovative reflection on the past three decades told through the lens of diverse and interesting sports fans and social commentators. Additional projects from ESPN Films include, among others, the critically acclaimed and Television Academy Honor-winning 16th Man, Cannes Film Festival official selection The Two Escobars, and the Peabody Award-winning Black Magic. More recent projects include Catching Hell, from Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney, and The Announcement, from filmmaker Nelson George. 30 for 30 Volume II has featured documentaries Broke, directed by Billy Corben, and 9.79*, directed by Daniel Gordon. For more information on 30 for 30, go to espn.com/30for30/.
SEC on ESPN
ESPN, Inc., and the Southeastern Conference entered into a landmark 15-year agreement for extensive football, men’s and women’s basketball, Olympic sports and conference championship content across multiple ESPN entities beginning with the 2009-10 academic year. As a result, ESPN Regional Television became the over-the-air syndication home for Southeastern Conference programming and the largest college sports syndication television package in the country. In 2012, SEC Network basketball games were distributed in 77 local television markets, representing 50.4 million homes, which is 44% of the U.S.; 2011 SEC Network football games were distributed in 99 local television markets, representing 79.1 million homes, which is 69% of the U.S.