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Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

Ice Cube is a Raiders romantic

Here is a quick look at the three films in the Tribeca/ESPN festival that are part of the "30 for 30" series.

I'll have more detailed looks at each of them as we get closer to their TV dates.

Ice Cube's "Straight Outta L.A.," set for May 11 on ESPN, is a mostly lighthearted, entertaining look at the relationship between the Raiders' arrival in Los Angeles and the city's hip hop culture in the 1980s.

One of the highlights is a rare sitdown Mr. Cube scored with owner Al Davis, who is at his creepy old man best.

The pioneering rapper makes some compelling points about how the Raiders represented the gritty L.A. most Americans don't see or think about.

But he also overstates the team's stop in southern California in terms of its overall history. "To me the Raiders moving to Los Angeles changed the world," he says in the film.

That sort of senitment is natural, given that Ice Cube, 40, came of age during that period. For those of us older and younger than him, the L.A. years were a weird side trip for a team most associated with Oakland.

"The Two Escobars," which debuts June 22, in the heart of the World Cup tournament, is the most powerful of the 15 "30 for 30" films I have seen so far.

It covers the relationship between the worst of Colombia's drug era in the early 1990s and its rising soccer program of that era, culminating with its qualification for the 1994 World Cup.

The Escobars of the title are the notorious drug lord Pablo and the soccer player Andres, whose own goal against the United States in '94 had awful consequences, on and off the field.

Most of the film is in Spanish, but the subtitles are easily readable and the translation sharp.

One of the stars is the eloquent Colombian coach Francisco Maturana, who offers this explanation for the team visiting Pablo Escobar for a private soccer game at his prison compound:

"If Don Vito Corleone invites me to dinner, I show up." 

"The Birth of Big Air," produced by Spike Jonze and set to appear later this year, focuses on the career of pioneering BMX rider Mat Hoffman and his spectacularly reckless experiments in achieving new heights on his bicycle with the aid of vertical ramps.

There is a certain morbid fascination in observing the inevitable carnage.

"If I died with a body that wasn't completely wrecked, I'd feel like I completely wasted it," Hoffman says.

Tags: ESPN

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