Dunk or Die

Even in sports what is considered poetic or graceful/powerful really seems to capture people’s attention. One of the most popular sports moves is the dunk in basketball. A combination of power, artistry and skill it really is a wonder to watch when done well. So amazing that even people who don’t watch basketball find themselves watching clips of dunks on YouTube. The Dunk Competition at the NBA All-Star weekend is probably the most anticipated portion. Players like Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, Blake Griffin, Julius Erving (Dr. J), Shawn Kemp, and Dominique Wilkins really mastered the art of the dunk. And captured the attention of many on playgrounds around the world.

One of those was Kadour Ziani. Now, he is not exactly who you would think of when going through the Rolodex of top dunkers. The son of Algerian immigrants who grew up in France and started off life as a petty criminal, soon became known around many parts of the world as a master dunker. Yet due to his talent for dunking and single-mindedness, he carved out a name for himself.

After his parents arrived in France in the 1960s, Kadour and his many siblings had to do what it took to make ends meet. This often meant turning to crime. What ended up saving him from going completely down that dark path was basketball. Or more precisely, dunking. Growing up in northeastern France in Saint-Dizier, it seemed natural for a young Algerian boy to turn to playing soccer, but Kadour didn’t as he was bitten by the basketball bug. Actually, he was less of a basketball player and more of a dunk artist. Spending hour after hour on the court practicing incredible dunks.

Dunking became a real passion for the young man. It was a way for him to both express himself and escape the streets that beckoned him. His legend grew and soon Slam Nation came calling. The dunk show, which travelled the globe, brought Kadour into their fold and he became one of the stars due to his incredible abilities.

He captured the attention and devotion of fans in Europe, the Philippines and the United States. Or really, wherever Slam Nation toured in the 1990s. His dunks shook not only the rim but the walls they were that powerful. So impressive that even NBA stars like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were impressed.

To tell Kadour’s tale, director Nicolas de Virieu uses family photos, interviews with Kadour and his family members, archival footage, and images. It is not really a sports story, rather one of the transformation of a human being. What becomes clear is that Kadour’s life changed because of dunking. How the way he felt about his own life and childhood changed once she saw how others lived across the world. How he used this to connect with the fans who came to watch him dunk. An interesting look at how fans can really influence the athlete.

Dunk or Die is now available on all major digital platforms in the U.S. and Canada.