“88” – The Year the Arizona Wildcats Basketball Legacy Began


We recently heard about a new film documentary in production by Regality Media about the famous 1988 Arizona Wildcats Basketball season and we wanted to find out more about it.

Arizona Wildcats
Arizona Wildcats /

Arizona Wildcats

This exciting new documentary is being co-produced and co-directed by two former Arizona Wildcats Brad Malone and Sean P. Malone. Brad lives in Tucson and graduated from Arizona in 2000 with a B.A. in Journalism while Sean lives in Orange County California and graduated from Arizona in 2003 with a B.A. in Communication.

Sean also went on to obtain an MFA in film production from the University of Miami and is now a cinematographer and an independent producer, Brad is a sports show producer and a host of the late night sports show Sportsbeat on Tucson Community Cable.

The film ’88 is a feature-length documentary about the 1988 Arizona Wildcats basketball team, and that program’s unlikely and fantastic rise under former head coach Lute Olson. Here is the official teaser trailer:

We sat down with Sean to find out more about his film.

ZZ: We are assuming you two are related, both having the last name Malone, is that true?  If so does it make it easier or more challenging to work together?

Sean: We are in fact brothers. We work well together because we trust each other, and we both have different strengths which compliment the other’s.

ZZ: Does the fact that you are both Arizona Alumni add to your excitement in producing and directing this film? What feelings do you have when you interview your Arizona Legends?

Sean: Absolutely. Of course we strive to be professional during our interviews, but our inner fans can sometimes come out. We ask every interviewee to sign a special ball we carry around as just another way to capture the memories.

ZZ: Any funny or poignant stories thus far from this experience? 

Sean: We had the privilege of interviewing Steve Kerr at his home in Southern California. While we were setting up, we asked Steve if he had any folding chairs. He said, “Sure thing.” Moments later he produced two plush folding chairs that said  “Chicago Bulls: 1998 NBA Champions” on them. To Steve they were just a couple of chairs he had lying around, but to us, they were precious sports artifacts!

Filmmakers Sean P. Malone (left) and Brad Malone (right) pose with Sean Elliott (center) after interviewing the former NBA All-Star in Phoenix earlier this year. (Photo by Sean P. Malone)

ZZ: What’s the most difficult part of putting this film together?

Sean: Having patience. The process of collecting interviews is long, but will certainly be worth it in the end.

“88” The Documentary artwork is an original painting by Sean Rangel. He is a Tucson native.

ZZ:  I didn’t see you list Harvey Mason Jr. as people you are going to interview, you know his son Trey plays on the current team for Coach Sean Miller?

Sean: We definitely want to interview Harvey (and the entire ’87-’88 team)!

ZZ: Will you be including fans in your film? I know there was a fan and twitter follower of ours who has a ton of collectibles from that era; Jimmy Sutanto (@sujantoj).

Sean: There will definitely be a fan element in the film. A big part of this story is what it meant and continues to mean to Tucson and the fans. We could not think of making the movie without including those perspectives.

ZZ: What is your goal or goals of making the film?

Sean:  To show the world (in the words of a well-known lyric), that “Tucson, Arizona is a basketball town.”

It was just such an incredible season, and era of basketball. The impact of that season is still resonating in Tucson and beyond.

ZZ: How do you think the 1988 Wildcats have affected the future Wildcats and Coach Sean Miller’s program?

Sean: Every great college basketball program has a rich legacy of excellence. In many ways, for Arizona, the ’87-’88 team was the beginning of that legacy.

ZZ: We all know how very special Lute Olson is, what do you think he taught his players like Steve Kerr that makes him now such a successful coach?

Sean: Lute taught the game so well, that many of his former players are now coaches and broadcasters with a very high basketball IQ.

ZZ: Do you wear your Arizona Fan Gear while filming and doing business for this film?

Sean: I’m the cameraman, so I usually wear my industry-standard black t-shirt. My brother is the interviewer, and he has been known to sport his Arizona gear from time to time (and his signature San Diego Padres cap).

More from Wildcats Basketball

ZZ: Who had the idea for the film, and how did the project get funded?

Sean: My brother Brad is extraordinarily knowledgable about the program’s history, and he came up with the idea over five years ago. I came on a couple of years later after finishing film school, because I saw the huge potential in this story. Up to this point we have gotten by being self funded, but we plan on launching a Kickstarter campaign in the very near future!

ZZ: How far into the future are you taking the film? Is it just about the year 1988?

Sean: The main focus is the 1987-’88 team, but you can’t tell that story without showing what kind of shape the program was in prior to that, and how the program continued to rise to prominence afterward.

ZZ: What are you each most proud of that you have accomplished in your career so far?

Sean: I don’t know if it’s pride exactly, but we are both so thrilled with the response ’88 has gotten! We’re amazed (and yet not surprised) by the passion and excitement with which our project has been met so far.

On location shooting the ’88 trailer last month, Sean P. Malone (center) directs actor Carl Kennedy (right) while crew member Mustan Dawood (left) prepares sound. (Photo by Teresa Gardner)

ZZ: What do you want Arizona Wildcat fans to know about the film?

Sean: What’s contained in the film. We want the new generation of Wildcat fans to know how it all started, why it’s so important to people, and to feel the joy the rest of us did at “the beginning.”

ZZ: Anything else we didn’t cover? 

Sean: Keep an eye on our website (Wildabout88.com), Facebook (Facebook.com/wildabout88) and Twitter (@wildabout88 ) for news on our upcoming Kickstarter campaign!

We will Sean, Beardown and thanks for your time!

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