Bud Greenspan Bud Greenspan

Universal Sports has announced plans for a nine-night celebration of legendary sports filmmaker Bud Greenspan, who passed away on Christmas Day at age 84 after battling Parkinson's disease. Greenspan is best known for his series of documentaries chronicling the Olympic Games, many of which are rarely seen anymore and are not currently available on DVD.

The tribute, which Universal Sports is dubbing "Nine Nights of Glory," begins Saturday (Jan. 1, 9/8c) with the iconic 16 Days of Glory: Los Angeles '84. "Bud Greenspan represented the spirit of the Olympics and his films captured the amazing accomplishments of Olympic athletes from all nations," says David Sternberg, CEO of Universal Sports, NBC's Olympic-themed digital channel. "We are honored to pay homage to such a distinguished filmmaker. His passing is a major loss to the Olympic movement, but he will live on forever through the majesty of his documentary films." (Click here to find the channel in your area, and here to see the full schedule of films, airing nightly through Jan. 9.)

Greenspan's homage to the L.A. Games set the tone for a quarter century of reverent Olympic storytelling, mixing narratives of superstars like gold-medal-winning gymnast Mary Lou Retton with less famous events, including the gut-wrenching quest of injured British distance runner David Moorcroft to avoid being lapped in the finals of the 5,000-meter run, an event in which he held the world record at the time.

"One of Bud's great skills, and he does it in victory and in defeat, is putting it into perspective without overdramatizing things," Moorcroft said in ESPN's 2008 documentary Bud Greenpsan: At the Heart of the Games. He had an amazing knack for spotting compelling stories as they emerged — and intimately documenting them — amidst the frenzy of an Olympic setting.

"When the media constantly feature certain athletes we look in different directions," Greenspan told TV Guide Magazine in 2009. "Every athlete has a story to be told. The networks do a fantastic job of covering the Olympics and therefore there must a reason for people to want to see our films. So we just tell stories."

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