by Aveline MacQuoid on June 22, 2021

in Extras

Best NBA Movies, Films, and
Documentaries That You Can’t Miss

Basketball is one of the most popular sports played around the world. And with 2.2 billion fans claiming to be avid followers of the game, it’s earned the status of being the third most popular sport according to the latest research figures from sportshow.

The NBA has reaped the rewards of the games widespread appeal, enjoying unmitigated success and growth in popularity and viewership in recent years. Of course, that’s partly down to the fast-paced nature of the game itself that makes it fun to play and equally fun to watch. Nevertheless, the league made a commitment to expand its brand outside of the United States and it’s fair to say that it has done its job rather well, having captured the imagination and support of many fans globally.

Few businesses are as good at sniffing out opportunity as the film industry is. The rise in basketball’s popularity is just one of those opportunities that the industry pounced on with enthusiasm, Of course, not everything that Hollywood touches turns to gold, but over the years, a number of fine productions have gone to market— encompassing fictional movies, short films, and docuseries.

Here we highlight a few gems that are worth watching if you haven’t had the chance to yet.

1. Dear Basketball, Short Film

Kobe Bryant became the first former professional athlete to be nominated for and win an Oscar after his short film ‘Dear Basketball’ won the award for the Best Animated Short Film at the 90th Academy Awards in 2018.

The Los Angeles Lakers legend wrote and narrated the film ‘Dear Basketball’, which was based on a poem he’d written as a farewell to the sport he loved upon his retirement from the game at the end of the 2015-16 season. The poem was published in The Players Tribune that same year and tells the story of a young boy living out his basketball dreams.

It’s a poignant ode to the game that served him well, brought him fame, success and carried him to five Larry O’Brien trophies over his storied career before it was capped off by his posthumous induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in May, 2021. Bryant sadly died in a tragic helicopter crash in January, 2020.

The six-minute film is a beautiful illustration of the poem’s inherent message: time precious. Recognising that his body can’t hold up for much longer and that retirement was inevitable. In his acceptance speech, Bryant said “As basketball players we’re really supposed to shut up and dribble. I’m glad we’re doing much more than that.”

2. The Last Dance: The Untold Story of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls

Netflix’s The Last Dance docuseries co-produced by ESPN follows Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls over the course of their final championship season in 1997-98 as they capped off their incredible run-in line with the nba odds to win the Larry O-Brien Trophy one last time.

The instant this tell-all documentary was announced, fans were clamouring for it to drop. And it couldn’t have come at a better time than it did, during the height of the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic when everything was shuttered and swathes of populations were stuck at home, shielding and self-isolating with nothing to do but sit on the couch and consume television shows or any other indoor activity as allowed.

It didn’t disappoint to say the least, giving fans an unfettered, raw and honest look at what is by all accounts one of the greatest teams to have ever graced the sport of basketball. During that final championship winning season, as it so happens, an NBA Entertainment film crew was allowed to follow the Bulls for the entire season and that original and priceless footage became the foundation of this 10-part documentary as it explored Michael Jordan and the Bulls at the height of their dynasty.

Not surprisingly, it was well received and nominated for three awards. In the race for best Documentary or Nonfiction Series, “The Last Dance” squared off against rival documentaries in the category — from “Tiger King,” “McMillion$,” “Hillary” and “American Masters.” Although it was quite the formidable field comprised of excellent documentaries in their own right, “The Last Dance” ultimately won the Emmy for Best Documentary at the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards

3. Shut Up and Dribble

The three-part documentary, “Shut Up and Dribble” released in 2018 and named after the outrageous phrase uttered by a Fox News host who took issue with Kevin Durant and LeBron James at the time follows the social and political climates among athletes in America. The documentary is narrated by Jemele Hill and explores how far NBA players have come from the early days of the NBA to move to the forefront of social issues and political activism today with players like LeBron James leading the charge and setting an example of what it means to be a professional basketball player in today’s world.

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