Top 5 Best NBA Documentaries
Watch and learn; the more you know about basketball, the more success – and fun – you’ll have NBA betting at Bovada Sportsbook. That’s why we’ve put together our top five list of the best NBA documentaries to put in your queue, starting with the most famous of them all.
The Last Dance
This miniseries about Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls was produced by ESPN Films and Netflix. It was released in 2020 to great fanfare and critical acclaim. This was Jordan’s last season with the Bulls, who were on the verge of breaking apart after years of unparalleled success on the court.
The story isn’t limited to Jordan’s last championship run. You see the evolution of both His Airness and the Bulls from his arrival in 1984; there’s tons of game footage from important moments in NBA playoff history, and compelling interviews from 90 people, including key teammates Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, as well as head coach Phil Jackson.
Part of the ESPN 30 for 30 series, this 2014 film looks at the Detroit Pistons and their path to back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990. You can see many of the same elements featured in The Last Dance – Jordan’s Bulls lost to Detroit in the Eastern Conference Finals both those years. This time, you get the perspective of the titular “Bad Boys” themselves, most notably Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer and head coach Chuck Daly.
This Pistons team earned its nickname; they played in one of the dirtiest and most violent eras in NBA history, dragging the league past the popular ‘80s rivalry between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers before themselves being eclipsed by Jordan and the Bulls.
Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals
Speaking of the Celtics and Lakers, their battles helped take the NBA to a whole new level, with a particular emphasis on the parallel careers of Celtics forward Larry Bird and Lakers guard Earvin “Magic” Johnson. This 2010 HBO Films documentary won a Peabody Award for its deep dive into the growing relationship between Bird and Magic, starting with their encounter at the 1979 NCAA championship game. The series explores how the relationship builds throughout their battles in the ‘80s, with the Celtics winning three titles that decade (1981, 1984, 1986) and the Lakers five (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988).
This documentary is extra-important because it shows the role that race played in the portrayal of the Magic-Bird rivalry, and how the two overcame those stereotypes to build both a long-lasting friendship and the incredibly successful NBA that we know and love today.
Shut Up and Dribble
For a closer look at what players have dealt with more recently, this 2018 three-part series from Showtime examines how the NBA has grown into the most progressive of the major North American leagues, and how superstars like LeBron James and Kevin Durant continue to shape the narrative surrounding politics and sports.
The title comes from the response by Fox News host Laura Ingraham to an interview James did with Durant on ESPN, where James questioned then-President Donald Trump’s understanding of regular Americans and their concerns. This is a simple yet effective documentary outlining the basic issues the NBA and its players have faced – and continue to face – on the road to integration. Watching this will give you a better understanding of what these players go through in their daily lives, and how that can affect both their on-court performance and the opinions of the larger betting market.
Sonicsgate: Requiem for a Team
To understand the business of the NBA at an even deeper level, don’t miss this 2009 documentary (which was widely broadcast by CNBC in 2012) about the relocation of the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City, where they are now known as the Thunder. This was a highly controversial move to say the least, one spurred by corporate greed and political machinations.
Not only do you get an unflinching critique of how business is handled in the NBA, you also get to meet some of the players behind the 1995-96 Sonics team that faced Jordan’s Bulls in the NBA Finals, including Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp. The soundtrack (featuring “SuperSonics” by Presidents of the United States of America, plus a who’s who of hip-hop artists from the Pacific Northwest) is a must-listen as well. These tunes will definitely get you fired up for your next round of NBA betting at Bovada Sportsbook – and for the eventual return of NBA basketball to Seattle.
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