With COVID-19 resulting in the suspension of the NBA, among other major sports leagues, fans have deeply missed watching live sports. To fill the void, many have turned to the past, reminiscing in what once was.
ESPN and Netflix released the documentary series “The Last Dance” months earlier than originally planned to answer fans’ demands for more sports content. Perhaps no other sports program has caught on with home-bound audiences as much as this one. The documentary about the 1997-1998 Chicago Bulls team has struck a nostalgic chord for many viewers, while introducing others to the greatness of Michael Jordan through never-before-seen footage.
Following the success of “The Last Dance,” news came out that former NBA star Dwayne Wade has been working on a documentary about the 2008 USA Basketball “Redeem Team,” and that Kobe Bryant’s final NBA season was covered by an all-access film crew. Other basketball documentaries are rumored to be on the horizon, and with so many memorable teams throughout the years, the NBA’s history books are ripe for the picking.
So, without further ado, here are the top five NBA teams that deserve the next great documentary.
Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s one of the most fun teams ever assembled. With his electric passing skills and dynamic range, Johnson dazzled Great Western Forum crowds. Abdul-Jabbar’s dominant scoring ability made the team must-see television and LA’s rivalry with the Boston Celtics remains one of the best in sports. The only things keeping the Lakers off this list are their well-documented past and a relative lack of the off-court drama needed to hold viewers in suspense.
5. “Splash Brothers” era of the Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors, led by sharpshooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, have so many interesting storylines to choose from. From Jerry West threatening to resign over a reported trade of Thompson for then-Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, to an NBA-record 73-win season and blowing a 3-1 Finals lead. There is still more, however, including signing superstar forward Kevin Durant and upsetting the competitive balance of the league, to finally falling in last season’s NBA Finals. This franchise is rich in potential — and with Durant fleeing this offseason and the Warriors currently sitting in last-place among all teams, their story isn’t over yet.
4. “Bad Boys” Detroit Pistons
This team was briefly covered in the third and fourth episodes of “The Last Dance,” but there is so much left to unpack. As an underdog team that rose to the top of the Eastern Conference during the late 1980s, the “Bad Boys” epitomized a new level of toughness in the NBA. Led by characters such as Isiah Thomas, Dennis Rodman and Bill Laimbeer, the Pistons are known for the “Jordan Rules” strategy they deployed to stop the Bulls’ superstar. With fans already getting a taste of the rivalry that is still apparent between the Pistons and their rivals through “The Last Dance,” a more in-depth look at the team could be fascinating to watch.
3. “Big Three” Miami Heat
In the summer of 2010, LeBron James famously took his talents to South Beach to join forces with Wade and Chris Bosh. “The Decision” was just the beginning. The trio quickly became the team to root against and initial stumbles had many questioning Lebron’s legacy. While the team did win two championships in four Finals appearances, some still say that the team underachieved given the way they originally boasted about how many trophies they would claim. While LeBron would eventually leave Miami to return to Cleveland in 2014, his Heat teams are still remembered among the NBA’s best. A look at both how the team formed and how it fell would be something special.
2. Kobe and Shaq’s Lakers
There is perhaps no teammate rivalry more well-known in sports than that between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. While together, the duo was dominant, leading the Lakers to three consecutive NBA titles. But their relationship was tumultuous, to put it lightly – disputes over who was the alpha male, ignored calls for the basketball, trade demands and public rap disses were only part of the story. The rivalry never truly ended, continuing when Shaq was traded to the Heat and beyond until both players had retired. With Bryant’s tragic death this past January, fans have been searching for more stories from his legendary career. His feud with Shaq might just be the most defining.
1. Oklahoma City Thunder’s young trio
The Oklahoma City Thunder blew up a team that had three future MVPs on the roster right when they were on the cusp of greatness. After moving from Seattle, the NBA’s newest team needed a young, nuclear core that would energize Chesapeake Energy Arena. It came in the form of Durant, along with guards Russell Westbrook and James Harden. While the team failed to dethrone Miami’s “Big Three” in their lone Finals appearance, it seemed that they were poised to take over in due time. In moves that stunned the collective NBA world, Harden was traded to Houston and Durant left for Golden State. Many fans still wonder what could have been had the trio stayed together, and a documentary might just provide the closure we need.
Kabir Rao covers men’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].