By Oisin McQueirns & Michael Corry
With ESPN’s sensational ‘The Last Dance’ documentary about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls coming towards its conclusion, sports fans will require something to fill the void.
The Last Dance has captivated audiences across the globe since episode one and two dropped on April 19th with the story of the 90s Bulls and Jordan’s incredible career making it one of the most talked-about documentaries in years.
But for those who have caught the basketball bug, what’s next?
Here we take a look a five of the best basketball documentaries to watch after ‘The Last Dance’.
A true innovator when he arrived in the NBA, Allen Iverson disrupted the culture as much as any player ever has during his time in the league, and ‘Iverson’ expertly chronicles his career and life outside of the court.
Iverson was often portrayed in a negative fashion by the sports media during his time in the NBA as he broke the mould of what a player should say and how they should look, but his style proved to be a seismic influence on today’s game.
A flawed genius on and off the court, Iverson won the league’s MVP and Rookie of the Year but never managed to lead any of his teams to a coveted NBA Championship despite his clear talent.
The documentary doesn’t skirt from documenting the struggles in Iverson’s life and does a brilliant job of humanising a true icon of the game of basketball.
I Hate Christian Laettner
The tale of one of the most talented but at the same time, the most hated basketball players in college history, I Hate Christian Laettner looks at the career of the former Duke standout and why he seemed to rub just about everyone up the wrong way.
During his time at Duke, Laettner led the Blue Devils to two national championships and broke numerous collegiate records but was widely despised by many fans and opposing players.
This ESPN 30 for 30 doc explores five different reasons behind so many people’s perceived hatred for Laettner even 20 years after the prime of his career and takes a personal look at the man and player behind the vitriol.
Laettner was also the only collegiate player selected for the 1992 Olympic basketball Dream Team for America, before going on to have somewhat of an underwhelming NBA career.
A unique story, ideal for those who prefer to root for the villain.
The Carter Effect
A documentary that explores the cultural and societal impact of Vince Carter’s arrival in the NBA in conjunction with his basketball career, The Carter Effect is a true hidden gem.
Half-man, half-amazing landed in Toronto in 1998 during a time when the city’s franchise were only five years in existence and the sport of basketball largely uninterested the general population in Canada.
Carter’s exciting and eye-catching brand of basketball, including his now-iconic appearance in the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk contest, led to an increased spotlight on Toronto and grew the sport’s popularity throughout the city and the country.
He represented a cultural shift in a city unlike any seen by an NBA player in history, building Toronto into a steady franchise and laying the groundwork for their eventual first Championship in 2019.
Carter’s highlights are a simple yet extremely effective way of hooking you into the documentary while hearing sit-down interviews with the likes of Drake, who speaks on Carter’s influence on his own life, add so much.
A must for any sports fan.
The Fab Five
This documentary explores the University of Michigan’s 1991 recruiting class, widely regarded as the greatest recruitment class of all time.
The class consisted of Detroit natives Chris Webber and Jalen Rose, Chicago native Juwan Howard, and two recruits from Texas: Jimmy King and Ray Jackson. With four of the five ranked among the top 10 prospects in America, the year marked the first time ever that four All-Americans declared for the one school.
Eventually, all five would become starters on the team, a feat so rare it had never been seen before. The “Fab Five” were seen as trendsetters, yet controversial and all-five became the focal point in the University of Michigan’s run to the NCAA Basketball Championship finals.
At the time, the most successful basketball documentary ever produced by ESPN, this is an absolute must-watch for fans.
Look, it’s as simple as this. If you are watching and enjoying ‘The Last Dance’, then your next port of call for balance alone should by ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary entitled ‘Bad Boys‘ which tells the story of the back-to-back NBA Champions, the Detroit Pistons.
It’s fair to say they are not portrayed in the best of lights throughout the ongoing Netflix docu-series, however, a fresh narrative is put on the team and in particular, star player, Isiah Thomas in this riveting ESPN film.
Few teams in professional sports history elicit such a wide range of emotions as the Detroit Pistons of the late 1980s and early ’90s. For some, they were heroic — made up of gritty, hard-nosed players who didn’t back down from anyone.
For others, that willingness to do seemingly anything to win made them the “Bad Boys,” the team fans loved to hate.