Michael Jordan is the most renowned figure in the history of the NBA. Six NBA Championships and five MVP awards allowed Air Mike to stand apart from his colleagues, producing a level of brilliance that has not been matched on the court.
As a result, there was a demand to know the entire story of Jordan’s NBA career and his successful move into becoming an entrepreneur. The Last Dance (ESPN, 2020) documented Jordan’s rise from his college days in North Carolina and his early struggles for a title with the Chicago Bulls. The documentary also goes into The Bulls’ eventual dominance with him in tandem with Scotty Pippen before the end of his tenure in the Windy City.
One Man and His Shoes broke down the story of Jordan’s deal with Nike, creating the most popular sports footwear brand in the world. The documentary was a success, although, unlike The Last Dance, it did not include interviews with the man himself.
Jordan remains a fascinating figure, but now that his stories have been told the question is who will be the next NBA legend to get the serial documentary treatment.
The late Kobe Bryant should certainly be at the top of the list. His sad passing in a helicopter accident in early 2020 shook the entire NBA and the wider community across the United States. Bryant already had a documentary made about his career — produced by Showtime — while he was still active in the NBA However, it was only 83 minutes and lacked the depth of quality that was produced by Netflix and ESPN Films about Jordan.
Bryant enjoyed almost as much success as Jordan on the court. Both played under the legendary Phil Jackson and had iconic team-mates. Whereas Jordan had Pippen, Bryant had Shaquille O’Neal alongside him during the Lakers’ run to five titles. There are enough stories in the relationship between Shaq and Kobe to make a documentary series on its own. The 18-time All-Star was just beginning a fascinating career off the court before his life and many others in the helicopter were taken too soon. His legacy on the court and off it deserves a showcase by ESPN and Netflix to ensure that future generations can appreciate his talent.
James is the closest player that has come to toppling Jordan’s legacy as the GOAT. At the age of 35, he still has time on his side to win the six titles that Jordan claimed during his career, and the Lakers are backed as the favorites in the basketball odds to win the NBA Championship in the 2020/21 season. LeBron’s story is intriguing as he was drafted straight out of high school by the Cleveland Cavaliers – his hometown team. He endured years of frustration with the franchise in his bid to win his first crown – not too dissimilar from Jordan’s story.
The decision to move to the Miami Heat to form the Big Three with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade was seismic. It allowed the Heat to win back-to-back titles before he returned home to Cleveland in 2014. LeBron ended Cleveland’s drought without a title – across all the leading sports teams in the city – when he and the Cavaliers halted the Golden State Warriors’ dominant charge.
Frustration returned as the Warriors earned revenge in the next two Finals before his move out west to Los Angeles. LeBron wrote another page in his storied career by winning the fourth title of his career alongside Anthony Davis. The forward is not done yet and is developing a fascinating persona off the court with his entrepreneurial skills as well as foraying into the world of politics. Once he calls time on his career, ESPN and Netflix better get the production going.