The Upcoming Year’s Biggest Basketball Documentaries


In the world of professional basketball, the winners don’t just write history—they star in it. NBA documentaries have been turning into major media productions, with enough fans lining up to see them to give Hollywood a run for its money. Herein, we take a look at the newest NBA documentaries to hit the “coming soon” section so you know what to look out for next.


The draft class of ‘84 counted among its ranks more legends than any other draft that came before or after it, making it one of the strongest NBA drafts in all history. On that fateful day, former commissioner David Stern (officiating his first-ever NBA draft) would call up Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and John Stockton among several future superstars. The rest, as they say, is history. THE84DRAFT focuses on this momentous part of basketball history, and will be narrated by none other than Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash. The original film is set to air June 9 on NBA TV.


LeBron James’ docu-drama hit pre-production
Early this month, news surfaced that LeBron James is going to be at the centre of an HBO docu-drama chronicling his early life as a high school basketball player. Currently, producers Terence and Rachel Winter (the former of Boardwalk Empire and The Wolf of Wall Street fame) are picking a script for a total of four potential sources and pre-production is about to start. According to Deadline Hollywood, the script is expected to focus on LeBron’s journey from Akron, Ohio to Los Angeles, and even take a look at how his teammates coped with the superstar’s sudden fame. No word yet on when the film is set to drop.


Photo: Getty Images

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s HBO documentary
HBO Sports has greenlit a new documentary featuring the life and times of Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Director Ron Yassen will take the horns on an effort that attempts a more in-depth look into Abdul-Jabbar’s life than most media accounts currently portray—partly due to the former NBA player’s somewhat hostile relationship with the press. Points of interest include the 67-year-old’s social and cultural achievements on and off the court. The doc’s in production and principal photography is already underway in LA, with an expected release date in early 2015.


Photo: Joanna McLendon

John McLendon, Kansas’ Forgotten Coach
Andrew Wiggins and other Kentucky University college basketball players have a lot to live up to, thanks in part to one man: John McLendon. The Broken Fence Film Ranch of Atchison and Rockhaven Films are teaming up to bring his amazing story to life with their upcoming historical doc. The coach, enshrined in the Hall of Fame for his prowess, was the last known protege of the inventor of basketball, James Naismith, and literally wrote the book on fast breaks (Fast Break Basketball: Fundamentals and Fine Points). He was also instrumental to bringing African American players into the professional sport. Set to release in late 2015, the film will include interviews with Milton Katz, McLendon’s biographer, and former KU players Bud Stallworth and Wayne Simien.


Nash: A Documentary Film
Although attempts to secure crowdsourced funding provided an uncertain start for Nash: A Documentary Film, Michael Hamilton’s inside look at basketball’s finest Renaissance man is nearing a U.S. release. The doc has only had limited screenings in some Canadian cities, but already its stirring account of Nash’s rise from British Columbian teen to citizen of the world is making waves. It touches on a bit of everything: Nash’s NBA career, his two films, his humanitarian efforts and his family life, to name only a few. Interviews include Barack Obama, Owen Wilson and other A-listers with personal connections to the superstar. A wide theatrical release in the U.S. is expected sometime before the 2014-15 season tips off, although you can grab it on iTunes right now.


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