The National Basketball Association (NBA) has a rich history and is one of the most popular sports leagues in the world. Over the years, many documentaries have been made to capture the drama, excitement, and memorable moments of the NBA. These documentaries provide an in-depth look into the lives of the players, coaches, and teams, offering a unique perspective into the world of professional basketball.
Some NBA documentaries focus on specific events, such as the All-Star Game, the Dunk Contest, and the Three-Point Contest, while others explore the careers of legendary players like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and LeBron James. There are also documentaries that examine the behind-the-scenes action of the NBA, such as the draft process and the journey of young players trying to make it to the professional level.
In addition to exploring the lives of players and teams, many NBA documentaries also delve into the social and cultural impact of the sport. These documentaries examine the role of basketball in society, the impact of race and ethnicity on the sport, and the business of the NBA.
Overall, NBA documentaries offer a unique way to experience the sport and gain insight into the lives of the players, coaches, and teams that make the NBA so exciting.
The 50 best NBA documentaries available for viewing:
- “The Last Shot” (2004) – This documentary follows the journey of the 2004 NBA draft class, including players such as Dwight Howard, Emeka Okafor, and Ben Gordon. It showcases the players’ high school and college careers, their preparation for the NBA draft, and their experiences on draft day. The film provides a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of these young athletes as they navigate the pressures and expectations of the NBA.
- “The Fab Five” (2011) – This documentary focuses on the University of Michigan’s “Fab Five” basketball team, which consisted of Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson. The film explores their rise to fame as one of the most dominant college basketball teams of the 1990s, their impact on the sport, and the controversy surrounding their legacies. “The Fab Five” features interviews with the players, coaches, and other key figures from the time period.
- “The Dream Team” (2012) – This documentary takes a closer look at the 1992 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team, also known as the “Dream Team.” The film examines the team’s impact on international basketball and the cultural significance of their dominant performance at the Summer Olympics in Barcelona. “The Dream Team” features interviews with the players, coaches, and others who were involved with the team, as well as archival footage from the games.
- “The First to Do It” (2018) – This documentary explores the life and career of Earl Lloyd, the first African American player to compete in an NBA game. The film takes a look at Lloyd’s journey from his childhood in Virginia, to his time playing in the Negro Leagues, and finally to his debut in the NBA. “The First to Do It” also examines the broader social and cultural context of the era and the impact Lloyd had on the sport of basketball and beyond.
- “Black and Blue: The Golden Arm and the Legend of Earl Monroe” (2018) – This documentary focuses on the life and career of NBA Hall of Famer Earl Monroe. The film covers Monroe’s journey from his childhood in Philadelphia, to his college career at Winston-Salem State, and finally to his legendary NBA career with the Baltimore Bullets and the New York Knicks. “Black and Blue” explores Monroe’s unique style of play and the impact he had on the sport of basketball.
- “Bad Boys” (2017) – This documentary explores the Detroit Pistons’ “Bad Boys” era, including their 1989 and 1990 NBA Championships and their intense rivalry with the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls. It features interviews with players, coaches, and other key figures from that time period.
- “Iverson” (2014) – This documentary tells the story of Allen Iverson’s life and career, from his childhood in Hampton, Virginia to his time as an NBA superstar. It features interviews with Iverson, his family, and his former coaches and teammates.
- “The 84 Draft” (2018) – This documentary looks back at the 1984 NBA Draft, which is widely regarded as one of the greatest drafts in NBA history. It features interviews with some of the biggest names from that draft class, including Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Charles Barkley.
- “Kobe Bryant’s Muse” (2015) – This film provides an in-depth look at the life and career of Kobe Bryant, one of the most iconic and influential players in NBA history. Through interviews with Bryant himself, as well as family members, coaches, and fellow players, the film explores Bryant’s motivations, drive, and unmatched competitiveness, and provides a rare glimpse into the mind of a true basketball legend.
- “The Carter Effect” (2017) – This documentary focuses on the life and career of Vince Carter, one of the most electrifying and dynamic players in NBA history. The film examines Carter’s impact on the game of basketball, his influence on a generation of young players, and the legacy he has left behind. Featuring interviews with players, coaches, and media members, “The Carter Effect” provides a captivating look at one of the most exciting players of the modern era.
- “One and Not Done” (2017) – This documentary takes a deep dive into the life and career of John Calipari, one of the most successful and controversial college basketball coaches of all time. The film features interviews with Calipari, former players, and other coaches, as well as behind-the-scenes footage of the Kentucky Wildcats basketball program. It provides insight into Calipari’s coaching style, his approach to recruiting, and his quest for success on and off the court.
- “Basketball County: In the Water” – This documentary explores the rich history of basketball in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and how it has become a hotbed for producing top-level NBA talent. The film showcases the unique culture, competition, and community that has molded many current and former NBA players.
- “The Association: Miami Heat” This documentary takes an in-depth look at the Miami Heat and the challenges they faced during the 2011-2012 season. It covers the team’s journey from the acquisition of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to their championship run. The documentary includes behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with players and coaches, and provides a unique perspective on the team’s dynamics and the challenges they faced.
- “The Kobe Bryant Story” This documentary explores the life and career of legendary NBA player Kobe Bryant. It covers his early years, his rise to fame, his numerous accomplishments, and his impact on the game of basketball. The documentary includes interviews with former teammates, coaches, and opponents, as well as highlights from some of his greatest moments on the court.
- “The Association: Shaq and Kobe” – This documentary offers an in-depth look at the iconic duo of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant during their time with the Los Angeles Lakers. It covers their incredible success on the court, their personalities and quirks off the court, and the rocky relationship between the two superstars.
- “Beyond the Glory: Tim Duncan” – This documentary highlights the career of Tim Duncan, one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history. It explores his journey from being a shy, unassuming player in college, to becoming one of the most dominant forces in the league. The documentary also delves into his impact on the game, his personal life, and his legacy.
- “The Art of the Dunk” – This film takes an in-depth look at the history of the dunk, from its origins in the early days of the sport to its evolution into one of the most exciting and spectacular plays in the game. The documentary features interviews with some of the greatest dunkers of all time, including Michael Jordan, Dr. J, and Shaquille O’Neal, and explores the impact that the dunk has had on the sport and its fans.
- “Beijing 2008: The U.S. Men’s Basketball Team’s Journey to Gold” (2009) – This documentary follows the 2008 USA Men’s Olympic Basketball Team as they compete in the Beijing Summer Olympics. It covers their preparation leading up to the games, their journey through the tournament, and their eventual gold medal victory. It provides an inside look at the team’s on-court strategy and the camaraderie they formed off the court.
- “The Last Shot: The Kurt Rambis Story” – This documentary provides an in-depth look at the career of former NBA player Kurt Rambis. It covers his journey from his college days at Santa Clara University to his time playing for the Los Angeles Lakers and his eventual coaching stints. The film provides an in-depth look at Rambis’ life, both on and off the court, including his relationships with his family, friends and fellow players.
- “Basketball: A Love Story” – This documentary provides a comprehensive history of the sport of basketball, from its origins in Springfield, Massachusetts to its current status as one of the world’s most popular sports. The film features interviews with some of the greatest players in the history of the game, including Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and many others. The film provides an in-depth look at the evolution of the sport and its impact on American culture.
- “The Other Dream Team” – This documentary tells the story of the 1992 Lithuanian national basketball team and their journey to the Barcelona Olympics. The film highlights the political and cultural significance of the team’s success, as well as the challenges they faced in a country emerging from Soviet rule.
- “Black Magic” – This film takes a look at the history of black college basketball and its impact on the sport and culture. From the first black college teams in the 1920s to the emergence of black players in the NBA, this documentary provides a comprehensive look at the history of black college basketball and its role in shaping the sport.
- “The Real All-American: The Bill Russell Story” – This documentary delves into the life and career of one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Bill Russell. From his early years growing up in Oakland to his 11 championship wins with the Boston Celtics, this documentary provides a comprehensive look at the legacy of a true icon in the world of basketball. With never-before-seen footage and interviews with some of the biggest names in the sport, this film is a must-watch for fans of the game.
- “The Last Shot: Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks” – This documentary, which aired on ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, takes a look at the journey of Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks as they made their way to the 2011 NBA Championship. The film details the team’s struggles, their key players, and the impact that Nowitzki had on the franchise and the game of basketball.
- “When the Garden Was Eden” – This film explores the glory days of the New York Knicks in the 1970s, and the talented roster of players that made them a force to be reckoned with, including Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, and Willis Reed.
- “Unbanned: The Legend of AJ1” – This documentary delves into the history and cultural impact of the Air Jordan 1 sneaker, and how it has become an iconic symbol in both the world of basketball and fashion.
- “The Last Shot: Dino Rađa and the 1992 Dream Team” (2018) – This film, also part of the ESPN Films 30 for 30 series, tells the story of Dino Rađa, a Croatian basketball star who played on the 1992 Dream Team. The documentary explores Rađa’s journey from war-torn Croatia to the 1992 Summer Olympics, where he was part of the legendary team that included Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird.
- “The Real Rocky” (2008) – This film, produced by ESPN, tells the story of Maurice Stokes, an all-star NBA player in the 1950s who suffered a career-ending injury and was left paralyzed. The film focuses on Stokes’ friendship with teammate Jack Twyman, who became his legal guardian and advocate, and highlights the impact Stokes had on the game of basketball and the fight for disability rights.
- “The Announcement” – This documentary covers the 1991 press conference in which Magic Johnson announced to the world that he had contracted HIV, and was retiring from the NBA. The film covers the impact of this announcement on both Johnson and the league, as well as his subsequent efforts to raise awareness about the disease and advocate for research.
- “The Association: Boston Celtics” – This documentary series follows the Boston Celtics during the 2011-2012 season as they strive to win their 18th championship. From the players and coaches to the front office, the series provides a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of one of the most storied franchises in NBA history.
- “The Last Shot: New York Knicks” (2017) – This documentary focuses on the Knicks’ playoff run during the 1999 season, including their dramatic Game 7 against the Miami Heat in the first round. The film features interviews with players such as Allan Houston, Latrell Sprewell, and head coach Jeff Van Gundy, as well as behind-the-scenes footage of the team’s preparation for the game.
- “The Knicks: A New Era” (2021) – This documentary explores the Knicks’ recent attempts to rebuild the team, including the hiring of new head coach Tom Thibodeau and the acquisition of star players such as Julius Randle and RJ Barrett. The film also looks at the Knicks’ history and the pressure facing the franchise to return to championship contention.
- “Lakers Dynasty: The History of the Lakers” – This documentary traces the history of one of the most storied franchises in NBA history, the Los Angeles Lakers, from their early days in Minneapolis to their current status as one of the league’s most dominant teams.
- “Showtime Lakers: The Magic Years” – This documentary focuses on the Lakers’ “Showtime” era of the 1980s, when the team dominated the league behind the play of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy. The documentary explores the team’s style of play, their impact on the game of basketball, and their lasting legacy in the NBA.
- “The Redeem Team” (2008)
- This film examines the 2008 United States Olympic Men’s Basketball Team and its journey to reclaim the gold medal after a disappointing performance in the 2004 Summer Olympics. It includes interviews with the players, coaches, and key figures in the sport, as well as behind-the-scenes footage from the team’s journey in Beijing.
- “Team USA: The Road to Gold” (2012)
- This documentary follows the 2012 United States Olympic Men’s Basketball Team as they compete in the Summer Olympics in London. The film provides an inside look at the team’s preparation and journey, including interviews with the players and coaches, as well as game footage from the tournament.
- “The NBA All-Star Game: A History” – This documentary takes a comprehensive look at the history of the NBA All-Star Game, from its inception in 1951 to present day. It features interviews with former and current players, coaches, and commentators, as well as highlights of the most memorable moments in All-Star Game history.
- “All-Star Weekend: Behind the Scenes” – This documentary takes a closer look at the events that take place during the All-Star Weekend, including the skills challenge, three-point contest, dunk contest, and of course, the All-Star Game itself. It provides an inside look at the preparations and excitement leading up to the main event.
- “The Greatest All-Stars of All Time” – This documentary focuses on the greatest players to have ever played in the NBA All-Star Game. It showcases their greatest moments and achievements, and delves into the impact they had on the game and the league as a whole.
- “The Last Shot: Michael Jordan’s Comeback” – This documentary takes a look at Michael Jordan’s comeback in the NBA after a short stint in baseball, focusing specifically on his final shot as a member of the Chicago Bulls in the 1998 NBA Finals.
- “LeBron James: A King’s Journey” – This documentary follows LeBron James through his journey as one of the greatest players of all time, showcasing his impact on the sport and his dedication to his craft.
- “Magic Johnson: A Love Story” – This documentary tells the story of Magic Johnson’s rise to fame, his battles with HIV, and his impact on the sport of basketball and society as a whole.
- “The Jordan Rules: The Inside Story of a Turbulent Season with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls” – This documentary provides a behind-the-scenes look at Michael Jordan’s final championship season with the Chicago Bulls, including the drama and controversy that surrounded the team.
- “LeBron James: Coming Home” – This documentary follows LeBron James’ return to Cleveland in 2014, and the impact his return had on the city and the Cavaliers franchise.
- “Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals” – This documentary explores the intense rivalry and friendship between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, two of the greatest players in NBA history.
- “The Dunk King” – This documentary showcases the top dunkers in the world competing in the NBA Dunk Contest. It provides an in-depth look at the history of the contest and the players who have made it iconic.
- “The Shot: The Greatest 3-Point Contest of All Time” – This documentary tells the story of the greatest 3-Point Contest of all time, which took place during the 1986 NBA All-Star Weekend. It includes interviews with players and coaches, as well as never-before-seen footage from the contest.
- “Draft Day: The Rise of the Modern NBA” – This documentary focuses on the NBA Draft and the impact it has on players, teams, and the league as a whole. It covers the history of the draft, the players who have been selected, and the impact they have had on the game.
- “Air Ball: A Basketball Journey” – This documentary takes a look at the evolution of the Dunk Contest and the impact it has had on the sport of basketball. It features interviews with former and current players, as well as highlights from some of the most memorable Dunk Contest moments.
- “The Best of the Best: The NBA Draft” – This documentary provides an in-depth look at the NBA Draft and the players who have been selected. It covers the history of the draft, the players who have been selected, and the impact they have had on the game.
Why are NBA documentaries so popular?
NBA documentaries have gained popularity for several reasons:
- Accessibility: With the growth of streaming services, it is easier for fans to access NBA documentaries from the comfort of their own homes.
- Fan Interest: Fans are passionate about the game of basketball and the stories behind their favorite players and teams. NBA documentaries tap into this interest and provide a behind-the-scenes look at the players, teams, and games that fans love.
- Storytelling: NBA documentaries often feature compelling storytelling and dramatic arcs that keep viewers engaged. From the rise of superstars to the ups and downs of teams, the stories behind the game of basketball are often just as captivating as the games themselves.
- Legacy Building: For some of the greatest players and teams in NBA history, documentaries serve as a way to preserve and promote their legacies for future generations of fans.
- Emotional Connections: Many fans have a deep emotional connection to the game of basketball and the players who have made an impact on the sport. NBA documentaries often tap into this emotional connection, making viewers feel like they are a part of the story.
Where can you can view NBA documentaries? Which platforms?
- Streaming Services: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN+, and others.
- Cable and Satellite TV: You can watch NBA documentaries on sports channels like NBA TV, ESPN, and others.
- Online video platforms: YouTube, Vimeo, and other video-sharing platforms may have some documentaries available for viewing.
- DVD and Blu-ray: Some NBA documentaries may be available for purchase on DVD or Blu-ray.