The Last Dance coming to a close has only left sports fans craving for more. I could easily watch three more hours of Michael Jordan chewing out role players or slick basketball montages with I Ain’t No Joke booming in the background. This got me thinking: Which other teams in NBA history would make for a great deep-dive documentary?
Of course, this isn’t as easy as putting together clips and filming interviews with key characters. The allure of The Last Dance, aside from the fact that it stars Michael freaking Jordan, is the never-before-seen footage peppered throughout the series. (ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne did an incredible piece on this previously unseen footage.) Gems like the shrug from MJ’s security guard were only possible because of the all-access cameras that shadowed the team for an entire year.
Let’s say that behind-the-scenes footage magically appeared for each of the teams listed below. If you combine this with the personalities involved, which NBA team and season would be a fascinating subject for a multi-part docuseries?
2007-2008 Boston Celtics
This iteration of the Celtics stands out as one of the most memorable teams in NBA history, which might seem odd considering they “only” won one championship.
But it’s for good reason. Their 2008 title run was unforgettable to say the least; they took on an African Bantu chant as their rallying cry, began the season with a 29-3 record, and romped through a murder’s row of opponents—LeBron’s Cavs, Chauncey’s Pistons, and Kobe’s Lakers—to clinch Boston’s 17th title. (They also nearly lost to a 37-45 Hawks team in the first round, but let’s forget about that!)
A la The Last Dance, a docuseries on these Celtics can focus on a key member before culminating in their triumphant Finals win. And considering the colorful pre-2008 careers of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen, I’d more than gladly watch 10 hours of this.
If you are itching for some 2008 Celtics content, NBC Sports Boston did do a two-hour special on this team featuring interviews with key members. It doesn’t go as deep into each player as The Last Dance, but it’s still a pretty solid watch.
2015-2016 Cleveland Cavaliers
Of all the teams in this list, this Cavs side mirrors The Last Dance Bulls the most. You’ve got LeBron James as the central, alpha-dog figure, Kyrie Irving as the oft-overshadowed but essential second-fiddle, and J.R. Smith as Dennis Rodman, except if Dennis Rodman’s best skills were three-point shooting and soup throwing instead of rebounding. Guys like Kevin Love, Brian Windhorst, and the Road Trippin’ crew would also make for incredible interviews.
This team was rife with drama—who can forget the David Blatt fiasco?—and had such a compelling playoff run. The 73-9 Golden State Warriors make for a great foil to set the story arc, eventually leading to the monster ending. Give me a docuseries on the final four minutes of Game 7 alone and I’ll be happy.
A film on this team seems more of a when than if. There’s so much rich material that it would be waste if one wasn’t produced. Until then, we can only imagine LeBron’s belly laugh reaction to all the doubters calling the series over down 3-1.
2009-2010 Phoenix Suns
Outcome: Lost WCF (2-4 to LA Lakers)
Teams that didn’t win a championship can also be interesting! For the Seven Seconds or Less Suns, their 2009-2010 run was their own Last Dance season since Amar’e Stoudemire was a surefire bet to bolt after the season. And boy did they make the most out of it. They sported the eighth-best offense in NBA history, running up and down the court with a vigor unique only to a Steve Nash-led attack.
Their playoff run was pretty fun, too. After knocking out the feisty Blazers in six games, they swept the Spurs in the West semis—which, for a sweep, was extremely memorable.
That Spurs series itself was filled with moments like Goran Dragic’s 23-point fourth-quarter (Seriously: Do yourself a favor and watch the highlights) and Nash’s one-eyed series clincher. But in the bigger picture, it served as a respite for the Suns after years of being tormented by San Antonio in the playoffs, setting up a perfect narrative for the playoff portion of the docuseries.
And after falling to a 0-2 hole to the Lakers in the West Finals, the Suns stormed back to tie the series (in Los Angeles, no less). They were maybe a box-out away from making it 3-2, and with momentum on their side, perhaps an NBA title.
Character-wise, they also had Jason Richardson—a pretty awesome player back in his day—and late-career (but still productive) Grant Hill. A potential Hill episode alone tackling his superstar days in Detroit would make a 2010 Suns docuseries worth it.
2011-2012 Charlotte Bobcats
Outcome: 15th Place, Eastern Conference
Hear me out: Imagine a Last Dance sequel, except it’s on Jordan’s days as the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. Seeing his raw, unfiltered thoughts on the least winningest team in NBA history would make for an incredible viewing experience.
As for the personalities in this team, well, there isn’t much. Maybe Kemba Walker’s transition from a title-winning UConn squad to this garbage fire of a team would be an interesting story arc? A Corey Magettee career introspective perhaps? I mean, if you’re watching a docuseries on the Charlotte Bobcats, you probably would be okay with content on Tyrus Thomas’ untapped potential.
A Bobcats documentary can take on the style of Sunderland ‘Till I Die—a highly-successful Netflix docuseries about English Football Club Sunderland and their fall from grace. ‘Till I Die showed that even a terrible sports team can be a compelling subject for a docuseries. And even if the Bobcats weren’t revered the same way as Sunderland, Charlotte was once a basketball-crazy city with an exciting NBA team. Any excuse to rev up old Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning highlights is very much welcome.