Dropping right in the moment in quarantine when the basketball world most needed a pick-me-up, The Last Dance captivated fans everywhere. It shattered ESPN records— averaging 5.6 million views per episode.
The only problem? It didn’t reveal that much new information.
When it comes to basketball’s best player ever, every detail has already been extensively documented. Seeing it together was nice (especially for the uninitiated, younger fans), but it didn’t break any new information you’d never heard before.
That’s not to say it isn’t good—it was amazing. But if you like the style of players and analyst interviews, interspersed with archival footage of amazing plays, then are a couple of other documentaries that you might learn more new details from.
In putting together a list of underrated documentaries, we wanted to keep true to the aspects fans liked about The Last Dance. That means every entry on our list had to contain the following:
- Recency. There are tons of amazing basketball documentaries, but sometimes there’s nothing like high quality, crisply filmed interviews with new cameras. Nothing older than 10 years was selected.
- Player Focused. No documentaries on social movements or countries. We want a story of an amazing basketball player and their story.
- Streaming In High Quality. We don’t want to tell people about movies they need to buy on DVD or stream in low-res on YouTube. We want movies that are in HD, legal resolution.
With that, grab your popcorn and get ready for the pure dopamine hit that is basketball docs.
5. Iverson (2014)
Where To Stream: SHOWTIME and Amazon Prime
When it comes to impact on basketball culture, Allen Iverson is second to none. ‘Iverson’, the documentary looks at his upbringing and how he became a target for cultural conservatism in basketball. The footage features tons of archival interviews from players like Kevin Garnett, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade. However, it’s just slightly teasing that we don’t get original raw interviews from many of these players. Still definitely worth the watch.
4. Luka Doncic (2018): The Future Is Now
Where To Stream: Youtube
Produced professionally by the EuroLeague Basketball, The Future Is Now takes place during Luka’s MVP season and features early footage of Luka in Slovenia, and lots of interviews from his friends and family, and the wunderkind himself.
While Luka’s career in the US is still very much developing, he has already had an arguable Hall of Fame Career in Europe, where he became the youngest player to play for Real Madrid. He is also the youngest player to receive the EuroLeague MVP, and the third ever back-to-back winner of the EuroLeague ‘Rising Star’ award. The documentary, only 26 minutes, is great for those wanting to learn more about the NBA’s quickest growing superstar.
3. Linsanity (2013)
Where To Stream: Amazon Prime
While many people know Jeremey Lin’s crazy ‘Linsanity’ run on the Knicks (and a couple of good moments on the Lakers), fewer know the struggles he battled being unrecruited out of high school, undrafted in the NBA, and later waived by the Warriors–before finally making his impact as a starter on the Knicks. While the highlights of this documentary are not going to be as dazzling as that of a Hall of Famer, Lin’s perseverance in the face of discrimination and constant setback is genuinely inspiring.
2. The Carter Effect (2017)
Where To Stream: Netflix
If you were born before 2000, Vince Carter dunks were part of what made you an NBA fan. Arguably still the flashiest in-game dunker in history, Vince helped bring life to a Raptors franchise in the first years of its existence, back when the logo was still being compared to Barney the dinosaur.
The Carter Effect is as much an ode to Vince as it is to Toronto and the wave of Canadian NBA players he inspired. The hit list of interviews includes Drake, Tracy McGrady, Director X, Steve Nash, Jalen Rose, David Stern, Tristan Thompson, and is quite beautifully shot.
1. A Kid From Coney Island (2019)
Where To Stream: Netflix
Stephon Marbury is one of the most enigmatic players in league history. An extremely talented ball-handler and scorer, Starbury made a splash as the 4th overall pick in the stacked 1996 draft but never quite lived up to his potential. He bounced around teams with a trail of drama, but upon leaving, had arguably the most successful international career of any former player.
The documentary, which follows Marbury’s life growing up in the projects of New York’s Coney Island, is executive produced by Kevin Durant and sports agent Rich Kleiman, and features interviews from Fat Joe, Stephen A. Smith, Cam’ron, Chauncey Billups. It’s a personal portrait of Marbury, who struggled but ultimately succeeded in finding his basketball path.
Honorable Mention: The Kevin Garnett Documentary
If there was any doubt that Kevin Garnett is one of the NBA’s all-time personalities, it was completely demolished when he blew the world away with his performance in Uncut Gems.
Capturing his penchant for storytelling, SHOWTIME takes a look at how Kevin Garnett’s decision to skip college and go straight to the NBA became the blueprint for a cascade of Hall-of-Famers, including Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, and Lebron James.
The only reason this is an honorable mention is that the documentary has yet to receive a release date (or even a title). However, SHOWTIME has released a trailer, and even if the entire movie is just KG in a chair talking, it’s likely to be one of the most captivating basketball docs of all time.