So, you’ve spent the last five weeks inhaling every minute of The Last Dance.
You’ve watched Michael Jordan transform from a skinny kid from North Carolina into the greatest of all-time with an almost psychotic passion for winning.
You’ve watched coach Phil Jackson navigate the massive egos and personalities with his iconic Zen-Master style that helped him win eleven championships in his career (seriously, the dude literally let Dennis Rodman go to Vegas in the middle of the season…who does that?).
And oh yeah, you’ve been gifted the two best memes of 2020 so far.
But now it’s over. And live sports are still on hold, for now. So what’s next?
Here are 8 more sports documentaries you need to check out if you loved The Last Dance.
Hoop Dreams (1994)
Where: Hulu, HBO
The one that started it all…
Legendary film critic Roger Ebert called it “the great American documentary,” and it’s widely considered the best sports doc ever made. Shot over a five-year period, the film follows two African-American teenagers and their families as they navigate the competitive and complex world of high school basketball and college recruiting. But it’s about so much more than basketball. It’s rich and heartbreaking and deeply moving as it uses basketball to explore deeper issues of race, class, and education in America. A must watch.
I know, I know. I was skeptical at first, too. But this six-part series from Netflix is incredibly addictive. It follows the Navarro College Bulldogs Cheer Team as they prepare for the national championship. It’s not all poms-poms and cute cheers, either. There’s real drama here – broken bones and concussions and plenty of blood, sweat, and tears. But in the end, what makes this show work are the kids that make up the Navarro Cheer team, and, in the end, you’ll find yourself rooting for them – both on and off the mat.
Academy Award winner for Best Documentary
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more inspiring and uplifting movie. Undefeated follows the story of the Manassas Tigers, an inner-city high school in Memphis who haven’t won a playoff game in their 110-year history. But head coach Bill Courtney looks to change that as he teaches his players not just about the game of football but about life, too.
Free Solo (2018)
Where: Hulu, Disney +
One of the most heart-pounding experiences you’ll have.
Rock climbing probably isn’t the first thing you think of when you think of sports. But this movie has it all – it’s as emotional and moving and awe-inspiring as anything you’ve ever seen. The story follows climber Alex Honnold as he attempts to do something that’s never been done – free solo El Capitan. No ropes. No harness. No protective equipment. If he falls, he dies. It doesn’t get more high-stakes than this.
Where: Amazon Prime
Smashes every stereotype about being handicapped…
Murderball follows the members of Team USA’s quad rugby team as they look to compete in the 2004 Paralympic Games in Greece. It’s funny, incredibly moving, and highlights some of the many issues and prejudices that the handicapped face on a daily basis. And even though the film deals with some heavy issues, make no mistake about it – this is a sports movie through and through. There’s a heated rivalry at the center of it and the rugby games are tough, fast, and aggressive.
All or nothing (2016)
Where: Amazon Prime
An unprecedented look at one NFL team over a season.
The Amazon original series is now in its fifth season, but it all started in 2016 with the Arizona Cardinals. This show marked the first time football fans were given a behind the scenes look at the day-in, day-out life of an NFL team. You get to witness all the highs and lows of an entire NFL season – from everything on the field and off. So far, the Cardinals, Rams, Cowboys, Panthers, and Eagles have all been featured, and you can stream all five seasons now.
Part sports movie…part political thriller.
Spurred by Lance Armstrong’s admission of using performance-enhancing drugs during his career, director Bryan Fogel decides to document his own experience with performance-enhancing drugs as he prepares for an amateur cycling race. But along the way, he stumbles upon a massive Russian doping program with ties all the way up to the highest levels of the Russian government. This film sent shockwaves through the sports world when it was released, and it’s one of the most thrilling and unbelievable movies you’ll ever see.
OJ: Made in America (2016)
An award-winning look at the rise and fall of OJ Simpson
There’s a ton of great sports docs on ESPN’s hit series 30 for 30. The U, Elway to Marino, and This Magic Moment are just a few to check out. And if you have ESPN+, you have access to every film in the series. But without question, OJ: Made in America sits alone at the top as the best 30 for 30 ever, and one of the greatest sports docs of all-time. This five-part series (or 467 min feature as it was shown in some festivals) chronicles the life of OJ Simpson – from his emerging football stardom at USC to his rise in American culture and the historic 1994 murder trial. And along the way, the filmmakers use the life of OJ Simpson to tell a bigger story of race, celebrity, and the American criminal justice system at large.
There you have it. Eight documentaries to fill the void left by The Last Dance.
Here’s hoping live sports come back soon.
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