2022, Movies

The Redeem Team (2022, Jon Weinbach)

This is a pretty rote documentary about the 2008 USA Olympic basketball team, which won gold in 2008 after the previous team had won only bronze for the first time in decades.

This was one of those movies we watched because we couldn’t make a decision and both of us are basketball fans and figured we’d watch it anyway.

It’s very much a typical sports documentary, with interviews of the participants, some scene setting and then showing highlights from some games (including a FIBA final I had forgotten about).

I found the scene setting kind of brief and would have appreciated more about American international dominance prior to The Dream Team. But, more importantly, I thought there wasn’t enough about the 2004 team. The only people interviewed were the four members of both the 2004 and 2008 teams. And there could have been more stuff about the change in the way USA Basketball was run.

Some of the stuff with the players at the time is insightful, particularly one where pre-Championship LeBron says in front of the entire team and staff that the usual NBA excuses for falling short don’t apply. But it’s clear there was only so much footage and one wonders if there would have been more if the story had happened 4 years later.

But a nitpick: the film is quite hagiographic about Kobe. I understand these players and coaches admired Kobe, some of them probably even liked him. You can feel how different the film is given that he’s dead. Had he not died in that crash, I suspect there would be less glorification. The way the film runs, it’s Kobe that is the reason they were able to win. I invite you to look at this roster and tell me they needed Kobe Bryant to win Gold. He obviously helped but, come on. If they couldn’t win without him, there would be something (still) wrong.

So, obviously, I had issues with the documentary. But I would still hope that Canada’s NBA players watch this before the next World Cup or Olympic Qualifier Canada is in. Canada has more basketball talent than ever and the only people who showed up last time are Wiggins and Joseph.


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