Stream it or skip it: ‘The Redeem Team’ on Netflix, a documentary look at how American basketball got its groove back

The United States men’s basketball team had been a giant for generations, but in 2008 they were looking for redemption and a return to gold medal glory. That’s the focus of the new Netflix documentary the redemption teamwhich follows the team led by LeBron and Kobe on their quest to be more than just a collection of stars and act as a team.

The essence: The 1992 United States Men’s Olympic Basketball Team, also known as “The Dream Team,” might be the greatest team assembled in any sport. The collection of legends like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and more achieved a gold medal, one in a long string of successes for US basketball in the 20th century. But in the 21st century, the script had become obsolete. Stars began opting out of adding the extra summer tournament to their schedules, and in 2004 the unthinkable happened: the US lost games and finished with just one bronze medal.

Redemption was needed, and it came in 2008, thanks to the strength of a new team led by Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski and stars LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony. They would not only win back the gold, but set in motion events that would shape the next decade of the NBA.

Which movies will it remind you of? It’s an obvious point of comparison for any documentary featuring the NBA’s top stars, but there are real nuances of The last Dance in the redemption team.

Performance worth seeing: There are contemporary interviews with many of the stars involved in winning back the gold, but the most poignant, in light of his untimely death in a helicopter crash in 2021, might be those with Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.

the redemption team
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix/IOC/John Huet

Memorable Dialogue: “I felt like I was the best basketball player in the world,” recalls superstar LeBron James, “but I hadn’t proven myself enough yet.” “There was a hankering for that 2008 team,” adds point guard Chris Paul, repeating himself for emphasis. “Hunger”.

“There were a lot of things we needed to show the world,” says Dwyane Wade, James’ future teammate on the Miami Heat, “and it wasn’t just basketball.”

Sex and skin: None.

Our take: Looking back at the list, it might seem like a foregone conclusion that the 2008 US men’s Olympic basketball team was going to win gold, given the resumes of those involved. Five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant. Four-time champion LeBron James. Sure future Hall of Famers Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Jason Kidd and Chris Paul. Stars like Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard and Deron Williams. There’s no way a collection of talent like this can lose, right?

Well, that’s the kind of thinking that got us to where we picked up at the beginning of the redemption team.

The 2004 US Men’s Olympic team, led by veteran NBA coach Larry Brown and led by stars Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan and Stephon Marbury, seemed destined to continue the US’s streak of dominance in the game. international. Since 1936, the US had failed to win gold just once: in a questionable loss to the Soviet Union in 1972. Once the pros were allowed to play in 1992, the influx of NBA talent turned the team into a true giant.

The 2004 team then lost to Puerto Rico in their first match in the group stage, losing another to Lithuania, before a loss to Argentina in the semifinals even cost them a shot at gold. A bronze medal may be a glorious achievement for some, but for American basketball it’s a painful defeat.

Enter the 2008 team, a team of stars, but stars that still had a lot to prove. LeBron James might have been the best player in the world at the time, but he was still years away from winning his first NBA championship ring. Kobe Bryant had three rings to his name by then, but all three had come along with former teammate and rival Shaquille O’Neal, and he was dogged by a perception of selfish play and the suggestion that he couldn’t win the big game. . on his account. Later, these stars arrived at Beijing 2008 with much to prove, both as a nation and individually. However, playing as individuals would not be enough: they would have to learn to play as a real team, and legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski was hired to spearhead this process.

the redemption team is full of interviews both current and contemporary to the games, and the perspectives of these stars are fascinating to listen to, interwoven with gameplay footage and news coverage of the time. We can see the team coming together in real time, learning how to win not just as stars, but as a team. This process would have leggy legs, no doubt influence future championship runs for Bryant, James, Wade and others, and sow the seeds of James, Wade and Bosh teaming up on the 2010-14 Miami Heat superteam. The “Redemption Team” wasn’t just about an Olympics, it was about a new era in the game of basketball.

Our call: TRANSMIT IT. There is a lot of entertainment in the redemption team For even the most casual NBA fan, it’s exciting to relive the USA’s return to gold medal glory.

Scott Hines is a Louisville, Kentucky-based architect, blogger, and savvy internet user who publishes the popular Action Cookbook Newsletter.

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