The Last Dance has been a godsend for sports fans crushed by the absence of live sports during the coronavirus crisis. The epic docuseries about NBA superstar Michael Jordan and his final championship season with the Chicago Bulls has also been one of the TV highlights of the year, transcending its core subject while also taking on hot topics such as the culture of celebrity, race and economics.
But the curtain fell on The Last Dance on Monday with the broadcast of the final two instalments. If the excitement of the ESPN/Netflix project has whetted your appetite for more sports documentaries, here are some candidates that should be at the top of your list.
O.J: Made in America
It wouldn’t be too off-base to call this 10-part film The Godfather of sports documentaries. Like The Last Dance, this Oscar-winning 2016 series from director Ezra Edelman goes far beyond its sports foundation to sharply probe issues of even greater resonance. The centrepiece of the film, of course, is the trial of former football great O.J. Simpson, accused of murdering his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. Chronicling Simpson’s rise and fall with a propulsive narrative, the film utilises Simpson as a pivot to probe the racial tensions, obsession with celebrity and other societal issues that shadowed America during that period. If you haven’t seen it, you need to remedy that. If you have seen it, you will likely find aspects you missed their first time around.