clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Redeem Team: A Fine Documentary

We’re biased obviously but it was really, really good.

USA’s Kobe Bryant celebrates at the end
USA’s Kobe Bryant celebrates at the end of the men’s basketball gold medal match Spain against The US of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 24, 2008 at the Olympic basketball Arena in Beijing. The US won 118-107. 
Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images

We talked a bit about Netflix’s upcoming Redeem Team documentary here which debuted Saturday. There are spoilers coming so keep that in mind if you haven’t seen it.

It’s honestly better than we expected.

It started with the 2004 Olympic team and all the issues it had before turning to the people and events who led to gold four years later.

Jerry Colangelo talked about his process as head of USA Basketball, including what led him to pick Mike Krzyzewski as the next coach. LeBron James popped up shortly afterwards to talk about how he couldn’t stand Coach K and Duke when he was growing up. This was something that Chris Paul had to come to terms with as well because as the Duke-Wake thing was extremely heated when he was a Demon Deacon.

A lot of the documentary talked about how the late Kobe Bryant was the driving force behind the team, how he simply picked it up by the force of his will and legendary work ethic and raised his teammates to a higher level.

The most stunning scene was when he told his teammates he was going to basically deck Pau Gasol on the first play when the US played Spain. The video is amazing because he really does -and Gasol was a Lakers teammate he really liked and admired. It’s not a slight thing, either: he really did deck him and you can see that Gasol is just shocked: WTF, Kobe?

The amazing thing is the reactions his teammates had. They’re still shocked.

But it set a great tone.

Obviously there is a lot of Coach K in this film and some of it is, uh, uncensored.

But there’s so much more.

There is a scene near the end where Doug Collins says he recently took out a photo of the celebration after winning gold where someone, finally, put a gold medal around his neck since he, and the entire US team, was robbed in Munich in 1972. He says he realized that Kobe was close by him and then stopped speaking. Collins is an emotional man and clearly it pained him to think of what happened to the star and driving force of the Redeem Team.

As far as we saw, and we might well have missed it, that was the only allusion to Bryant’s tragic passing in a 2020 helicopter accident.

It would have been nice to have seen that acknowledged, perhaps in the credits. Then again, as we say, we may well have missed it.

That’s a minor flaw in a very fine documentary. We think you’ll enjoy it and by you we don’t mean just Duke fans. Anyone even mildly interested in basketball or how groups can work towards excellence together will appreciate it.