It’s easy to forget that in 2008, basketball fans wondered if LeBron James — years away from the first of his four NBA titles — was clutch enough to win the big one. Kobe Bryant was considered a selfish player who’d influenced the departure of star center Shaquille O’Neal from the Lakers. And the USA Basketball team, made up of top pros, languished as an also-ran that hadn’t made the 2006 world finals.
As the stirring doc, The Redeem Team, shows, that changed when Bryant joined fellow stars training for a chance to win in the 2008 Beijing Games. His reason? As player Carmelo Anthony hilariously recalls, “He said, ‘I’m tired of watching y’all lose.’”
Their historic rise as a true team under the magic touch of Duke University’s Coach K, Mike Krzyzewski, thrills because, “They all had things they needed to prove,” says director Jon Weinbach.
And along with Beijing gold for Bryant, James, Dwyane Wade, Anthony, and the rest of the team, the Olympics were “the start of the second chapter in Kobe’s life,” says diehard Lakers fan Weinbach of Bryant, who died tragically in 2020. “For all the reasons we know, I felt a responsibility to tell the story well.”
The Redeem Team, Documentary Premiere, Friday, October 7, Netflix