The ‘definitive’ Nipsey Hussle docuseries is underway, thanks in part to LeBron James’ efforts, but even before the NBA superstar made the deal, these four hour-long specials, each one starring him and his crew, were already in production. Now that it has aired, they’ve become the most sought-after docuseries in all of television, which brings us to the question of how to make this thing even better than it already is.
It’s easy to see that there’s a wealth of storytelling in the special’s history, with moments of insight that are often just as meaningful and valuable today as they were when they were originally broadcast — a lot of them from LeBron and his friends, many of whom went on to become superstars themselves.
To get a handle on the many facets of the program, it’s worth comparing it with other docuseries with the same or similar subjects. (I’m excluding the three-part series chronicling the NBA lockout from 2011-12, as that’s a separate beast.)
And that’s where we start with the LeBron docuseries — with the first one. It ran on ESPN from April 15, 2014, to April 8, 2015. (It’s on iTunes and Hulu, as well as Comedy Central.)
It took a while for the series to find its footing. At the outset, it seemed like an odd pairing for LeBron and his longtime pal, James Dolan, the legendary owner of the New York Knicks and the man who helped launch his career. The two met decades earlier, and Dolan is said to have been the first person to show LeBron a business deal involving a former member of his team, Dennis Rodman.
Then there was the issue of the show’s title — “LeBron Is the Best Thing That Has Happened To Sports” — which was an odd choice for a show about one of the most powerful athletes of the century. LeBron’s story was already well known.