With ESPN’s ‘The Last Dance’ coming to its conclusion last Sunday, I got to thinking about what figures in other sports would be worthy of similar documentaries.
Narrowing the field to just one person or unit/team is certainly a challenge, but here are some of the players (or coaches) I think would make worthy choices.
It hurts me to write this just as much as it does for you to read it, believe me.
However, there’s no denying the greatness these two reached during their time together at New England — a span of 20 years that includes six Super Bowl wins, nine AFC championships and plenty of awards.
On Brady’s end, the documentary would theoretically discuss his path to the NFL, why he was selected so late and how high he reached as a sixth-round pick. It would also tap into his departure from the Patriots and shed some more light on that situation.
With regards to Belichick, the documentary would almost look a lot like HBO’s ‘Belichick & Saban: The Art of Coaching’ — a great watch if you haven’t seen it yet. Another documentary on Belichick would examine his upbringing in Annapolis, where his father served as a coach at the U.S. Naval Academy, and how that shaped him, as well as how he arrived to New England.
From there, the documentary could roll through the two decades the duo spent as a coach and quarterback together, and possibly give a glimpse at their relationship.
It would also include interviews from players from that era, such as Tedy Bruschi, that could give an insider’s point of view on the franchise.
Baseball: David Ortiz
I debated on this one a lot, because certainly the Jeter/Rivera/Petitte Yankees teams could’ve had their own documentary (and likely will at some point).
That said, Ortiz jumped out for a few reasons, the largest of which being his role in ending the Red Sox’ 86-year World Series drought in 2004 and then helping them win again in 2007 and 2013.
Ortiz, who spent 14 of his 20 MLB seasons with the Red Sox (and other six with the Twins), finished his career with those three World Series titles and a World Series MVP award in 2013, 10 All-Star team selections, seven Silver Slugger awards and has since had his No. 34 retired by the Red Sox.
Simply put, he’s a first-ballot hall of famer, and is likely a candidate for a unanimous selection. In addition, his name became synonymous with Red Sox baseball for years, and he is certainly among the greatest to put on a Boston uniform.
A documentary about Ortiz has plenty to cover, from his postseason heroics time and again to his boisterous locker room persona and his upbringing in the Dominican Republic.
A series would also look at his time with Minnesota, his speech to fans in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing and his recent recovery from a shooting.
Interviews would be plentiful, with the likes of Pedro Martinez and Terry Francona making appearances as well as Boston city officials, who would talk about Ortiz’s impact around the city. Notable fans would have slots, too, and perhaps even rival players from the Yankees could discuss having to face him for so long.
Hockey: Mario Lemieux
Of course, Wayne Gretzky is the obvious answer here, but “The Great One” already has a 30-for-30 documentary.
Lemieux, meanwhile, has plenty worth discussing from his career, both as a player and now owner for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
From the Pens’ back-to-back cups in 1991 and 1992 to his battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Lemieux’s playing career already stands as one of the most interesting — and most successful — in Pens history, as he holds the franchise records in goals, assists and total points.
Couple that with his current role as team owner, an era which began in 1999 and included some time in a player/owner status after he came out of retirement, and he has one of the most illustrious and versatile careers in hockey history. After all, the Penguins have won three Stanley Cups since he took over at the top.
Interviews for this one would include his teammates and coaches from his playing days, some team executives from his time as a player/owner hybrid, and perhaps even medical staff during his cancer treatments.
A docuseries on Lemieux would also have to include an inside look at Sidney Crosby’s rookie year, during which he lived with Lemieux and was mentored directly by the owner, and on their relationship in building what is now one of the most consistent hockey teams in the NHL.
Other notables worth a documentary or series: Nick Saban (college football), Tiger Woods (golf), Bob Knight (college basketball, though a 30-for-30 about his exit from Indiana is already in existence), Mike Krzyzewski (college basketball), Dabo Swinney (college football), Don Shula (NFL), LeBron James (NBA).
(Joel Whetzel, a Bradford Era sportswriter, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)