Movies & TV

The Best Sports Documentaries to Watch After The Last Dance

ESPN's 10-part phenomenon has come to an end. Here's what to watch next.
IMAGE STEPHEN ALBANESE / GETTY IMAGES
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So, you finished The Last Dance. Nearly 10 hours worth of watching grown-ass men either laughing hysterically at each other, or breaking down into tears when you’d least expect. Not to mention a healthy dose of never-before-seem '90s Chicago Bulls action. It was altogether intoxicating.

The Last Dance was somewhat of a Christmas miracle, ESPN rushing the thing out to give us something to root for. But somewhere along the way, like Jordan retiring for the first time and finding himself somewhere between two sports, you might’ve lost yourself. On the healthier end, you started every day pacing around your home to “Sirius.” (Guilty.) At worse, you started betting large sums of money on the Korean Baseball League and now have to mortgage that home.

Either way, you could use a detox. And we have you covered. For the occasion, we put together an eight-film-long marathon (pace yourself as needed) to get that GOAT mentality out of your system. The journey back starts with an acid trip, and ends on a bus to Birmingham.

1|  No No: A Dockumentary (2014)

You, my friend, need a palate cleanser. Something funny, light, and a little crazy. How about an acid trip? On June 12, 1970, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Doc Ellis pregamed a start with LSD. Then, he threw a no-hitter. No No: A Dockumentary will have you cracking up through every inning.

2|   Dare to Dream: The Story of the U.S. Women's Soccer Team (2005)

Next up in your journey: Some good, old-fashioned inspiration—and not the kind that makes you want to destroy security guards in obscure coin-tossing games. Dare to Dream: The Story of the U.S. Women's Soccer Team is the definitive look at the 1999 World Cup winners. If you don’t get chills when the squad’s bus pulls up to the Meadowlands, then maybe it' s time to check the pulse of the sports fan in you.

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3|   Minding the Gap (2018)

At this point, you might need a break from sports. So, go sports-adjacent, at least. In Minding the Gap, Bing Liu documents his friends throughout their early twenties growing up in Rockford, IL. I won’t spoil it—it’s my favorite film of 2018—but what starts as a beautiful look at how young men bond through sports, ends as a devastating look at the cycle of domestic abuse in depressed, post-industrial cities.

4|   André the Giant (2018)

If you liked the direction The Last Dance—which often focused on the mythmaking of Michael Jordan over his box scores—you’ll probably enjoy André the Giant. It’s the last film Jason Hehir directed before he took on The Last Dance. André the Giant chronicles the life of the 7’4 wrestling legend, who was often living a painful life when he wasn’t in the ring.

5|   When We Were Kings (1996)

You’ve already studied one athlete on the all-time sports-world Mount Rushmore. Time to move to the man next to Jordan: Muhammad Ali. You can find about a thousand documentaries about the boxing legend out there, but go niche with this one. When We Were Kings hones in on the “Rumble in the Jungle” fight between Ali and George Foreman. If you want to know what it feels like to be in a room with Ali—the endless energy, charm, and genius—this is the film to watch.

6|   Unforgivable Blackness (2004)

Trust me: It’ll be hard to think about anything besides boxing after you watch When We Were Kings. Follow it up with Ken Burns’s essential portrait of Jack Johnson, who was the first African-American Heavyweight Champion of the World. Burns might not be a fan of The Last Dance, but any sports-doc list is incomplete without one of his films.

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7|   More Than A Game (2008)

Alright, you know it’s coming in 2042: Whatever The Last Dance equivalent for LeBron James is going to be. (Pretty easy to imagine a gray-bearded Bron dishing the goss on the J.R. Smith flub over a glass of Vino, no?) Get a head start with More Than a Game, which follows the conquests of teenage LeBron’s high school basketball squad.

8|   Jordan Rides the Bus (2010)

Had enough of a vacation away from MJ? Good. Now, it’s time to finish your GOAT PhD. Start with filling in the blanks on one of the most compelling parts of The Last Dance, which the series likely didn’t have enough time to fully dive into. Jordan Rides the Bus is a standout 30 for 30, giving a deeper look at Jordan’s brief shot at baseball greatness in the Chicago White Sox organization.

This story originally appeared on Esquire.comMinor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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