Review by Adam Donato
Americans are so often divided about serious issues in our society. Sports rivalries are far from being one of the serious issues that turn Americans against each other, but it divides us nonetheless. The Olympics is one of the few scenarios where the entire country comes together to support one team. In the sports world, it’s a centripetal force for patriotism. Everyone knows The Dream Team that dominated basketball for the United States, but it hasn’t always been gold since then. This documentary tells the story of the team that brought American basketball back to the top. The Last Dance and 30 for 30 producer, Jon Weinbach, corrals the main stars of that team to tell the story of how they became The Redeem Team.
One of the greatest draft classes of all time produced LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Carmelo Anthony among others. After a disappointing run at Olympic gold during their sophomore year, they return to bring back glory for Team USA. These are the headlining stars for The Redeem Team. Their interview footage brings plenty of insight into how everything went down with the team, but more so the camaraderie of the core itself. The Banana Boat is a nickname this trio, plus Chris Paul, is known for. Three of the biggest stars in the game, who have had stints playing with each other during their careers, all together on one team. Seeing all the old footage of these guys in their prime is one of the highlights of the documentary. They all do a great job of keeping the story light and injecting their personality into the retelling.
The presentation of this story may have been different if it was made five years ago. Even two years later, the basketball world is still crushed by the loss of Kobe Bryant. His personality, skill, and legacy are synonymous to the culture of basketball today. Before the Olympics, Kobe Bryant was recruited to play for Team USA and his work ethic is strongly attributed to Team USA’s success. The amount of footage of Kobe in the documentary is far and away the best part. His approach to the game of basketball and his leadership is unmatched. A great deal of focus is put upon his inclusion and his impact on the young core of this team. Basketball fans are sure to get emotional seeing one of the greatest of all time recount one of his greatest accolades on his resume.
Basketball fans all across America can come together and enjoy this recounting of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. With plenty of game footage and interviews from the stars, this is definitely not a documentary to just throw on in the background. This story is a reminder to appreciate greatness while we can and to remember what Americans can accomplish when they realize they’re all on the same team.
The Redeem Team streams on Netflix beginning October 7.