Cinderella stories. Cliffhangers. They are all a part of sport storytelling and in the real world even documentaries live their life like a movie.
Setting the stage for the latest ‘Last Chance U’ series on Netflix OFF the gridiron, the East Los Angeles College Basketball Huskies charged their way to a bigger record than the one the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets are making for most superstars signed right now. Steve Nash’s team have just added LaMarcus Aldridge…at this point we wouldn’t be surprised if they signed Michael Jordan.
Unbeaten. But in the final seconds of the penultimate episode of this streaming series, the former floundering East LA team who had been on a great run were now on the ropes. Staring down defeat. Looking to find their way and hit back like Ali in this city of champions.
And after the referee said, “it’s halftime” like Nas and we returned after our commercial, or in this age binge break, it was all over.
“It’s a wrap”, assistant coach Rob Robinson said on the team bus about to depart. As players heads hidden in hurt by their hoodies dropped further into the light of their phones.
After prevailing in the ‘go hard or go home’ of the one and done playoffs. Coming back after halftime to claim said game with three games left to win state. They came up against the one opponent that’s unbeaten, from Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, to the shutdown and the NBA Bubble.
The team on their way to the big dance just had their sneakers stepped on, just as they were about to pull out of the lot. Now, it’s five months later and the real ‘where are they now’ moments, before the closing credits come into typography play like quarantine beards. Detailing the futures of these young men and the coaches that set them on the right path.
‘Last Chance U: Basketball’ ends as abruptly as that, but until then it serves as this seasons ‘The Last Dance’. Which is somewhat bitterly ironic that after a show about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls that this time last year was gifted to us after we had to stay home because of the virus, the narrative of this one ends up being shut down by COVID-19.
But these players lives are still being written.
However, even at just eight episodes this series is a wonder detailing these college years. From dealing with the loss of 24 and all his inspiration in tribute, to just exactly how this deadly virus we are all going up against affects a team and a school of students.
The locker room smashing struggles of the big heart of the teams’ center Joe Hampton. Passion personified.
The great guard Deshaun Highler with hardwood vision and one searching for higher ground in his life and love, all in honour of his mother.
The dedication of assistant coach Ken Hunter who is there for more players and who has more networks than most. Working coast-to-coast relentlessly, despite this former college player now being wheelchair bound. One scene has him discussing the faith and fidelity of a player with none other than former Laker Shaq and Kobe era champion and Utah Valley University head coach Mark ‘Mad Dog’ Madsen.
And of course the faith of coach John Mosley in our father, the basketball Gods and these kids. Never giving up in all their names. No matter how many times he loses it. But just like the compelling candor of assistant Coach Robinson tells us, you never hear him curse through all that shouting. Even though you could swear you just did.
“Excuses are the tools of incompetence, used to build monuments of nothingness” he quotes to his players.John Mosley – Last Chance U: Basketball
Camaraderie personified. One moment of team bonding at Colby Ranch makes for the best episode of this series. It shows the players doing comedian pitch perfect impressions of their coach. Hilarious. Worthy of an instant replay. Just like how it will exist forever in these young men’s fond memories of their time together, forever.
Sure we’ve already touched down on four seasons of a ‘Last Chance U’ with football and Netflix have plenty on their ‘Hoops’ play. From their ‘High Flying Bird’ cell phone filmed agent film, to shows like ‘Basketball Or Nothing’, Dawn Staley and Doc Rivers episodes of ‘The Playbook’, the latest Tony Parker documentary, ‘The Final Shot’ and of course ‘The Last Dance’.
There’s even another basketball movie that’s come out this week in ‘Boogie’. No it’s not about DeMarcus Cousins’ return to the NBA.
All of that, but nothing is quite like this.
All set to the sound of a high scoring soundtrack from old soul to hip-hop. Kendrick telling us stories of these kids as Motown takes us away, moment to moment. In dynamic direction, from the stunning shots of the City of Angels, to those young men, breaking the fourth wall and talking straight to us, live from their living rooms.
Just like the real life action in slow motion on court, that from ‘Coach Carter’ to ‘The Way Back’ is more epic and exciting than any movie on this glory road.
You should catch up with everything on court before it’s your last chance.