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'Bill Russell: Legends' review: enough Netflix doc about NBA icons to leave you wanting more

Last November, HBO premiered Nelson George Say Hey, Willie Mays! , a fascinating documentary that explores the life of the baseball icon — including about Willie The potential controversy over Mayes’ role, or lack thereof, of the civil rights movement, and how that shaped his public image.

George is one of our most prolific and deserved documentary directors, in Bill Russell: Legendary , new Netflix duo from Sam Pollard (Citizen Ashe), one of the few filmmakers who can match George’s steady output.

Bill Russell: Legend

Bottom line Great footage, strong interview, could have been longer.

Air date:
Wednesday, February 8 (Netflix)
Sam Pollard

at Bill Russell :Legend , George doesn’t directly compare Mays to Russell, but fans of sports documentaries will find the connection irresistible. Russell and Mays are foundational performers whose status on the Mount Rushmore of their respective sports cannot be questioned, aside from recency bias.

Did Russell’s troubled relationship with the Boston media and his outspokenness about key sociopolitical issues of the day limit his popularity during his prime? perhaps. Is it possible that Mays was embraced more fully at the peak of his sport, as he doesn’t seem to be a champion and agitator, and those choices could affect how his legacy is perceived 93 How many years after he retired? possible.

I’d love to hear a conversation between George and Pollard on this topic, I’d love to spark those debates with these two solid documentaries, I’m so excited every time I sit down When watching a sports documentary, it has nothing to do with the Los Angeles Lakers or any of the team’s stars.

Note, please don’t worry. If you’re a Lakers fan and think that last year’s Lakers documentary was actually the full amount of content, Bill Russell: Legend’s All-Star library also includes Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Jerry West (again showing the intensity with which various people try to claim to be misrepresented in the script WIN TIME


Bill Russell: The Legend Begins July 1980 and1235189861 Russell’s death then charts a very linear course in his life, from his birth in Louisiana to his move to Oakland as part of the Great Migration. With limited footage and fewer primary interview sources, Russell’s college career at the University of San Francisco is the murkiest part of the documentary, before he was drafted by the Boston Celtics (“Red Auerbach with Ice Capades’ The show traded for the rights to draft Bill Russell” story is one of several slightly bogus ones that Pollard accepts across the board). The latter event set off the most dynastic long-distance run in the history of American sports.

Russell has been great with the Celtics, mostly under the watchful eye of the great Auerbach, and as the centerpiece of a team with a future Hall of Famer, Pollard is not wrong to be attracted to the title juggernaut. However, there was a long time when Bill Russell: Legend started focusing on the annual playoffs, which led him to compare Russell’s personal rivalry with Wilt Chamberlain and the long- And during this period, it was completely one-sided-the team’s contest with the Lakers. Reigns can be monotonous at times and the series turns into a laundry list even though you know which championship is Bob Cousy’s last on the team, which series will culminate in Havlicek steals etc.

What makes this documentary special is that Pollard has collected a lot of classic game footage and classic interviews, as well as interviews with Russell, Cousy, Satch Sanders and many of them new or new. Contemporaries include the aforementioned West, Bill Bradley, Walt Frazier, and others. There’s a fine balance between game footage and interviews, with the former emphasizing Russell’s grace and athleticism and the latter focusing on his intensity and, perhaps most importantly, his intelligence. This is one of the places where I wish Pollard would have done more while Russell was at USF, as the little burst of animation helps show his case that Russell and future Celtics great KC Jones redefine The concept of basketball defense – but it’s so much fun I want more.

Of course, I’d probably prefer Bill Russell to be the best defensive player ever. But I can see why Pollard’s interest leans more toward Russell as the all-time winner on the field and Russell trying to figure out a way off the field to be an advocate for a just cause in a city that wasn’t (and isn’t) always been the kindest to black athletes . Although the documentary covers Russell’s experience of racism in the suburb of Reading, his presentation at the 107 Cleveland Summit A key role in supporting Muhammad Ali and his presence at the March on Washington, Russell may have been a lot more radical than what’s shown here or suggested in the excerpts from his terrifically written memoir narrated by Jeffrey Wright. (Why did Corey Stoll choose to voice this documentary? I have no idea.)

Structurally, Bill Russell: The Legend is Sometimes confusing or just lacking. The decision to shorten the first quarter by 93 minutes in the event of Bob Cousy’s retirement was semi-arbitrary, and then many 107 The second part of the minute was set after Russell retired and was strangely underresourced. Currently It is unclear whether interviews about the last years of Russell’s life were discarded after his death, If Pollard decides he just doesn’t care about things like Russell returning to NBA coaching after four years out of the Celtics, or if he can’t get to the bottom of his settlement with the NBA and the city of Boston, and not just It’s lip service. It also undercuts the power of the documentary, as many recent NBA stars — from Steph Curry to Chris Paul to current Celtics star Jayson Tatum — have said little in interviews. Anything of concrete value.

As we know from The Last Dance or all Lakers documentaries, today’s NBA stars are very young and they know the game Not many. There really isn’t much in it 1980. Perhaps the biggest purpose of Bill Russell: Legend is to bring Russell back into the modern conversation and allow those who have never seen him play in person to at least see some footage of him in his prime . and then maybe one day we can get more documentary depth on Russell (or maybe 10 – Partners focus on Russell/Chamberlain rivalry)? If Magic and Shaq have four hours each, Bill Russell deserves 3.5 hours, maybe more.



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