Any big time NBA fan has probably seen one of NBA Entertainment’s year-end championship films. They all have a similar formula; about ten minutes talking about the regular season, 20-25 minutes on the playoff run and around 30 minutes of highlights and Finals coverage. Each one has a few unique qualities to it, but ultimately they feel like different episodes of a TV show. Well, I am really weird and over the last month in preparation for the playoffs, I decided to watch each of these films from the 1980 Los Angeles Lakers one to the 2014 San Antonio Spurs version. I understand admitting that makes it sound like I have no life but hey, this stuff is fun for me. Here are some thoughts on the quality of those championship films.
One of the things I like about the older films is the clever names given to most of them. The 1980 Lakers- “That Magic Season”, 1989 Pistons- “Motor City Madness”, 1991 Bulls- “Learning to Fly” (Tom Petty features heavily here), 1995 Rockets- “Double Clutch”, and 1996 Bulls- “Unstoppabulls”, which is my particular favorite. The narration on the 90’s films is much better and Will Lyman, who happens to narrate the 1999 San Antonio Spurs film (the simply titled “GO Spurs GO”), is my favorite voice by far.
I moved on to the 00’s and a string of Lakers editions. Footage from practices, huddles and locker rooms become more prevalent as we advance through the years, which is a feature I really enjoy. I watch a crazy amount of games and most of the content on these films feel new to me. The use of radio clips with the highlights really works and gives you a different perspective from the usual TV broadcast. There are little mistakes made every once in awhile like having an audio clip that was actually to a different play. Occasionally some shots of the crowd or bench reactions are in the wrong arena according to the game highlights they are showing. Ultimately those aren’t a big deal so I can’t complain too much.
The legendary Ahmad Rashad narrates the most recent editions of these films, which isn’t quite as cool as it sounds, but still works. The fact that the last few are on Blu-Ray helps as well. Possibly my biggest complaint of the entire series is how some of them focus on the Finals too much. I understand that they are technically films of the Finals but a few too many of them spend 30 minutes on the championship series while rushing through the playoff journey when that season the playoff journey was much more dramatic than the Finals. This issue is no bother in 2013 but is annoying in 2002. Overall, I loved the walk down memory lane and these films do provide a good snap shot of the champion of that year’s season. If you are a fan of a team that has won a title between 1980 and 2014, I would recommend checking out your squad’s version, it’s a good time.