*As sports fans take a deep dive into Michael Jordan’s last championship season with the Bulls via the new ESPN docuseries “The Last Dance,” comes word that Kobe Bryant allowed camera crews to film his last season with the Lakers.
According to Complex, NBA Entertainment was given “unparalleled access,” to Bryant, and allowed to film in locker rooms, the training room, the team’s practice facility, and on the team’s charter plane.
“They had unprecedented and, by far, greater access than anyone else ever,” former Lakers public relations vice president John Black told ESPN. “We certainly allowed them to do everything we could within what the league would allow, and sometimes, with a wink and look-the-other-way, allowed them even more.”
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The footage is reportedly in the editing stages, and the final documentary could debut years from now. But after Bryant’s untimely death in late January, the project may be fast-tracked. The NBA icon had seen edited material and provided feedback in the months leading up to his passing, and he ultimately sought control over the footage.
Meanwhile, Jordan’s ESPN doc has sparked memories for those who witnessed first-hand Bryant’s final season with the Lakers.
“Just watching them and being able to view what the cameras were doing to [capture] Jordan’s pregame routine, I mean, it’s the same thing,” said Marco Nunez, former assistant athletic trainer for the Los Angeles Lakers. “Just flash forward … take out No. 23 with the Bulls and insert No. 24 with the Lakers. Yeah, I mean, it’s pretty much identical.”
“It’s hard for me to not watch that and sort of see those [similar] instances,” added former Lakers strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco.
“The Last Dance” chronicles Jordan as the Bulls were pushing for their sixth title in eight seasons, on the flip side… the Lakers had the worst record in franchise history during Kobe’s last season.
“It was interesting because, obviously, we weren’t winning, so that was frustrating. And the [cameras were always] in your face so, I don’t know, it was hard,” said Robert Sacre, a reserve center for the Lakers that season. “It didn’t feel real as a season.”
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. said: “It was really cool because, like, this is the Black Mamba. But at the same time, like, this is also the worst season in Lakers history. So while I’m really proud to be in the NBA playing with this absolute legend, [that] is not something that I’m really trying to relive.”