The new two-hour documentary special, Summer Dreams, from Raquel Productions in association with Mandalay Sports Media, and executive produced by Mike Tollin (Coach Carter, Smallville, 30 For 30) provides a behind-the-scenes look at all that transpires during the NBA’s offseason. The documentary, set to air on CBS at 8 p.m. E T this Saturday, March 15, features top 2013 NBA draftee, Michael Carter-Williams, fellow first round pick, Shane Larkin, second round pick Romero Osby, undrafted Dwyane Davis as well as female refreee hoping to break into the NBA and an unemployed D-League coach hoping to get noticed. You will not forget this incredible look at an NBA both casual and diehard fans almost never see.
“The NBA Summer League is an incredibly colorful event in which team owners, general managers, coaches, lottery picks and longshots all convene in Las Vegas to pursue their hoop dreams,” Executive Producer Mike Tollin said in a statement about the movie. “With unprecedented access, we’ll witness hopes dashed and dreams coming true right in front of our eyes.”
There are more than a few moments during CBS’ new documentary where it got a little dusty in our office as we watched. It’s not because we’re particularly sentimental, it’s that the storytelling and the drama surrounding the subjects of film is so engrossing that you can’t help but root for everyone involved.
Sure, Michael Carter-Williams’ mom might seem a bit pushy with her son, but he’s played beyond expectations in his rookie campaign and is now the frontrunner for the 2014 NBA Rookie of the Year award. His mom, a former professional basketball player in her own right, is Carter-Williams’ secret weapon and prime motivator to improve.
The same can be said for the heart-wrenching injury to Shane Larkin, son of Hall of Fame baseball player Barry Larkin. Shane doesn’t even get to participate in Summer League and Mavs fans have only recently gotten a chance to check out the University of Miami guard’s skills. If he was just the son of an athlete, he would have folded right then and there, but it’s clear from the doc Larkin will do anything he can to get a win on the court and break free of his father’s omnipotent shadow.
Then there’s Romero Osby, the second round pick of the Magic, who got traded to the Celtics and then relegated to to the D-League outfit, the Maine Red Claws. Osby played well in summer league, even getting a shout-out from Kevin Durant on Twitter. But he was only offered a training camp contract with a forward-loaded Magic team, and after getting dealt and playing remarkably well in a brief snippet of games for the Maine Red Claws, his season was cut short after a shoulder injury. We spoke with Osby about his ups and down in the doc, and you can find our conversation on the last page.
Next up is Dwyane Davis, who might share the first name with a more famous Dwyane, but doesn’t have anything else in common with the Heat star. Whereas MCW was on the Barclays Center floor during the draft, and Shane Larkin was in the stands, Osby was watching at home with film crew in tow; Davis, however, wasn’t watching at all.
That’s just the player pastiche of Summer Dreams, but the NBA offseason is much more than that. The amazing crew behind the doc also followed an aspiring NBA referee hopeful, Lauren Holtkamp, attempting to become the second female referee in NBA history.
They also track Joel Abelson, an unemployed coach hoping to get noticed just like the players during summer leaguen runs. In the case of Abelson, he’s now the coach of the D-League’s Reno Bighorns, but like life, not everyone in the documentary gets a happy ending, and some are still on the inexorable slog to achieve their dream.
In all, the lead up to the doc’s premiere might seem like a simple cursory glance at what can happen during the NBA’s down season, but they did such a great job providing a granular, all-encompassing look at all the narratives involved, even in a daft draft, we can’t help but hope the rest of America agrees with us when it finally airs on Friday night.